MACIF arrives in New York City, July 3, 2017 (Photo © Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co.)

François Gabart and the crew on MACIF win THE BRIDGE 2017 Ultime Trimarans – Centennial Transat race as they crossed under the The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on July 3rd at 13:31 EST. The crew consisting of François Gabart – skipper, Pascal Bidégorry, Guillaume Combescure, Antoine Gautier, Benoît Marie and Yann Riou. They crossed in 8 days, 31 minutes and 20 seconds. The boat crossed the atlantic averaging 18.6 kts.

MACIF Crew at press conference (Photo © George Bekris)

The race pitted the Queen Mary 2 against four Ultime trimarans skippered by some of the greatest names in Ocean Racing. François Gabart – MACIF, Francis Joyon – IDEC SPORT, Thomas Coville – Sodebo Ultime and Yves Le Blévec – ACTUAL.

François Gabart © George Bekris

They left Saint-Nazaire on June 25th UTC for the 3068.4 nm transat. The trimaran skippers faced headwinds during much of their race as a result they raced a longer race in terms of actual miles than the Queen Mary 2. They also had some areas of very calm winds reducing their boat speed.

  • © George Bekris

The QM2 could follow a more or less straight line to the finish minus the exclusion zones for ice formations and Cetaceans. The Queen Mary 2 did stray into the ice exclusion zone for a short time before correcting causing them a penalty.

  • © Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co.

IDEC SPORT, skippered by Francis Joyon placed 2nd when they crossed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at 8 days 11 hours 9 minutes 3seconds. The crew covered this transat with an average of 17.2 kts of speed. We spoke to Francis Joyon following his arrival in New York and he said he plans to head back across the atlantic solo on Friday July 7th on IDEC SPORT. He stated this will be the first time he has a chance to sail IDEC SPORT solo and he wants to take this opportunity to get to know his boat without crew. 17.2 kts average speed.

  • © George Bekris

Sodebo Ultime crossed 3rd despite having an injured crewman on Tuesday, July 4 at 05:18:55 EST. Just 50 miles behind IDEC SPORT. They completed the race in 8 days,16 hours,18 minutes, 55 seconds with a 17.04 kts average speed.

Thomas Coville, the current round the world solo record holder, was in good spirits after arrival and was happy with the time they made coming in as they passed the Statue of Liberty right after dawn. They were able to complete the race without evacuating the injured Thierry Briend until they passed the finish. He was then transferred to a RIB and taken for medical attention as a precaution.

© Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co. NEW YORK CITY – USA , 4 Juillet 2017

Coville commented on dealing with his injured friend and crewmate after arriving at the Atlantic Boat Basin ““We were all very worried when Thierry had his problem,” Colville said. “I’m not going to discuss the whole race through this, but it really did affect us. He was knocked flat on his back and then the other way, face first onto a winch. He was incoherent for a few hours and couldn’t remember what had happened. The doctor said evacuating him from the boat wasn’t the right thing to do because it was best to keep him out of the elements. You need to have a very professional crew running the boat, so that when you have an injury, like Thierry had, you can manage it properly. We managed to race the boat to the finish and the situation with Thierry at the same time.”

  • © George Bekris

ACTUAL finish off the race and concluded the race when they arrived in New York on July 5th, at 10.28 pm and 58 seconds. They arrived in the night with spotlights highlighting the crew and boat against the Statue of Liberty as they passed.

  • © Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co.

The event concluded for the Ultime Trimarans with the award ceremony at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan on July 6, 2017.

  • © Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co.

Although the rest of the MACIF was on hand for the ceremony and to accept the award. François Gabart had to appear via live video because he had to return to France where his wife is expecting a baby at any time.

New York Yacht Club awards presentation. (Photo © Thierry Martinez / Sea&Co.)

The event concluded for the Ultime Trimarans with the award ceremony at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan on July 6, 2017.

