No prologue at Mini Transat race, plus interesting decision to allow those on waiting list to enter at last minute 13/9/07

The atmosphere in the Bassin des Chalutiers in La Rochelle – the home of the Mini Transat start (or Transat 6,50 Charente-Maritime/Bahia as it is now known) – is beginning to hot up because not only is today the deadline for safety checks before Sunday’s start, but visitors, including friends, relatives and VIPs are starting to flock to the port for the full Mini Transat experience organised by the Grand Pavois.

There’s also been some interesting decisions made which has made for a bit of criticism among the fleet over the last couple of days including cancelling the prologue.

The prologue, which usually takes place a couple of days prior to the Transat start is an important aspect of the race for not only the competitors but as a ‘dress rehersal’ for the organisers. But supporting the decision not to run the race Denis Hugues, the Race Director, commented: “The tidal situation was wrong – too early or too late – and because the boats have to be locked out, it was not possible.”

From a competitor’s point of view, Sam Manuard – one of the race favourites, added his opinion: “It’s sad not to see a prologue. A prologue is a way to make sure everything on the boat is set up correctly. I think it is pretty bad not to have a prologue.”

The other interesting decision that the organisers made was to suddenly allow the five remaining competitors on the waiting list permission to enter, making the total entry 89. While those on the list are obviously pleased about ‘change of tack’ including race favourite Yves le Blevec see previous news story here , it’s a surprising decision, bearing in mind the organisers’ usual strict rulings, and one that raises the question why did this happen this year, and not in 2005 (the last event) when there was just one on the waiting list?

Hugues, commenting on the decision told “Life is not fair! The reason it has been allowed this time is because there has been an agreement between the Class Mini and organisation and I agreed. The class asked the organisers if it was possible to increase numbers, and it has been accepted that the French Sailing Authority would allow this on the condition there was another support boat. We provided another support boat which now makes a total of eight for the race. Also this time we could allow more to enter because we five spare beacons that each boat has to carry.”

When questioned about whether he was worried about setting a precedent for future events, Hugues added: “I hope not because it is always very difficult to increase the numbers at the last minute, and the competitors are not as well prepared.”