The second leg of the Mini Transat race has begun in La Palma in the Canary Islands. After an action-packed first leg that included no shortage of drama and crazy plot twists, this second leg should be a bit more straightforward, with a long and slightly more predictable downwinder across the Atlantic. Having departed La Palma on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. local time, the 87-strong fleet will sail 2,700 miles downwind in the northeast trades before arriving at the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Today’s start has proven to be a light-air affair, as forecast. This second leg also proposes a healthy challenge in dealing with shifty breeze that could include some big soft spots on the course.
The biggest headline in the race thus far is the controversy that has developed, primarily in the Series division. A time credit of up to 24 hours has been awarded to 80 boats that stopped to avoid severe conditions during the first leg. The issuance of the time credit effectively wipes out any cushion that Leg 1 winner Melwin Fink had built up, and it moves second-place Series finisher Christian Kargl down to third place. It also makes it much more likely that a French skipper will win the race in both divisions. This decision has proven to be pretty universally unpopular, based on social media comments and forum posts. Several renowned sailors, including Loïck Peyron, posted their disapproval for the decision.
The American Entry
American Jay Thompson sits in a respectable eighth place in the Prototype division, though with no realistic shot to land on the podium. (The top four prototypes are absolutely launched in the rankings, with a nearly three-day cushion.) The California native had a rough leg that included being one of a handful of boats damaged by an orca! After destroying one of his T-foil rudders in the incident, the highly skilled boat preparateur Thompson rebuilt the rudder in La Palma. He started the second leg back at 100%.
Unfortunately for Thompson, the second leg looks to offer no advantage to the foiling boats, and perhaps even a disadvantage. Light and fluky conditions could see their foils be as much of a hindrance as an advantage.
With 2,700 miles of sailing to the finish in the Caribbean, it’s still all to play for in this 23rd edition of the Mini Transat! Follow the race and stay up to date at www.minitransat.fr/en.