THE BRIDGE 2017 (Photo © George Bekris)

Crew of IDEC SPORT
Francis Joyon
Alex Pella (ESP)
Sébastien Audigane
Gwénola Gahinet
Clément Surtel
Quentin Ponroy

Crew of ACUTAL
Yves Le Blévec
Samantha Davies
Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant
Davy Beaudart
Stanislas Thuret

Crew of Sodebo Ultime
Thomas Coville
Jean-Luc Nélias
Vincent Riou
Billy Besson
Loïc Le Mignon
Thierry Briend

Crew of MACIF
François Gabart
Pascal Bidégorry
Guillaume Combescure
Antoine Gautier
Benoît Marie
Yann Riou

Damien Grimont, Organiser of THE BRIDGE, is raised overhead by the MACIF Crew after they docked at The Atlantic Basin (Photo © George Bekris)

 

Visit George Bekris Photography for more photos of THE BRIDGE 2017 Maxi Trimarans and Crews 

Visit THE BRIDGE 2017 for more Information and Statistics about the Maxi Trimarans Race

Start of the Centennial Transat THE BRIDGE (Photo © Thierry Martinez / THE BRIDGE )

The Queen Mary 2 left France on July 25th UTC amid great fanfare and crowds who gathered to watch the spectacle of this first of it’s kind race. This event is celebrating a century of friendship and unity between France and America. The event commemorated the centennial of the United States entering World War I to fight with the allies and end the conflict. On June 26, 1917 the first Americans landed in Saint-Nazaire, France. Along with those Americans came jazz music and basketball. Therefore it was appropriate that these were incorporated in THE BRIDGE 2017 when the events were organized.

The Bridge 2017 – Nantes (Photo © Benoît Stichelbaut / The Bridge)

The race pitted the Queen Mary 2 against four Ultime Trimarans skippered by some of the greatest names in Ocean Racing. Francis Joyon – IDEC SPORT, Thomas Coville – Sodebo Ultime, François Gabart – MACIF, and Yves Le Blévec – ACTUAL.

The Queen Mary beat out the competitors finishing in July 1st. She made the crossing in 5 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes. Her average speed for the crossing was 22.7 kts.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

The Queen Mary 2 ended her race to New York as she crossed the finish at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at 5:00 am local time.  After crossing she passed the Statue of Liberty and did a circle in front of it as New York Fireboat saluted her with a spray in the morning light.

 

QM2 passes the Statue of Liberty with Fireboat salute (Photo © George Bekris)

Statue of Liberty and Fireboat (Photo © George Bekris)

 

The Queen Mary 2 has its thirteen passenger decks, the Queen Mary 2 is the largest, longest, tallest, widest, and most expensive passenger ship of all time. The 1,132 foot ship has a top speed of 29 knots and is so stable it a bit like being in a luxury hotel on the water. Her sweeping 2nd deck covered in wood runs the entire length of the ship with an uninterrupted view that runs from bow to stern. She is reminiscent of the golden age of cruising the oceans when the getting there was an event in itself. There are beautiful and elegant restaurants. Before the modern neon, water slide laden, running track and glitz liners so common in ports all over the world. This ship brings back the elegant grandeur of a time of elegance in travel. There is a feeling of going back in time as you step aboard and take in the grand lobby and halls lined with relief sculptures. She recently underwent a total refit so everything is sparkling and fresh onboard.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

There are many cabins to choose  from including the opulent duplex Buckingham Suite at the stern the spanned deck 9 and 10 with a private viewing deck on the stern.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

During her crossing the passengers were treated to the well known jazz singers and musicians. Archie Shepp performed with his saxophone.  Also performing during the festival ain onboard was Natalie Dessay. The festival of Jazz began with concerts Nantes, Saint-Nazaire, continued on the ocean, and will conclude with a concert in New York City at the Central Park SummerStage Festival on July 1, 2017. Bringing the events full circle from it’s origins in the United States to France and a century later back New York City.

 

New York City Skyline from the deck of the Queen Mary 2 (Photo © George Bekris)

There were other aspects to THE BRIDGE as well. Personal bridges and bonds made. Anna Boissier, a passenger on the ship, decided to take part in the cruise after finding out the link between herself and France in her own family history.

