The first leg of the Transat 6,50 2001 to Puerto Calero in Lanzarote, has turned out to be longer than anticipated. Now a week after starting the 1,350 mile leg the leaders are over 500 miles away from the finish. In Mini terms this is approximately four days sailing depending on conditions, and some may have to start rationing their food supplies to last them long enough.

On a brighter note this morning brings some warmer weather for the sailors who have not seen much sun since the start. This is more than just a problem of getting a decent suntan, as many of the Minis use solar panels to generate power. Some solely rely on this to charge the batteries which power their electronics, including their autohelms, vital for being able to get some sleep.

Sam Manuard has now taken the lead in the Protos, he is racing his own design which he built in 1998 named Tip Top. Sam told me before the start that he feels his boat is fast in upwind and reaching conditions – exactly the kind the Minis have been experiencing the last few days. Arnaud Boissieres on is now in second, then Yannick Bestaven also on another and fourth this morning is Briton Simon Curwen on QDS.

Curwen, an environmental consultant, has so far sailed an excellent race not being outside the top 5 since the start. He is no doubt a capable and experienced sailor but was not predicted to do as well as the professional sailors or those who have been sailing Minis for longer. He has certainly proved us all wrong, which is exactly what the Mini Transat is about. To quote UK Mini Class Association president Ian McKay “the first leg is a great leveller” this is all too true with professional sailors in his wake Curwen is taking the French leaders by storm.

Other British sailors: Brian Thompson on Lighthouse Life Foudation is now in seventh, Sam Davies is 14th just ahead of Mike Inglis on Atomic in 15th. Bringing up the rear are Ian Munslow in 20th place and the re-started Paul Peggs in 25th who is heading for Cape Finisterre.

There are two pleasant surpises in the top ten; Frenchwoman Jeanne Gregoire on is in 6th place and David Raison on Nauti-Park/Navtec in the 8th position. Neither are favorites but both have been sailing alongside the best of them. Jeanne Gregoire at 25 is the youngest of the five women competing in the race.

There have been two retirements so far in the race: Jean Marie Vidal in the Series class and Bruno Ginocchio in the Proto. Bernard Sourisse has been disqualified after recieving outside assistance entering a harbour.

Below are the lastest positions on Saturday 29th Sept 2001 – 11:12GMT


1; 258; MANUARD Samuel; TIP TOP / CHARMILLES SALES; CL; 0536.2; N373015; W0121861

2; 303; BOISSIERES Arnaud; AQUARELLE.COM; CL; 0537.3; N373141; W0122083

3; 304; BESTAVEN Yannick; AQUARELLE.COM; CL; 0540.4; N372538; W0111373

4; 240; CURWEN Simon; QDS; CL; 0542.9; N372848; W0111616

5; 151; LE BLEVEC Yves; ACTUAL INTERIM; CL; 0567.6; N373421; W0095598

6; 139; GREGOIRE Jeanne; AQUARELLE .COM; CL; 0571.9; N375941; W0112313

7; 247; THOMPSON Brian; LIGHTHOUSE LIFE FOUNDATION; CL; 0572.7; N374848; W0102710

8; 232; RAISON David; NAUTI-PARK / NAVTEC; CL; 0587.4; N382351; W0125786

9; 198; LEIBOVICI Karen; RADICALBOATS.COM; CL; 0594.0; N380826; W0101665

10; 227; DEVILLARD Xavier; RUSSE NOIR; CL; 0598.4; N382216; W0105843

11; 238; RIONDEL Jean; TOULON VAR PROVENCE; CL; 0599.6; N383560; W0125573

12; 265; JANTET André; ELA; CL; 0616.7; N383773; W0104168

13; 135; CORNIC Antoine; OCEANIC; CL; 0621.9; N385331; W0114658

14; 276; DAVIES Samantha; ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT; CL; 0667.5; N393086; W0104591

15; 56; INGLIS Michael; ATOMIC; CL; 0671.0; N393448; W0104616

16; 117; BIGOT Gaël; TEAM 117; CL; 0682.2; N395371; W0114153

17; 33; LEQUIN Benoît; AIXLESBA