Initially scheduled for Sunday 26 September at 14:00 hours local time, the start of the 23rd edition of the Mini Transat Eurochef has now been pushed back 24 hours. Indeed, the weather situation, with the notable passage of a front announced on Sunday night through into Monday offshore of the Coast of Light, has forced the organisers and Race Management to modify the programme to guarantee the safety of the 90 competitors as much as possible. In this way, the latter will instead set sail on Monday 27 September at 14:00 hours on the first leg of the event (1,350 miles between Les Sables d’Olonne and Santa Cruz de La Palma). Explanations from Denis Hugues, Race Director.
Why have you chosen to delay the start?
“Our goal is still to get as many competitors as possible across to the other side and, with this in mind, the weather situation prompts us to be cautious. A highly active front is forecast to roll in offshore of the Vendée coast on Sunday night through into Monday. The latter will generate average wind speeds of 30-35 knots, gusting in excess of 40 knots, together with difficult, cross seas with fairly short intervals between the waves. Immersing the racers in such conditions on their first night clearly didn’t seem like a reasonable proposal. A great deal of consideration has gone into this postponement as delaying a start naturally has massive ramifications. It’s been discussed with Christian Dumard, the meteorologist for the race. Other specialists have also been consulted to corroborate our decision. That decision to bring in other viewpoints was also called for because beyond the system in question, the situation was perfectly clear with the grib files all entirely in agreement.”
Given this change, what conditions will the solo sailors ultimately set sail in?
“By leaving on Monday at 14:00 hours, the sailors will set off with a NW’ly breeze of 15 to 17 knots. The situation will be pretty much perfect in as much as the front will have rolled through and a zone of high pressure is set to position itself in the Bay of Biscay, where it will stay for four days. That will give the whole fleet time to exit Biscay in favourable conditions before hooking onto the Portuguese trade wind. The latter is forecast to be fairly boisterous, but the skippers will already have their sea legs by then.”
What exactly are the modifications for the start phase?
“The start will be given in the area initially planned for, however the windward course in the Baie des Sables d’Olonne will not take place. As such, the racers will have just one windward mark to round before they head out to sea and make for the Canaries, where the front runners could well make landfall fairly quickly.”
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