She was a American from Pennsylvania who married a Frenchman and moved to France twenty one years ago. She began investigating her own roots and found seven generations ago on her father’s side of the family a man named Lorenz Sandmanm, who came from the Baden region in Germany was in her family tree. He sailed on a ship to America 1752.   The name Sandmann through time became Sentman.  One of the Sentmans was Eli who  joined the CO B303 Bn Tank Corps on May 3, 1918 during World War I. He trained and travelled across the atlantic with the American forces to a tank base in England. Eli was then sent to Neuvy-Pailloux, France later that year. He was stationed in France during the winter of 1919 before leaving the army and returning to america that spring.

After the war he started an automobile dealership in Philadelphia where Boissier’s grandfather worked as well. Their family continues to live in Pennsylvania with the exception of Bossier who has been in France for 21 years. This trip is especially exciting for her as she is set to meet her cousin Eli Sentman V in New York before the ship sails back to France.  This trip was a bridge for Anna and her family as well. She will have a new connection in America that she would never had if she hadn’t began building bridges of her own. Now Anna will have family memories for her and her husband to take back to France.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

THE BRIDGE 2017 was not only a race. On the ship were business representatives in the 100 CLUB who chartered the ship to participate in the race against the Ultime trimarans in the transatlantic race. The 100 CLUB was established with the launch of the race in September of 2016 by Tony Parker, a sponsor of the bridge. There were 150 companies represented on board the QM2 to take place in 8 days of conferences and exchange of ideas mixed in with time to unwind in the middle of the Atlantic and let their creative minds collaborate on new ways to work together. This time allowed them uninterrupted opportunities to make contacts for the future in the ever changing world of business in the 21st century and it’s abundance of new business opportunities. It was a mix of small, medium and large companies all looking toward the future and how to best adjust and adapt going forward in a changing world. Allowing them to form bonds and alliances with each other that will last well past this transatlantic crossing. It just happened to take place on board one of the most majestic ships today on one the world’s greatest oceans, far from land and daily distractions.

 

  • © George Bekris

 

The FIBA 3×3 World Cup 2017 Basketball portion of THE BRIDGE was ongoing in France with 40 teams from 36 countries competing at the Parc des Chantires. The winners were Serbia in 1st place, Netherlands in 2nd and France took 3rd.

“I’ve always looked at sailing as a way of building bridges,” Damien Grimont, the founder and organizer, said. “Here, we brought the worlds of jazz, basketball, and business together to remember this 100 years and this race has been an amazing bridge between all of them. “The Queen Mary 2 was the biggest thing because it was so important to the lives of so many people, particularly in Saint-Nazaire (where she was built). There are such emotional ties and such energy from that boat; 100,000 people worked on it and four million hours of human labor went into its construction.”

This was the first edition of THE BRIDGE. It’s the hope of many that this becomes a tradition of bringing together the brightest minds in business with the top racers in the sailing circuit for an event that will grow with each edition.

 

Queen Mary 2 Passes the Staten Island Ferry after completing The Bridge Centennial Transat (Photo © George Bekris)

