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Prototype: Le Roy – Muzzolini – Bouroullec, the top trio

The battle for first place in the prototype category in the 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef was eagerly awaited, especially so in the face-off between Pierre Le Roy (1019 – TeamWork) and Tanguy Bouroullec (969 – Tollec MP/Pogo), both of them winners in virtually all of the races over the past two seasons. Though each of the men managed to hold rank, Fabio Muzzolini (945 – Tartine sans Beurre) certainly made life difficult for them, both in the first leg, which was punctuated by the great escape performed by the first four in the fleet offshore of the north-west tip of Galicia, and in the second, which was coloured by a series of very stark strategic choices. So, in which order did the top trio finish in the end (prior to the jury’s decision)? Le Roy – Muzzolini – Bouroullec.

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After the first leg, which saw Pierre Le Roy, Fabio Muzzolini, Tanguy Bouroullec and Irina Gracheva slip along in a vein of breeze and make good their escape in the trade wind, enabling them to schuss all the way down to the Canaries whilst all their rivals remained pinned to the racetrack, the whole physiognomy of the Mini Transat EuroChef underwent a paradigm shift. Indeed, the small band of four, who made landfall in Santa Cruz de La Palma with a lead of over three days ahead of the rest of the fleet, had made a clean break from the competition. From that point on, final victory was theirs for the taking. “At the finish, we were all roughly even”, commented the skipper of TeamWork, well aware that the 1h10 separating the top three and 10 hours from the fourth were but a drop in the ocean prior to them taking the ‘real’ plunge and making it to the other side of the Atlantic.

A four-way battle royal

Therefore, it was evident in everyone’s minds that the first to cross the finish line would most definitely be the outright winner of the event. “It’ll be important to sail your own course, believe in your choices, follow through on them and ensure you leave no regrets out on the racetrack”, commented Tanguy Bouroullec shortly before leaving the Canaries. However, as he made this statement, the skipper from the Finistere could not have imagined that this second act would call for such stark route choices and generate a lateral separation of up to 600 miles. “I’m happy because it didn’t come down to a question of speed. The weather was the clincher. I had my plan fixed firmly in my mind. I based my race around that. On leaving La Palma, I said to myself that either I would win the race with flair, or I’d take the ‘safe’ option by lining myself up astern of the other three, which would have served no purpose whatsoever. I trusted in myself”, explained Pierre Le Roy, having dived headlong into the south, as far as 12° north, gambling on the surplus pressure to make up for the extra distance to sail. “I was convinced by my option and certain that my rivals were further north. I really went on the attack. It’s fair to say it wasn’t that easy, physically or psychologically. Right to the wire, I was in fear of Fabio’s red spinnaker appearing out of the blue at the last moment, as was the case in the first leg. I didn’t want to see a remake of that. I put in an absolutely crazy amount of effort, right to the last”, explained the meteorologist-skipper.

A victory with real flair

The first to make the finish line on 12 November at 13:02 UTC, respectively 14h11 then 25h34 ahead of Fabio Muzzolini and Tanguy Bouroullec, the sailor from Lille not only took the leg win but also victory in the overall ranking, with both style and determination. “This is how I wanted things to play out. By making a solid decision about the weather aspect and never letting up. It hurt, but that’s how I wanted to win”, explained Pierre, the emotion breaking the surface has he dedicated his success to his father who passed away last year. Posting a commanding win, it was evident that his rivals had also given their absolute all. “I’d have really liked to have pinched first place from Pierre but he was better. I’d really like to congratulate him because to win a Mini Transat you first need to run a successful campaign and he’s done than superbly well”, commented the skipper of Tartine sans Beurre, who can also take away an immense amount of satisfaction from the way he sailed his race. “One year proved to be pretty difficult as I was focusing on watching the others sailing and spent my time repairing my boat. All the hard work paid off in the end”, indicated the Franco-Italian, who hadn’t even dared to imagine finishing on the second step of the podium on leaving Les Sables d’Olonne on 27 September.

Some contented… others disappointed

In contrast, Tanguy Bouroullec had laid his cards on the table in terms of his hopes of victory in this 23rd Mini Transat EuroChef. The reason for this was that having already posted two fourth places in the last two editions in 2017 and then 2019, the sailor from the Finistere logically had his hopes pinned on the top of the leader board this year. Moreover, he’d immediately asserted his ambitions by taking the win in the first leg to La Palma. “In this second leg, the south was the right option. I should have just gone for it, which is what Pierre did. I quickly grasped the fact that we weren’t in the same place and we didn’t have the same breeze. The result obviously isn’t what I was hoping for”, lamented the skipper of Tollec MP/Pogo, who was further handicapped by bowsprit issues in the last third of the 2,700-mile of the course bound for Saint-François. “Really, I came back to the event to win it. Once I got my head around the fact that it wasn’t going to happen, it was a tough punch to roll with. I’ll take a little while to digest all this, but that’s the name of the game in this sport!”

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