In the Prototype division – chronicle of a victory foretold
There will only be 8 boats in the starting lineup of this twelfth edition of the Marie-Agnès Péron Trophy. The Mini Prototype division is going through a big transition with the arrival of the ‘snub noses’, which form a dramatic departure from the norm in the Mini Class, and equally affect design and performance. So quite a few protos have seen their competitiveness diminish, and not that many sailboats are being designed following this new model, but there will soon be more, let’s just be patient!
In the absence of more ‘snub noses’, the path is all clear for Ian Lipinski on the 865, Griffon.fr, to go it alone again. The Parisian skipper has won all the Altlantic regattas with flying colours in the Mini circuit this year. Already in first place in the 2015 Mini Transat in the Production division, he went on to sail in the Proto division on the boat designer David Raison’s latest offering in 2016, winning the Lorient Sud Transat, the Pornichet Sélect 6.50, and the Mini en Mai.
As for silver and bronze, Estonian Jaanus Tamme on 787, Ropeye, intends to repeat his performance from last month in Pornichet, where he snatched second place. However, the very experienced and highly motivated Maxime Salle on 618, On the Road Again II, will not give up easily on second place. We must also mention the Lombard designed 850, April Marine, a very good sailing boat, skippered by Clément Machetel, in his first race.
Not to forget the Rolland designed 138, Poch’trot, the oldest Mini in the fleet, with which Bernard Stam took third place in the Mini Transat 1995. This time, and for the second year running, Thomas Grandin will be at the helm.
In the Production division – a devil of a fight
Thanks to their keel and their rudder blades, there is no question that the Pogo3s will dominate this category. Only a few of the top competitors manage to stand up to them, just about. In this respect, neither Henri Patou on his Bertrand Ofcet 6.50 nor Erwann le Mené on his Lombard Argo 6.50 will be in the running. Therefore the podium positions, or even the top 10 can hardly escape being taken by the latest offering from the Structures boatyard. Several skippers stand out as the potential winners.
Giving credit where credit is due, the Trophy’s four-time winner Davy Beaudart doubtlessly deserves first mention, even though it will be his first time sailing a Pogo3. On board the 869, Le Faufiffon Hénaff, he will be the one for the other competitors to catch.
After coming third in the Bretagne Sud Mini, second in the Mini en Mai and winning the Pornichet Sélect 6.50, Pierre Chedeville on 887, Blue Orange Game, has got a proven track record. The highest ranked for this race and at the top of the French Championship’s provisional rankings, he certainly won’t want to lose his position – it’s not in his DNA. It’s worth remembering that the MAP Trophy is the second of four stages in the French Championship (the next and last being the two Azores stages).
Tom Dolan on 910, Offshoresailing.fr, has just taken a masterful victory in La Mini en Mai, showing, as much in brisk winds as in calm conditions, a kind of superiority that everyone admired. The most Breton of Irishmen is no sailor to let anyone show him their transom.
On 882, Volvo-Viva for Life, the Belgian Jonas Gerckens will not go down without a fight. Managing the light winds forecast for the race isn’t one of his strentghs, but here we have a sailor who won’t back down until the finish line. In the absence of Renault Mary, the chance of a second place in the French championship’s ranking will serve as further motivation.
Always waiting in ambush, and ranked second for this race, Tanguy Bouroullec on 909, Pogo Partners, will be trying his best to turn his excellent past performances into a podium position.
Coming fourth in the Mini en Mai, his first race this season due to a boat lifting accident, Yannick Le Clech on 906, Dragobert, can also be seen as a very serious competitor, who aims to make up for lost time spent in the boatyard.
It would be a mistake not to place a big bet on young Erwann le Draoulec, on 895, Emile Henry. Although he isn’t twenty yet, he has a wealth of experience and thanks to his magnificent seamanship in the final stages, he can often be found ready to pounce near the finish line.
Gwenno Gahinet, at the helm of the 902, Clarisse Crémer’s Merci Logways, should definitely not be discounted either. Although he registered at the last minute, the talent he showed as winner of the Mini Transat 2011 should bear fruit.
So we have here 8 very serious candidates for one podium and for first place. A cracking contest making for a magnificent spectacle, and also, in all likelihood, given the forecast for calm conditions, suspense galore!!!!