The 150 companies participating in the 100 club were as follows:
4 MOD – 727 SAILBAGS – AAERON FRANCE – ACT.ALARM – ACTUAL – ADENINE – ADRIEN STRATÉGIE AID – AIR FRANCE – ALAIN CHARTIER – AMP – APRIL MOTO – ARIES ALLIANCE – ARMETON – ATELIER DES TENDANCES – ATLANTIQUE EXPANSION ERB – ATLOC – ATOL – AVOLENS – AXO- BERJAC -BIG SUCCESS – C3P – CDII – CABINET MOITIER ET CARRIÈRE – CANAPÉS DUVIVIER – CAPACITÉS CAPVISIO – CAZENOVE ARCHITECTURE – CELENCIA – CFLC GROUPE (CRLC – ATLANTIC SOL) – CHÂTEAU DES TOURELLES – CIC – CLEAR CHANNEL – CLUB APM MAYENNE – CM-CIC INVESTISSEMENT -C.M.R – COLBERT ASSURANCE – COLBERT PATRIMOINE ET FINANCE – CORNET VINCENT SEGUREL AVOCATS – CREATIC EMBALL SERVICES – DANTES YACHTS – DELOITTE – DOCUWORLD GROUP – DOLMEN -DURET IMMOBILIER – ENVOLIIS – EUROPCAR – EXCELIUM – EY – FICAMEX – FINANCIÈRE CONSEIL -GALÉO – GELENCSER – GÉNICADO – GESTAL – GIL TURPEAU ENTREPRISES – GOSSELIN DESIGN & DIGITAL – GROUPE COUPECHOUX – GROUPE DUBREUIL – GROUPE GRUAU – GROUPE IDYL’AUTO – GROUPE LE DUFF -GROUPE LEGENDRE – GROUPE LUCAS – GROUPE MOUSSET – GROUPE RIDEAU – GUESNEAU SERVICES -GYMGLISH – HARMONIE MUTUELLE – HERIGE – HISI – HLP AUDIT – HOFIA – IDÉA – IJINUS – INTERACTION INTERIM – INTUITI – KPMG – LA MAISON HEBEL – LAUDESCHER INDUSTRIE – LAUDREN ATLANTIQUE – LE CONSERVATEUR – LEROY MERLIN – LINER COMMUNICATION – LOCARMOR LOGISTIC SOLUTIONS – LUCAS G – MAINDRON – MANHATTAN ASSOCIATES – MCDONALD’S OLONNE-SUR-MER – MÉTIER INTERIM & CD – MITIS – MNM CONSULTING – MSTREAM – MULTIPLAST – NANTES SAINT-NAZAIRE DÉVELOPPEMENT – NAP – NEOVIVO – NOUVEL OUEST – OCF – ORATIO – OUEST COUVERTURE ÉNERGIE – OUEST-FRANCE – PAEONIA – PATRICK GELENSCER -PLAST’IC ENTREPRISES – PRÉFA TECHNICOF – PROTECT’HOMS – QUADRA CONSULTANTS – REALITES – RÉAUTÉ CHOCOLAT – REGARD 9 – RH-INC – SÉCHÉ ENVIRONNEMENT – SEGASEL – SÉMÉNIA – SFCMM -SIMAB – SIPAC ASSURANCES – SAS RABAS – SODEBO – SOFAGEM – STREGO – SUPER U VERTOU -SYD CONSEILS – TEAM PLASTIQUE – TEGRALIS – TIBCO – TGS AUDIT – TGS AVOCATS – THÉÂTRE 100 NOMS -THE LINKS – TRANSPORTS VÉZO – TRANSVERSALES – TRI OUEST – VALPG PÔLE GRAPHIQUE EPA -VD COM – VERTAL – VYP

Queen Mary 2 Grand Lobby (Photo © George Bekris)

For more information and facts about the race visit THE BRIDGE 2017

Visit George Bekris Photography for more photos of THE BRIDGE 2017 and the QUEEN MARY 2 in New York

 

 

 

Photo © Thierry Martinez / THE BRIDGE

 

The Centennial Transat – The Bridge – from Saint-Nazaire to New York started in uniquely spectacular fashion at 19:00 today, one hundred years after American troops arrived on the coast of France. 

This time the cannon shots were sounds of fraternity to begin the race between the Queen Mary 2 and four of the largest and fastest trimarans in the world. The start to ocean races are always emotive affairs but rarely are they so loaded.

On Saturday, many thousands lined the harbor and shore to welcome the Queen Mary 2 into the Brittany harbor where she was built. This Loire estuary was alive again as the only remaining ocean liner in the world weighed anchor and the four trimarans, equally impressive in their class, set sail in light airs under a cloudless sky.

