La Charente-Maritime Bahia Transat 6.50 Leg 2 underway

Fabienne Robin - La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 2011
© Pierrick Garenne / GPO
La Charente-Maritime Bahia Transat 6.50 Leg 2 is now underway. The seventy-seven strong fleet set sail at 1:30 p.m and headed for a windward mark buoy in front of the Club naval de Funchal before heading to the next compulsory passage mark located between the islands of Santo Antao and Maio in the Cape Verde archipelago. The wind in the area was six knots south/southwest.

Carpe Diem, Sandrine Bertho (ed. participant in 2009 and now board member of the Classe Mini) presented a friendly warning to all the competitors at the final briefing in Funchal last night. 'Enjoy everything, enjoy every moment of this transatlantic because once in Brazil and Salvador, you will be filled with joy of course but it will also be the end of a dream patiently and passionately prepared for months and years.'

It was with ambitions and without stress that the contestants said goodbye to Funchal. The weather promised a smooth start with a south/southwest flow five to six and the islands in sun. Funchal is located in the south of the volcanic island and it is completely sheltered from the wind because of the mountains (1800 meters). It takes the fleet several hours to leave the area.

76 sailors were to sail to South America and Salvador de Bahia. The Polish sailor, Radoslaw Kowalczyk (790 - Calbud) who arrived last night at around 9:00 p.m - after a short night, a medical and technical check - chose to be at the start with his friends. Only the Italian Sergio Frattaruollo (769 Bologna in oceano) remained in port. He discovered that he had a problem with his fuel cell and wanted to solve it. He left Funchal's marina in the middle of the afternoon to join the rest of the fleet.

For many competitors the departure from La Rochelle on the 25th of September was the result of two to three years of financial and personal sacrifices.... and that was poignant. The frenzied audience, friends, relatives, the prospect of a transatlantic adventure had generated tension and nervousness. It was a radical change of atmosphere in Funchal. Being already far away and having the experience of the first ten days at sea, has disconnected the skippers from their daily lives. But the Mini 'spirit' remains... They were closer and more united than ever on the pontoons of Madeira. Slaps on the back, hugs, handshakes and complicity and friendship glances while the boats were towed toward the starting area.

After a short 'sprint' of two miles that the skippers covered in less than 40 minutes, Etienne David - the Swiss - was the first to the first buoy mark followed closely by four other competitors - Thomas Normand (787 - Financière de l'Echiquier) - and the first Series - the Italian, Giacomo Sabbatini (554 - Scusami La Spalle). Andrea Caracci (756 - Speedy Maltese) and Bertrand Delesne (754 - Zone Large) followed. The rest of the fleet joined them quickly and in a very tight pack.

The Atlantic is now wide open and ahead of the fleet ... downwind navigation is suggested by all the weather forecasts until Canaries Islands, with a gradual strengthening of the breeze.

A perfect to start for the Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 leg 2.

Prototypes ranking – Leg 1 La Rochelle/Funchal – 33 boats:

1. Sébastien Rogues (719 – Eole Generation – GDF SUEZ), 8d 20h 46m 43s
2. David Raison (757 – TeamWork Evolution), 8d 21h 15m 8s
3. Jorg Riechers (753 –Mare.de), 8d 22h 10m 7s

Series ranking – 1st leg La Rochelle/Funchal – 46 boats:

1. Benoît Mariette (599 – Odalys Vacances), 9d 8h 31m 39s
2. Clément Bouyssou (514 –Douet Distribution), 9d 9h 22m 56s
3. Davy Beaudart (674 - Innovea Environnement), 9d 9h 59m 18s

Depart de Funchal - La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 2011
© Pierrick Garenne / GPO

La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 website