© 2020 Nicolas d'Estais

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Looking back on the 2014 Mini Fastnet


Looking back on the Mini Fastnet that ended in the early hours of Friday with Nicolas d’Estais and Clément Bouyssou securing a 4th position on-board proto 630 – Lenger.fr. They arrived in Douarnenez after more than 4 days and a half out racing.

You just came fourth in your first race with your proto, you must be very happy!

Yes absolutely! I never thought we would do that well. It was my first race with the boat, but also I had never spent such a long time at sea. Racing alongside competitive prototypes was great. Finishing my first race with such a good ranking and only 20 minutes from the third boat was all icing on the cake. It’s a very promising result.

How do you explain this result?

Our tandem with Clément worked very well. The experience he has built in the last four years in the series boat class was very useful to us to gain boat speed. More time will be needed to get to sail the boat to 100% of its potential but already on this first race we didn’t suffer from any lack of speed relative to our close competitors, which is very positive.

I also think that we managed to stay focused and motivated towards our objective in difficult times. For example, our NKE system (which gives information such as boat speed, wind direction and strength) fell through in the first night. We had to sail the entire race without it and more importantly without any auto helm. This was very detrimental to our performance, especially at night. In spite of this, we managed to fight hard enough to come first in the group of prototypes we were sailing with.

Will you keep any memories in particular?

Yes, a couple. The first was shortly after the start. We were the first boat in the entire fleet to reach the first mark, Basse Vieille. We knew it was only the beginning of the race and there was no reason to get overexcited (as a matter of fact it wasn’t long before a couple of boats overtook us!) but it was a sweet revenge after I had to abandon the Lorient BSM back in April – we had been hit by another competitor shortly after the start, before we could even reach the windward mark.

The second happened just before we rounded the Fastnet rock. When we got to Ireland, where the Stags bank sits, winds got very light and with 679 and 667 we were all within 3 miles of each other. In the night, the wind completely dropped and we started drifting backwards because of the tide. The two other boats anchored to get some sleep whilst waiting for slack water, which wasn’t before a few hours. With Clément we decided not to anchor and to keep fighting to make some ground forward. At first this didn’t work but soon we saw a bit of wind that enabled us to sail forward. We passed 667 and then 679 who were still anchored and sleeping inside their boat. In fact we passed so close to them that we took great care not to make too much noise that would wake them up! Thanks to this we managed to overtake both of them just before rounding the Fastnet rock. They never closed back on us.

What have you learnt from the race?

To sail on one of the longest Mini race doubled handed with Clément taught me a bunch on two different aspects. The first is about race management, on sleep management for example. Even if waking up from the 20 minutes naps we allowed ourselves was tough most of the time, we never burned ourselves out. This enabled us to make decisions (such as sail changes or which trajectory we were going to go for) in good mind conditions.

The second aspect is about getting to know the boat. I have very little experience on my proto. Racing against other boats is the best way to learn how to push it to its full potential because you realise straight away when a little something is off. In addition to this, whenever we manoeuvre the boat, either Clément or I take the helm and the other does everything alone. Either by observing Clément or by having him closely watching my manoeuvring, it’s basically a one-on-one teaching situation!

What are you upcoming plans?

The boat hadn’t been pushed hard for a while so there are a few repairs that need to be made. After this I’ll deliver the boat back to Lorient and start training for single-handed sailing. I’d like to complete my 1000 miles qualifying passage in August. It is one of many requirements to compete in the 2015 Mini Transat, which is my ultimate goal.

Mini Fastnet 2014 – Prototype Rankings

1) 754 EPC - REVES DE CLOWN Damien AUDRAIN / Pierre BRASSEUR en en 4d12:50:30

2) 753 WILD SIDE Luke BERRY / Pierre DENJEAN en 4d13:19:59

3) 814 CHOCOLATS PARIES - SYGESPRO Jean-Baptiste DARAMY / Pierre-François DARGNIES en 4d13:53:35

4) 630 LENGER.FR Nicolas d'ESTAIS / Clément BOUYSSOU en 4d14:14:34

5) 667 MICROVITAE Ludovic MECHIN / Alan ROURA en 4d14:37:13

6) 865 CULTISOL Davy BEAUDART / David RAISON en 4d14:39:02

7) 679 SURFRIDER FOUNDATION EUROPE Vincent GRISON / Estelle GRECK en 4d15:23:42

8) 719 A2J COMPOSITES Jérôme JARLANG / Maxime SALLE en 4d16:31:27

9) 866 ENTREPRISE(S) INNOVANTE(S) Ian LIPINSKI / Charlie PINOT en 4d16:56:33

10) 491 MARCEL FOR EVER Robin MARAIS / Nathalie DEVOUGE en 4d17:23:40

11) 741 AH2O Nikki CURWEN / Myles PERRIN en 4d17:55:35

12) 196 REALITY Jean-Christophe ALLO / Diane DHOME en 4d22:18:03

13) 254 MINI SKIRT Alan PEYAUD / Frédéric GOURLAOUEN 5d00:14:24

I would like to thank:

My brothers Thomas and Victor as well as my mum for coming to Douarnenez to see me finish. It was an incredible surprise!

Pierre-Henri for updating my twitter feed during the race

Tash and Rosanna for their very convincing words of support

Rémi and Vincent, who used to co-own the boat for their continuous help in my project.

All volunteers from the Winches Club for their hard work and for organising such a great race.

All mini sailors for the great spirit of mutual assistance that exists on the pontoons and at sea.