The trimarans were unsurprisingly faster off the mark, but the Queen Mary 2 (1,132 feet/345m) is a very big favourite to the win 3,152-mile (5,837 km) transat and her arrival under the Verrazano Bridge in New York is expected at 08:00 on Saturday, July 1. The crewed “Ultime” class trimarans – Macif (François Gabart), Idec Sport (Francis Joyon), Sodebo Ultim’ (Thomas Coville) and Team Actual, (Yves Le Blévec) – which are all over 25 meters long, are expected to finish between one and two days later. As forecast, because the race is against the prevailing winds, the trimarans will be working their way upwind to the north, while the QM2 can power direct to New York.

“Initially, the wind will be very soft in the Saint-Nazaire channel. The small windshift from north-west with winds of less than 10 knots expected in the evening won’t allow for much flying,” Dominic Vittet, the race meteorologist said. “As soon as the trimarans have left the Grand Carpentier lighthouse (in Saint-Nazaire) to starboard, they will already have to make a crucial choice about how they round the anticyclonic ridge that has the Bay of Biscay under lockdown and is forming a wall that will be difficult to cross in the first 24 hours.”

The fleet includes the cream of French sailing – who continue to dominate this class and offshore sailing in general – both on the trimarans and on the QM2, where Jean Le Cam, Alain Gautier and Bruno Peyron, gave the official start from the bridge. There is only one Briton among the 22 sailors across the four boats, Samantha Davies, who is also the only woman. The 34-year-old Gabart and crew start as favourites to set a new reference time between these two cities. The 30-metre long Macif, launched in 2015, is the newest boat of the four and Gabart has already proved its pace by winning the TheTransat bakerly in 2016. But the older hands, Joyon and Coville, have so many oceanic records between them that they can never be discounted.

For more information, photos and videos:
www.thebridge2017.com

The Bridge is a transatlantic celebration of friendship and solidarity between France and the United States, marking one hundred years since the arrival of American soldiers on French shores in 1917 to join the Allies in World War I. It includes:

– the 4th FIBA 3X3 World Cup in Nantes (17-21 June)
– the return of the Queen Mary 2 to where it was constructed in Saint-Nazaire, escorted by an international armada (June 24)
– the Centennial Transat to New York (June 25-July 3)
– an original tribute across the ocean to a century of American music (June 23-July 1)

Kicks off a month from the start of the festivities

From left to right: Francis Joyon, Francois Gabart, Yves Le Blévec, Thomas Coville. Photo credit: Thierry Martinez

From left to right: Francis Joyon, Francois Gabart, Yves Le Blévec, Thomas Coville. Photo credit: Thierry Martinez

 

This Thursday, the press conference to launch THE BRIDGE, a composite event commemorating the centenary of the first landing of American soldiers, was held in Paris in June 1917. It was

labeled by the Mission of the Centenary of the First World War , THE BRIDGE celebrates 100 years of France-USA friendship through festivities and animations imagined in the mirror of this common past. Designed as a bridge between audiences, the event, sponsored by Tony Parker , combines basketball, music and ocean sailing around this major event in Nantes, Saint-Nazaire and New York. In the presence of Joseph Zimet, Director General of the First World War Centenary Mission, THE BRIDGE, unveiled his program.

On June 24th, THE BRIDGE will see the return of the Queen Mary 2, escorted by a multinational Armada, to Saint-Nazaire, its construction port, which in 1917 was the US transit base European soil. The next day (June 25, at 7 pm), the steel giant will embark on the Centennial Transat and its unprecedented 3,152-mile (5,837 km) course towards New York in the face of four Ultimate Trimarans led by ( Thomas Coville, François Gabart, Francis Joyon and Yves Le Blévec ). A historic Atlantic match with high symbolic value in the direction of New York, in the footsteps of those first “Sammies” who came to defend Liberty alongside the Allies.

