Mini Transat 2021 Leg 2 Finale
Velotrade skipper Brieuc Lebec (914) finished in 17th position after 16 days, 15 hours, 12 minutes and 20 seconds of challenge and adventure at sea.
We are very proud of this remarkable achievement as it represents a feat of superb seamanship.
Journey Through the Last Miles
The final leg of the Mini Transat Challenge spanned 2,700 miles from Santa Cruz de La Palma to Saint-François, Guadeloupe, and was much longer than the first. This was the true transatlantic section of the race, as the skippers crossed through the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands. The NE’ly gusts, which usually occur in the Atlantic, were nearly non-existent this time.
This leg witnessed substantial gaps within the first 24 hours of the race as the fleet scattered in different directions, sprawling over 180 miles in latitude and 130 miles in longitude. Unlike leg 1, the weather conditions played as expected for most of the crossing. With countless light air patches throughout the voyage, all sailors were focused and opportunistic. Each sailor followed their set of strategies aiming to gain wherever possible.
The conditions along the path between the Canaries and Cape Verde were forecasted to have stronger wind pressure towards the south and softer to the north. Hence, most sailors decided to head southwards down the Atlantic, linking a series of gybes in a zigzag pattern following the wind shifts along the way.
Although the southern route proved to be favourable, the magnitude of its benefit varied from sailor to sailor. Some received greater wind pressure than others due to their position and were therefore faster. The wind distribution created bigger gaps among rivals within the same route. Compromises between speed and distance had to be made. While some opted to go for the shortest route, others decided to take the longer but faster one.
As the fleet reached below the 1000 miles bar, the wind pressure became uniform at less than 20 knots across the racetrack. Hence, all competitors in the race benefited from the same wind strength towards the final sprint. This was a turning point for sailors who opted for the southern route.
Competitors furthest to the north started enjoying the same benefits as those in the south. The change of conditions shortened the gaps among the fleet, making the race more competitive and uncertain. The match has never been so tight among the production boats in the race’s history. It could have been anyone’s game from there!
A Month at Sea
Brieuc’s feelings upon completing the Mini Transat challenge were mixed. Living alone in the 6.5m boat for nearly a month was undoubtedly a challenging yet an unforgettable learning experience for Brieuc. His first reaction was to blame the sub-optimal tactical move for his worse than expected performance. However, as time passed by, he reflected on the journey as an adventure of a lifetime. Crossing the Atlantic has to be one of the most memorable achievements of his sailing career.
While most chose to take the southern route, Brieuc went for the northern path. Regardless of this unfavourable tactical move, the position he accomplished is remarkable, considering how this was his first Mini Transat Challenge. Months of hard work finally paid off!
Upcoming Event at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club
Brieuc has been sailing for many years now. Before moving back to France, he worked in sales and consulting in Hong Kong for around five years. Unlike his sailing friends who decided to pursue their career in sailing, Brieuc decided to enter the business world while keeping his passion for sailing alive. He participated in many races organised by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. It is not merely his passion for sailing but also his drive to contribute to a broader cause for a sustainable future that made him transition to this new chapter. His newly founded organisation – Maitri – A race for change has been envisioned to achieve this greater objective.
The club will be holding an event on 13th December, where Brieuc has been invited to share his experience from the Mini Transat Challenge. He will join the event virtually through Zoom. It will be an excellent opportunity for him to reunite with his sailing family in Hong Kong, share his learning experience, and provide some valuable tips to all the passionate sailors out there. It will also be a brilliant occasion for attendees to know more about his newly founded organisation and the challenges that lie ahead of him.
Velotrade feels immensely proud to have sponsored Brieuc for a challenge that demonstrates perseverance and willpower to overcome any obstacles that may come one’s way.
Photos by Vincent Olivaud & Alexis Courcoux