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Solo Transatlantic | Mini 650

Mini Transat 2023 : Carlos Manera Pascual first to cross the leg 1 finish line by just 9 minutes

vendredi 6 octobre 2023Redaction SSS [Source RP]

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Expected in the middle of Thursday night, the conclusion of the first leg of the 24th edition of La Boulangère Mini Transat (1,350 miles from Les Sables d’Olonne to Santa Cruz de La Palma) for the Proto category ultimately took place after 9 hours, on Thursday morning. The doldrums, with no wind, made their appearance on the final fifteen miles of the course, significantly reshuffling the deck. Consequently, while victory seemed assured for Victor Mathieu (967 – Celeris Informatique), who had been leading since Monday afternoon and had extended his lead to more than forty miles over his closest pursuer, Carlos Manera Pascual (1081 – Xucla) was the first to cross the finish line, taking the win by just nine minutes and some change. Behind them, a similar scenario unfolded. Maël Cochet (621 – Marc SA), who had hoped to climb onto the podium after a clever westward choice, got trapped in the doldrums, while Julien Letissier (1069 – Frérots Branchet) managed to find a narrow corridor and make a comeback from seemingly impossible odds, securing the third spot.

While on Thursday night, everything looked green for Victor Mathieu (967 – Celeris Informatique), and he was expected to be the grand winner at the finish line of the first leg of the 24th edition of La Boulangère Mini Transat in the Proto category, the story took an unexpected turn. In the middle of the night, a windless bubble unexpectedly appeared near the island of La Palma. As a result, the cards were completely reshuffled. Victor Mathieu’s substantial lead quickly evaporated, benefiting his competitors, especially the Spanish Carlos Manera Pascual (1081 – Xucla). More than 40 miles behind the leader 24 hours before the finish, Carlos made a strong comeback, positioning himself to the east of his opponent on the final stretch, taking advantage of a better angle of attack and more wind pressure. "I hoped the wind would weaken as we approached the island, and the fleet would regroup. After my first participation in the race two years ago, I knew landing on La Palma could be potentially tricky. I knew things could happen, so it was important to conserve some energy and clarity," commented the winner. He was still surprised to see his competitors so close to him, just about fifteen miles from the finish line.


"When I saw masthead lights and some of my competitors on AIS, I was a little surprised, I admit, but I realized I had a real chance, and I fought to make the boat move when there was hardly any breeze," said the sailor, once again demonstrating that in offshore racing, as long as the finish line isn’t crossed, anything can happen. The same goes for Julien Letissier (1069 – Frérots Branchet). "I assumed it was a bit of a lottery from the start of this leg and that it would probably remain that way until the end. In other words, everything was still to be done, and we had to believe in it," commented the skipper upon arrival, with the unmistakable feeling of having committed a heist. "When I saw the group ahead hugging the coast this morning, I knew I had nothing to lose, so I tried something by staying in a small wind corridor between the two highest points of the island. It worked ; I kept the wind. I still came back from afar. On Tuesday, I had a 75-mile gap behind Victor. I calculated that at 10 knots, it would take 7 hours. Such a gap was starting to be a problem for starting the second leg in good conditions," emphasized Julien Letissier, who not only reduced his gap to the leader to 1 hour and 16 minutes but also managed to snatch third place from Laure Galley (1048 – DMG MORI Sailing Academy 2).


"It’s clearly a big surprise !" conceded the skipper. This is undoubtedly a sentiment that Maël Cochet (621 – Marc SA) would not disagree with. He was racing toward second place after taking a clever route closer to the direct route after rounding Cape Finisterre but got caught in the windless doldrums in the final miles. Victor Mathieu, who showed excellent control from start to finish in the race, could have hoped to make a significant impact on the provisional overall standings before the second leg. "In the trade winds, I pushed because I didn’t want to give others a chance to catch up. However, I hadn’t anticipated there would be no wind at the end. I had prepared a lot of things, especially for the passage of Portugal, but nothing about the Canaries. It was upon arrival that I realized I had been foolish. I oscillated between getting annoyed and getting back in the game. I thought a lot about the second leg of this year’s Solitaire du Figaro Solitaire du Figaro #LaSolitaire . Two miles from the finish, I saw a gust coming. Carlos left with it. I understood it was over, but I’m happy. Winning would have been a bonus, but my goal was to be in the mix, and that was the case. The contract is fulfilled, nonetheless," commented the skipper of Celeris Informatique. He knows that nine minutes behind the leader in the context of a transatlantic race is quite insignificant. Infinitesimal even. This is especially true as the top nine are separated by less than 4 hours and 15 minutes. So, while some may have scored points, it’s primarily a psychological victory because everything is still up for grabs !

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