THE BRIDGE course

 

THE GREAT DATES OF THE BRIDGE 2017

In Nantes :

– Friday 16th June: Arrival of the trimarans

– Saturday 17th> Wednesday 21st June: 4thFIBA World Cup 3×3

– Thursday 22nd June: Descent from the Loire between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire

In Saint-Nazaire:
– Thursday, June 22: Arrival of trimarans – Village Opening events

– Saturday, June 24: Arrival of the Queen Mary 2 escorted by an international armada //
Great evening Centennial: concert, lights and sound public

– Sunday, June 25: Start of the Centennial Transat

At New York :
– Saturday 1 st July: Arrival of the Queen Mary 2 // THE BRIDGE concert at the Summerstage Festival in Central Park

– Between Sunday 2 and Monday 3 July: Estimated arrival of the first trimarans

 

 

the-bridge
On Friday, 2nd December, the press conference for the official launch of THE BRIDGE was held in the prestigious setting of the Salle Turenne at the Hôtel des Invalides. THE BRIDGE, a unique, festive, maritime, cultural and popular event, will take place from June 15th until the beginning of July 2017, in Nantes, Saint-Nazaire and New York. Supported by the Centennial Mission 14-18, THE BRIDGE pays tribute to the arrival on the French coasts of the first US troops to defend Liberty alongside the Allies and to put an end to the First World War. THE BRIDGE places this historical event, which has nourished a hundred years of Franco-American friendship, at the centre of its festivities.

François Gabart (MACIF), Damien Grimont (THE BRIDGE organiser) and et Yves Le Blevec (ACTUAL) © Th.Martinez

The Centennial Transat, an unprecedented and historic race
“1917, the Americans came ashore… 2017, THE BRIDGE brings us on board”.

Based on this idea, THE BRIDGE has invited the Queen Mary 2 to take part in an ocean challenge in a race against a fleet of giant trimarans following the route of the first landing of 1917. This will be an unprecedented maritime contest between the famous steel giant specially chartered for the occasion and the fabulous racing multihulls skippered by top offshore racers and their crews, THE BRIDGE will be the theatre of the Centennial Transat, a thrilling race between the bridge of Saint-Nazaire and the Verrazano Bridge in New York. Don’t miss it!

Departure on June 25th, 2017 under the bridge of Saint-Nazaire

It is highly symbolic,” said François Gabart, one of the first four contenders of the Queen Mary 2, about his favourite challenge: a Northern Atlantic crossing from East to West. Departing on June 25th, 2017 and heading to New York where the prestigious liner, which will be cruising at 25 knots over the 3,150 miles (5,800 km) of the direct route, is expected to arrive in the early hours of the morning of July 1st, to be saluted according to tradition, by the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

Download the official poster of THE BRIDGE

Basketball and jazz on centre stage
Conceived and envisioned as a bridge of friendship, THE BRIDGE also gives pride of place to jazz and to basketball. These two symbols of American culture will be at the heart of the three weeks of festivities on the programme celebrating a hundred years of friendship between France and the United States. Tony Parker, who epitomises the exchanges and bonds that have been strengthened over the past century by two countries separated by an ocean but united by loyal ties, sponsors this France-USA event.

France and the United States together: this project speaks to me. It is also a little nod to history to say thank you for everything that happened before. It makes sense for me to join THE BRIDGE; it stirs something in me. It is a big project and is growing bigger, and I am looking forward to seeing the event”, says Tony Parker.

Nantes to host the 4th 3×3 Basketball World Cup

In Nantes, the hub of basketball, THE BRIDGE has organised three weeks of symbolic events. In partnership with the FFBB (French Basketball Federation) and Nantes Métropole, the event will host the 4th 3X3 Basketball World Cup from 17th to 21st June 2017. A great first in France on the iconic site of the Park des Chantiers of the island of Nantes for this discipline, born on the streets and taking off all around the world. 20 women’s teams and 20 men’s teams from thirty countries will share the infectious spirit of 3X3 basketball, which pits two teams of three players against each other. It is a fine way to echo the spirit of freedom and fraternity intrinsic to basketball, a century after the first demonstrations of the art of dribbling on European soil.

