With boats returning to port immediately following the start, and routes continuously changing due to severe weather, the MiniTransat continues to be full of both surprises and challenges. The regatta organizers recently announced that the race will consist of only one leg—from Sada to Pointe-a-Pitre, with the gun going off on Nov. 12, giving sailors time to re-acquire the equipment and supplies shipped to Lanzarote, a stopover in the original route.
The fleet will race through a gate near Lanzarote, and sailors can make an express stop at Puerto Calero to make any necessary repairs prior to taking on the Atlantic. Though perhaps shorter in time, crossing the Atlantic will be no small feat, as this leg is approximately 3,600 miles. Sailors will not cross the Doldrums, and are expected to arrive at Pointe-a-Pitre around Dec. 1.
While many sailors are arriving in Sada, several are still struggling. Australian skipper Katrina Ham is under observation in the hospital after capsizing while being towed in for assistance with her gooseneck, and Henrik Masekowitz was forced to trigger his beacon after his boat, Merlin-Soft, lost its keel. U.S. sailor Jeffrey MacFarlane re-lived a nightmare when he was dismasted on Oct. 31. He contacted a freighter, and according to reports, was aboard Public Service Patrol vessel Cormoran and en route to La Caruna.
Meanwhile, the Transat Jacques Vabre is perhaps off to no better start due to the weather, but officially kicked off at 1300 hours (local time) on Thursday. The Class 40 has a weather stop, the MOD 70’s are likely to avoid the storms, and the Open 60 and Multi 50’s fleets are predicted to take on the brunt of the weather. All boats will push hard to beat out of the channel in hopes of balancing heavier wind in the north with favorable wind direction from the south.
Vendee Globe winners Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyseaux, who sailed further inshore aboard Macif, took the lead at the first mark, but now trail behind Jeremie Beyou and Christopher Pratt aboard Maitre CoQ.