Fred Duthil sailing his Magnen/Nivelt 99 design Prototype leads the fleet off the Mini Transat start line

Having been waiting patiently on shore since Sunday for the weather to settle, the 70 competitors in the Mini Transat finally made their way to the start line off La Rochelle this afternoon.

The decision by Grand Pavios and Class Mini to postpone the start for two days was well received and the weather for the eventual start at 1730 today couldn’t have been better.

In a 20kt north-north-westerly and two-metre swell the 70-boat fleet crossed the startline and commenced their 1,350-mile first leg of the course to Lanzarote.

Fred Duthil sailing his Magnen/Nivelt 99 design Prototype led the fleet to the first turning mark – two miles from the start line – but Jonathan McKee the American hotshot sailing Team McLube, the British-designed Rogers 99 Prototype, and Pierre Rolland sailing his own design are continuing to keep the pressure on as they approach Fort Boyard, the disused prison off La Rochelle.

Once they clear Boyard they’ll be on track and should arrive in Lanzarote by 17 September.

Jean Luc van den Heede, two times Mini Transat sailor finishing fourth and second respectively, and skipper of Adrien, the yacht in which he is hoping to break the east to west, non-stop, world speed record, was in La Rochelle before the start to wish the competitors well. He had this advice: “The Mini Transat is a great race in which anybody can compete and win and it’s a relatively cheap class to get in to. Sail the boat well and be careful. Always stay on the boat! Have a safe trip but try to push the boat as much as possible without breaking anything. Remember, if you break things, that’s the end of the race.”