The grand return of the Queen Mary 2 to Saint-Nazaire…
After Nantes, THE BRIDGE will continue in Saint-Nazaire with the return of the Queen Mary 2 to its port of construction. This will be an important event in itself for the City of Liners, whose history, culture, and economy are intimately linked to the sea and its industries. This exceptional charter, the fruit of efforts by THE BRIDGE Association to bring together a large family of public and private partners, was also made possible thanks to the mobilisation of the companies in the region. Driven by a strong entrepreneurial vision, the event expects 2,640 passengers, individuals and financial decision-makers to embark on the famous liner to follow the Centennial Transat live from front row seats. A historic adventure!

… Under multinational escort

The Queen Mary 2 is expected on Saturday June 24th in Saint-Nazaire, escorted by the Centennial Armada, an exceptional fleet bringing together ships from twelve countries out of the fifty involved in the First World War. On the following day, Sunday 25th June, the 345-metre-long steamer and the maxi-trimarans will set sail to the estuary of the Loire and the starting area of the Centennial Transat.

IDEC SPORT, a new contestant for the Queen Mary 2
Four talented and experienced offshore racing skippers have already responded to the call of THE BRIDGE and will be there with five crew on the start line. François Gabart (MACIF), Yves Le Blévec (ACTUAL) and Thomas Coville (Sodebo) of the group Ultim are amongst the first candidates for this unusual historic race. Most recently joining them is Francis Joyon (IDEC SPORT) and his crew, the latest entry for this maritime challenge, currently competing on the Jules Verne Trophy alongside the most serious contenders of the Queen Mary 2. Together with a further crew of five, these great offshore sailors will have to race at the top of they abilities across the 3,150 mile course (5,800 km approximately) against a cruise ship who will cross the ocean at full steam regardless of the weather conditions.

@ JM Liot / DPPI / IDEC SPORT

They said during the press conference:


Francis Joyon (IDEC SPORT):The IDEC SPORT trimaran, because of the absolute use of wind and ocean to move, represents the ideal link and symbolises the friendship between France and the United States . With the IDEC SPORT team, we are proud to participate in this premiere of THE BRIDGE.

Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim’):Being a pioneer is the DNA of the Ultim’ collective which brings together the owners of the biggest multihulls. Today, with THE BRIDGE, we have a meeting with history, with this new race, with this new concept and with the Queen Mary 2 … “

Yves Le Blévec (ACTUAL):“A start in Saint-Nazaire, a finish in New York, it is a mythical journey that takes us back to the era of passenger ships and steamships. The race format, which brings together for the first time all Ultim’, suits perfectly. “

François Gabart (MACIF):“It really resonates. One hundred years after the landing of the Americans in Europe, THE BRIDGE gives us the chance to do the return trip, to go to the United States to create the link to sailing and beyond. What is interesting about it is that there is a slightly different way of approaching the race, potentially bringing the media and the public closer to our boats and enabling us to run the race from the inside and give those privileged cruise passengers an amazing opportunity to experience it first hand.”

The main dates of THE BRIDGE:

Nantes:
Thursday 15th June: Arrival of the multihulls
Friday 17th – Wednesday 21st June: 4th FIBA 3X3 World Cup
Tuesday 21st June: Music Festival
Thursday 22nd June: Descent from the Loire between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire

Saint Nazaire:
Thursday 22nd June: Arrival of the maxi-trimarans in the Port of Saint-Nazaire – Opening of the event village
Friday 23rd June: Arrival of the military ships coming from the Atlantic coast
Saturday 24th June: Event village – Arrival of the Queen Mary 2 and entry in the Louis Joubert Lock (port of Saint-Nazaire)
Concert, sound and light show for the general public
Sunday 25th June: Start of THE BRIDGE 2017

New York:
1st July: Arrival of QM2
Between 2nd and 4th July: Estimated arrivals of the first boats

The Queen Mary 2 will also host independent travellers.
During the Nautic, THE BRIDGE organisers open up the sale of cabins on board the Queen Mary 2 giving those interest the option to follow the event all the way to New York.

Meet at THE BRIDGE area – HALL 1/J8.

The 100 Club: a unique entrepreneurial dynamic
Nearly 80 companies have signed up to the adventure. They have reserved the first cabins on board the Queen Mary 2 which has allowed for the charter of the prestigious steamship for the event. The business impetus has been set up to engage and perpetuate an and workshops will analyse and look at how business is set to evolve.

