Race favourite Sam Manuard chats to yw.com on the eve of the Mini Transat second leg 5/10/07

The second leg of the 16th edition of the Transat 6.50 Charente-Maritime/Bahia (Mini Transat) starts tomorrow at 1202 from Funchal, Madeira.

Most of the 89 competitors have enjoyed two weeks or so break after the first exciting, generally windy first leg from La Rochelle, France on 18 September.

Having won the first leg completing the 1,100-mile course in 5 days, 15 hours, 33 minutes in 30 seconds, French female sailor Isabelle Joschke is now preparing to take on the tough competition she’ll be up against on the next leg. Sailing her brand-new Finot-designed prototypeDegrémont SynergieJoschke sailed spectactular race and managed to hold off her closest rival Sam Manuard onSitting Bull. Manuard however, told yachtingworld.com just before the start in La Rochelle, he has some unfinished business on the racecourse.

In the last edition of the race two year’s ago Manuard went on to win the first leg of the 4,200-mile race and was lying in second on Leg 2 when Jonathan Mckee dismasted not far from the Bahia finish line. Manuard took the lead but broke his mast too – just 60 miles from the finish. He’s now back with a brand-new Manuard design, a new generation prototype Mini and finished second on the first leg.

Chatting on the eve of the second leg Manuard explained to yachtingworld.com what’s in store: “I think this leg is pretty much more open, we have so many things to deal with. First there is the start, then maybe the windshadows from the Canaries so there will be plenty to do with many options to take. On the first leg there was really only one major tactical option for crossing the Bay of Biscay, then it was down to speed.

“Tomorrow for the start we’ll have mild Trade Winds so it will be a generally light start.”

The leading three boats on the first leg not surprisingly comprised three of the race favourites; Isabelle Joschke, Manuard, and Yves Le Blevec. Joschke and Manuard are both sailing brand-new boats this year so it will be interesting to see how their three designs compares as they make their way across the Atlantic. Manuard says that his design and Le Blevec’s boat are not too dissimilar and will be most powerful in reaching conditions but Isabelle’s boat is more of a downwind flyer, Manuard added: “If anything I would think Isabelle will be slightly slower therefore on the first section of the race in the south-east trade that we’re going to catch. But it is all so wide open at this stage.”

Because the race is all about overall time rather than positions Manuard has a bit of work to do to catch up with the speedy Frenchwomen, particularly as he had to take a penalty to add to his time. “I was lying about four hours behind but it’s now six because of my penalty. I had some doubts about my keel, so I asked the jury if I could reinforce my keel. They were then very concerned and told me I had to repair the keel otherwise I couldn’t continue. They also said I had to take a two-hour penalty. I now have a bit of catching up to do but I believe I can do it.”

Chatting about the atmosphere in Funchal Manard says he speaks for most competitors when he says: “I’m now just itching to get going again. I’ve been here a long time now – 15 days and it’s time to go.”