Mini Transat - All hands on deck

The 84 boats are in Port-Rhu
©Jacques Vapillon / Mini Transat 2013
In the Mini Transat, tonight 84 single handers are all present and correct, or almost, on the pontoons of Port Rhu. Come sunrise the competitors will awake to the delightful surroundings in which their racing machines are embedded. Meanwhile, volunteers and professionals are working hard to finalise the race village, whose inauguration is scheduled for tomorrow.

'Between the on the water teams, the shoreside logistics and those assisting the competitors and the public, more than 150 volunteers have been mobilised for ten days,' says Gwen Chapalain, CEO of the Mini Transat. 'They have many highlights, especially in the prologue 'Everything starts in Finistère ' (Sunday, October 6) and the start day (Sunday, October 13). One of the big challenges will come when we have to move all 84 boats out of Port Rhu at around 1.30pm on each day. This is just one of the challenges the volunteer team will have to perform. To make it possible fifty boats and their drivers will be mobilised to tow the boats to the starting area, to maintain the course area security perimeters, and to accommodate the press and spectators.

On the dock of the Port Rhu, exhibitors are busy ensuring that no loose ends are left untied ready for tomorrow, Friday, the opening day. CCI Cornouaille has been dressing the sailors’ tent, where every day eight or nine skippers will be presented to the public between 14.00 and 15.00. In this tent Lucile Chombart de Lauwe will present his photographic exhibition dedicated to the sailors of the Mini Transat 2011. Portraits in black and white of the men and women recording them at the start of their adventure and again at the finish of the race across the Atlantic, which show unequivocally just how they are changed by their several weeks in solitude. On the Brittany regional stand will be the 'Sea View' exhibition, which occupies 150m2, and is dedicated to the ports, to marine renewable energy, to the fisheries and to aquaculture to raise the awareness of Bretton’s of the tremendous advantage they gain in having more than 2700 km of coastline.

Tonight at 18.00, we hit the deadline for all to be present in Port Rhu. With few exceptions, they will all be there after journeys of varying length and difficulty. The soloists based on the Atlantic and Channel coasts unanimously made their way to Douarnenez by sea. For many, it gave them a final opportunity for final performance comparisons with others in the fleet. This is the case for Damien Cloarec and Yannick Le Clec'h who trained in company with others from the Bay of Morlaix and from Lorient and who have not lost their habit of navigating as a fleet. It was quite different from those who came from the Mediterranean. For them only road transport is feasible and many now have a greater appreciation of the fact that the maximum width of the boat was decided based on the maximum towing widths allowed on the road, thus avoiding the need to use a special transport. Just today German sailor Henrik Mazekowitz arrived in Douarnenez and after nearly twenty-four hours of driving with his Mini in tow, he asked permission from the race committee not to join the Port Rhu gathering until tomorrow after putting the boat in the water in the morning.

For latecomers who can not prove a case of force majeure, the rule is simple: there will be a financial penalty of €80 per day which will be donated to the lifeboat. While the Port Rhu never relaxes, the ladies of the Mini will enjoy a complimentary pamper session at the Thalasso Douarnenez. Seven of the ten female competitors taking part in the race have accepted the invitation. There are definitely some advantages to being part of the minority!

Mini Transat website