These skippers from elsewhere - Mini-Transat La Boulangère
To date, 69 women and men have officially registered for the 22nd edition of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère (52 on production boats and 17 on prototypes). Nineteen international skippers, from eleven countries, have signed up. This representation might well increase too, since four non-French sailors are on the waiting list and four other skippers have pre-registered. The international dynamic is synonymous with the history of the Mini-Transat, a race in which some 35 countries and 5 continents have been represented since the 1st edition in 1977.
Singlehanded offshore racing is a French speciality and the Mini-Transat La Boulangère is no exception to the phenomenon. That said, the event has always attracted skippers from elsewhere, with some solid results at times too. For example, in 2017, two international sailors finished on the podium in the prototype category, behind the untouchable Ian Lipinski: Jörg Riechers (GER 2nd) and Simon Koster (SUI 3rd).
19 sailors, 11 nationalities, 16 rookies, 3 'repeat offenders' and eight other applicants
As we go to press, there are 19 non-French entries in the Mini-Transat 2019 (see the list below): four Italians, three Belgians, two Swiss, two Spanish, two Russians, one German, one Greek, one Czech, one Estonian, one Japanese and one representative of the United Arab Emirates. Thirteen have signed up in the production boat category and six in the prototype category. Among these sailors, just three have already participated in the event: the Italian Ambrogio Beccaria, Estonian Jaanus Tamme and the Czech Pavel Roubal. The 16 others will be discovering the exercise for the very first time.
This international contingent might well be fleshed out further as two Spaniards, one Briton and one Italian are on the waiting list. Finally, two other Italians, one Pole and one Australian are pre-registered and have high hopes of taking the start on 22 September in La Rochelle. In this way, up to 14 nationalities could well be represented for this 22nd edition.
Ambrogio Beccaria, a serious contender for victory in the production boat category
Among the competing international sailors, one man in particular appears poised to go for gold, Ambrogio Beccaria. In 2018, the Italian won five of the six races in which he participated, including Les Sables-Les Açores-Les Sables. This year, he's bagged the win in the Pornichet Select, the Trophée Marie-Agnès Peron and recently the Mini-Fastnet (with his compatriot Alberto Riva). He will be one of the skippers to beat. "With his Pogo 3, Ambrogio has been sailing remarkably well. He's serious, eyes all the good moves, goes fast and makes few mistakes. To my mind he's THE favourite in the production category", says Jean Saucet, Technical Director of the Mini-Transat La Boulangère and a connoisseur of the Class.
"Everyone battling away in their category"
The other international participants are keeping their ambitions in check. However, these women and men are still great sailors and they're competitive too. "Time is against them and they don't have the technical and financial means to chase the top spots", according to Jean Saucet. "However, they're not just in it for the adventure. Everyone is battling away in their category, according to their means." Swiss sailor Andréa Pawlotzki perfectly sums up the general mindset: "The Mini-Transat is a dream; it's always been part of my make-up. It can't be explained, quite simply it's the natural expression of a strong passion. Through my participation, I'm essentially expecting to get to the other side of the Atlantic, having as much fun as possible along the way. After that, if I manage to leave a few boats in my wake, that'll be even better!"
The international skippers in the Mini-Transat La Boulangère 2019
Production boat entries
Ambrogio Beccaria (Italy) – 2nd participation
Marco Buonanni (Italy) – 1st participation
Alessio Campriani (Italy) – 1st participation
Luigi Dubini (Spain) – 1st participation
Mathieu Gobet (Switzerland) – 1st participation
Irina Gracheva (Russia) – 1st participation
Albert Lagneaux (Belgium) – 1st participation
Marie-Amélie Lenaerts (Belgium) – 1st participation
Andréa Pawlotzki (Switzerland) – 1st participation
Thibault Raymakers (Belgium) – 1st participation
Pavel Roubal (Czech Republic) – 2nd participation
Maza Suzuki (Japan) – 1st participation
Hendrik Witzmann (United Arab Emirates) – 1st participation
Morten Bogacki (Germany) – 1st participation
Pep Costa (Spain) – 1st participation
Fedor Druzhinin (Russia) – 1st participation
Luca Rosetti (Italy) – 1st participation
Markos Spyropoulos (Greece) – 1st participation
Jaanus Tamme (Estonia) – 2nd participation
Raphaël Fortes (Spain)
Joe Lacey (UK)
Daniele Nanni (Italy)
Miguel Rondon (Spain)
Davide Lusso (Italy)
Jon Rowe (Australia)
Matteo Sericano (Italy)
Michal Adam Veselak (Poland)