Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Galway's Yannick Lemonnier Aims for Mini Transat 2021 in September

25th February 2021
The new look for Yannick Lemonnier's Mini 6.50. Original designer Sam Manuard has done away with the single canard daggerboard, and replaced it with two asymmetrical foils
The new look for Yannick Lemonnier's Mini 6.50. Original designer Sam Manuard has done away with the single canard daggerboard, and replaced it with two asymmetrical foils

Quite a few of us still think of Yannick Lemonnier as the keen young French guy who came to Galway by way of Dingle, and in time became the Irish branch of Quantum Sails, with a new loft in the City of the Tribes. But he turned 50 last July, and was thinking of unfinished business, even though he and his son Sean – they're a formidable team – were on their way to winning the Cong-Galway Race for the second year running.

Being King Cong twice on the trot would be enough for most of us for a while. But Yannick was remembering that, when he got into top-level competitive sailing on his native waters in the Bay of Biscay at the age of 26, his foremost ambition was to race the Mini Transat 6.5 across the Atlantic

King Cong. Sean Lemonnier and his dad Yannick after winning the Cong-Galway race for the second year runningKing Cong. Sean Lemonnier and his dad Yannick after winning the Cong-Galway race for the second year running

You might well think that as the boats are only 6.5 metres in overall length, there'd be more of them available second-hand for rookie skippers. But on the contrary, around La Rochelle he found that Figaro boats of several vintages were in much more plentiful and affordable supply for charter, and he found himself being "trapped" into competing in no less than five Figaros.

And when he started to make his mark on the Irish scene, it was racing the Figaro 2 DoDingle in the 2004 Round Ireland Race in the Two-Handed Division, co-skippering with Galway's Aodhan FitzGerald to such good effect that their time stood as the Two-Handed Round Ireland Record until 2016, and even then it was only bested by a Belgian Class 40 which in turn was beaten by Pam Lee of Greystones and Cat Hunt in a Figaro 3 in October 2020.

The newly-acquired boat making well to windward, but nevertheless reminding us that when all is said and done, a Mini 6.50 is just 21.3 ft long. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien The newly-acquired boat making well to windward, but nevertheless reminding us that when all is said and done, a Mini 6.50 is just 21.3 ft long. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien

But by 2016, while Yannick had made a significant mark on Irish sailing, the Mini-Transat itch hadn't gone away, and by 2018 he'd bought a well-proven Sam Manuard-designed Mini 491 with which he promptly won the developing Mini class in that year's Round Ireland Race, and the following year, after regular shipmate Dan Mill the ace boatbuilder had sustained a serious knee injury 24 hours before the race, he won the class in the Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race 2019.

He was ultimately crewed with minutes to spare by pierhead jumper John Malone of Lough Ree YC, Ireland's SB20 Class President, who subsequently provided an entertaining account of what it's like to be power-hosed for hours on end while your Mini 6.50 tears down Ireland's East Coast with everything set in a roaring nor'easter at an average of 22 knots.

An already well-worn Lough Ree YC cap has taken another battering – SB20 Class President John Malone and Yannick Lemonnier at the conclusion of a successful Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2019An already well-worn Lough Ree YC cap has taken another battering – SB20 Class President John Malone and Yannick Lemonnier at the conclusion of a successful Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2019. Photo: John Malone

The basic design of Mini 6.50s has moved on since this boat first appeared, as we well know from the appearance of current "Irish Sailor of the Year" Tom Dolan's Pogo 3 Smurfit Kappa, which placed sixth in 2017's hop across the pond. But Yannick Lemonnier's boat still has plenty of oomph, so much so that designer Sam Manuard has come on board with plans for a new twin daggerboard arrangement which he reckons will bring on planing speeds earlier, thanks to a slight inward angle, thereby providing the possibility of sustaining 24 knots for long periods.

iew from astern, showing new starboard foil activated. Sam Manuard has angled the new asymmetrical foils slightly inwards, on the theory that they will start to provide real lift sooner than a vertical or outward-angled foil View from astern, showing new starboard foil activated. Sam Manuard has angled the new asymmetrical foils slightly inwards, on the theory that they will start to provide real lift sooner than a vertical or outward-angled foil

As the foil in use will be on the opposite side to the canting keel, both will be operating in relatively undisturbed water.As the foil in use will be on the opposite side to the canting keel, both will be operating in relatively undisturbed water

These very special asymmetrical carbon foils are being made in a purpose-created workshop unit in a corner of the Quantum Galway premises by Dan Mill in an upgrade and campaign project currently being supported by Port of Galway, Quantum Sails, Premium Ropes, Dubarry, the Irish Mini Class and West Sails.

Once the boat is afloat, the programme is hectic:

  • Early April : launch then testing of new Dagger boards and new mast rake between Galway Bay and Dingle
  • End April: 1000 miles solo non-stop qualifier course finishing in La Trinite Sur Mer
  • 22th May start of the "Mini en Mai 6.5", La Trinite Sur Mer, 500 miles/ solo
  • 13th June start of the "Mini Fastnet 6.5" , Douarnenez, 600 miles/ double handed
  • 28th July start of the "Mini Gascogna", 580 miles/ double-handed (Backup race in case there was an issue finishing a previous race)
  • 26th Sept, the start of the Mini Transat 2021:
  • Leg 1: Les Sables D'olonne- Santa Cruz de la Palma (Canary Island), 1350 miles
  • Leg 2: Start early November Santa Cruz de la Palma (Canary Island)- St Francois (Guadeloupe), 2700 miles
  • Early December loading boats for shipping back to France

Course for the Mini Transat 2021, starting on September 26th at Les Sables d'Olonnne. By the time Yannick Lemonnier is on the starting line, he will already have sailed thousands of miles with his re-configured boat.Course for the Mini Transat 2021, starting on September 26th at Les Sables d'Olonnne. By the time Yannick Lemonnier is on the starting line, he will already have sailed thousands of miles with his re-configured boat

Despite the intensity of the programmme, Yannick reckons the longest he'll be away from the loft is one period of only 16-17 days, but in any case, Quantum colleagues in Ireland such as Mark Mansfield, and others abroad, will be rallying round to maintain the well-established smooth service.

As we emerge from lockdown, it will be fascinating to follow this very special example of competitive sailing life returning to our seas, and grasping the first possible opportunity to fulfill a long-held dream. For as Yannick himself says: "You only live once".

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

Email The Author

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating