First leg of the Mini Transat: Quentin Vlamynck still in the race!

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Quentin Vlamynck seized a 14th place in the first leg of the Mini Transat La Boulangère, in the prototype category. The skipper of the Mini 6.50 Arkema 3 made the most of sailing the ocean over ten and a half days to gain a new strong maritime experience and draw valuable lessons on how to sail his innovative boat.

As he sailed from La Rochelle on 1st October, Quentin Vlamynck was counting on 8 days' sailing. But he had not reckoned with a huge wind hole in which the entire Mini Transat La Boulangère flotilla was stuck, including the skipper of the Arkema 3 Mini 6.50. Quentin sailed into Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at 3.59 am (French time) on Thursday 12 October, finally completing this first 1,350 mile leg in 10 days 11 hours 59 minutes and 10 seconds.

Quentin Vlamynck at the start of the Mini Transat 2017

Interview with Quentin Vlamynck

Quentin, tell us about this first leg in broad terms?

Quentin Vlamynck: "I found sailing across the Bay of Biscay quite tricky and I fell back quickly. Off Cape Finisterre (Galicia), we hit rather strong winds, I did my best not to damage the boat. Then the situation looked clearer in the West and I went back on the attack. The winds dropped slightly and I hit dead calms. This situation lasted, there was no end to it. I had to bide my time and let the boat sail on as well as possible."

But in the end you contained the damage and the gaps are not critical for the arrival…

Quentin Vlamynck: "Yes indeed, but actually I am somewhat frustrated at my ranking; however, in terms of time at sea, it's OK, the others are not too far in front. I came in about 12 hours after the leaders. It's quite a bit and it will be difficult to completely make up for lost time, but I think I could still make it in the top 5. It will depend on the weather conditions we have."

Physically, how were these past 10 days and a half like at sea?

Quentin Vlamynck: "It all went very well, it was a great experience. Completing the Mini Transat in 2015 helped me a lot, in particular for the pace of life on board. I was careful not to go into the red in terms of sleep, at the same time we had the opportunity to sleep during those long periods without any wind! Arkema 3 is a performance-oriented boat and so requires sacrifices in terms of comfort.  Even though this leg was longer than anticipated, I had enough food as I didn’t eat much at the beginning of the race. It was more complicated in terms of water. Actually, this first leg was useful training for the second one. I have learnt a lot. I'm happy with the way I handled things and the way my boat handled itself."

How would you rate the performances of Arkema 3 in this first leg of the Mini Transat?

Quentin Vlamynck: "For a start, I didn't break anything and the boat held up very well, it was super.The 24-30 hours of sustained wind off Cape Finisterre were interesting, even though I was never able to get the foils out because of the wretched sea conditions."

Precisely, how do you envisage the course between the Canaries and Le Marin (Martinique), the biggest chunk of the Mini Transat?

Quentin Vlamynck: "This is a long leg, about two weeks, and a lot can still happen. The gaps can widen quickly. The best thing for me would be to sail in fairly strong downwind conditions from the very start so I can keep up with the boats up at the front. Then steady trade winds and a long swell right up to the finish line..."