The sailors in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère one week away from the big plunge

15 09

23:15

Only one week to go now! Nearly 90 skippers from a variety of backgrounds will take the start of the 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère in La Rochelle next Sunday at 14:15 hours local time. Two sailors signed up in the production boat category won’t now take the start. Antoine Oulhen is injured and Cyril Oms is a no-show in La Rochelle.

Next Sunday, the sailors competing in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère will be at sea. One week, it’s nothing and everything at the same time. On the scale of a preparation spanning several years and requiring total commitment, a wait of just seven days might seem very little. But as the impatience grows and the tension and excitement rises, these final days can seem interminable… As they await the start though, the skippers have plenty to do and are busying themselves on the pontoons in a bid to set sail from La Rochelle with boats fit and ready to go with all the necessary gear aboard.

Two sailors will not be among them

Two sailors signed up in the production boat category will unfortunately not now be taking part in this 22nd edition. Antoine Oulhen, 27, was set to make his debut performance in the Mini-Transat. However, last Sunday, whilst he was delivering his Vector 6.50 (No.960) between Lorient and La Rochelle, he suffered an injury during a gybe under spinnaker. Verdict: dislocation of the left shoulder. “Throughout the past week, I’ve been consulting several sports doctors and the trauma unit. I’ve had several meetings with the people in charge of the Mini-Transat (race doctor, race director, organising committee) to determine whether the start was still feasible under these circumstances”, explains Antoine. “The verdict was unanimously negative. Today, it’s a certainty that I won’t be able to take the start of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019 next Sunday. I feel massively disappointed. But it’s not over for me. The Mini-Transat 2021 will take place in two years’ time and I’ll be there.”

As for Cyril Oms, who sails boat number 591, unfortunately has not turned up in the Bassin des Chalutiers in La Rochelle. “All the competitors were supposed to be here by Wednesday 11 September at the latest. Cyril Oms has not reported a force majeure to us so we must consider him to be a non-starter”, explains Denis Hugues, race director of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère.

The line-up for the 22nd edition, presented in La Rochelle this Sunday
The skippers, from 13 countries, were presented to the public this Sunday, on the main stage of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère village. Of particular note was the big generation gap since the competitors range from 18 (Violette Dorange) to 64 years of age (Georges Kick)! The ambitions and the socio-professional categories are also very varied. And though it is no longer a record turn-out (89 skippers competed in the race in 2007), the Mini-Transat is clearly on the up since there are more competitors now than in 2017, an edition which already boasted a very fine cast (81 sailors).

David Kremer celebrates the 20th birthday of Bon Pied Bon Œil, the oldest boat in the fleet

This Sunday, on the pontoons of La Rochelle, David Kremer, chief operator in the cinema domain, celebrated the 20th birthday of his what is an awesome prototype (No.260), launched some 20 years ago. “Benoît Parnaudeau and Richard Mérigeaux built the boat. One of them injured an eye and the other a foot during the build, so they decided to call her ‘Bon Pied Bon Œil’ (Good Foot Good Eye), explains David. This iconic prototype, which is well known in La Rochelle, has already participated in the Mini-Transat four times, with Benoît Parnaudeau (in 2001), Richard Mérigeaux (2003), Cyril Ducrot (2005) and Olivier Cusin (2007). “In the offshore racing world, boats are fairly quickly deemed outmoded. Not this one though. She’s the oldest in the fleet, but she doesn’t hang around, even though I’m no great shakes as a racer. Today, in a world where everything is disposable, it’s good to have something that still has a story to tell”, beams David Kremer.