“Visionary entrepreneurs of the Club of 100 are not sponsors. They are also the actors of THE BRIDGE and embark as skippers on the Queen Mary 2, “explains Damien Grimont, creator and organiser of THE BRIDGE.

TV FOOTAGE OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AVAILABLE HERE

Shot list
00:00-1:35 Images of the press conference
01:36 – 02:56 Interview with François Gabart, skipper MACIF Ultim’ (French)
02:57 – 03:52 Interview with Yves Le Blévec, skipper ACTUAL (French)
03:53 – 5:10 Interview with Damien Grimont, THE BRIDGE organiser

#TheBridge2017  #IDECSport #FrancisJoyon #Sodebo #MACIF #ACTUAL #FrancoisGabart #ThomasCoville #trimaran #multihull #YvesLeBlevec #NYC  #QueenMary2 #VerrazanoBridge #Verrazano #NewYork

The Transat bakery. Prologue. St Malo. France Pictures of Loïck Peyron (FRA) onboard the classic yacht Pen Duick II on which he will complete the solo transatlantic race Image licensed to Lloyd Images/ OC Sports

The Transat bakery. Prologue. St Malo. France.  Loïck Peyron (FRA) onboard the classic yacht Pen Duick II.   Image licensed to Lloyd Images/ OC Sports

Today Loïck Peyron, skipper of Pen Duick II, informed The Transat bakerly Race Management that his nostalgic voyage from Plymouth to New York had come to an end following damage to his staysail which has torn off the bridge of his boat.

Peyron reported: “Hello. Staysail plate torn off the bridge, but no problem. Unfortunately I can not continue into the wind, so for the moment I am proceeding on Quiberon Envsn. Loïck.”

Strong winds and crashing waves have played havoc with The Transat bakerly racing fleet over recent days, and Peyron’s recently restored vintage wooden ketch is the latest boat to feel the wrath of the North Atlantic.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK  - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

Sailing over 3050nm ‘the old way’ as a tribute to the achievements of double Transat winner Eric Tabarly and sailing legend Mike Birch, triple Transat winner Peyron will now divert to Quiberon l’Ecole Nationale de Voile (ENVSN) in France midway through his voyage, no longer able to sail his boat into the wind.

This downwind delivery back to Quiberon ENVSN, where Pen Duick II has been owned and used as part of the sailing school for nearly 50 years, should take the skipper around 10 days to complete.

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the 'Transat Bakerley' solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the ‘Transat Bakerley’ solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

Francois Gabart, the young heart-throb of French solo offshore sailing, completed his first solo win on board his new 100ft trimaran, Macif, today when he crossed the finish line off New York.

The 33-year-old Frenchman, who in 2013 became the youngest ever winner of the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race, sailed a brilliant race from Plymouth, covering the official distance of 3,050 nautical miles in 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds. He narrowly missed out on a new race record, which was set by Michel Desjoyeaux in 2004, and still stands at a time of 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes.

Gabart actually sailed a total distance of 4,634 miles at an average speed of 23.11 knots in a remarkable voyage that, unusually for The Transat bakerly, took him and his close rival Thomas Coville on Sodebo, hundreds of miles south of the Azores into the tradewinds before sling-shotting northwest up to New York.

His beautiful blue, white and yellow Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prevost-designed multihull, in which Gabart hopes to set a new outright solo round-the-world record, reached the finish at 18:24 local time in New York, as recorded by the Sandy Hook Pilot Association boat, with its jubilant skipper waving to his team support boat as he crossed the line.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the 'Transat Bakerley' solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the ‘Transat Bakerley’ solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

Shortly afterwards Gabart reflected on a race that, for much of the time, saw him in close company with Coville on the older Sodebo. For the first three days the two skippers were never more than a few miles apart, having crossed the Bay of Biscay in sight of each other.

The competition with Thomas on Sodebo was wonderful. It made the race incredible for me.  We are working together to organise more races for these type of boats, and when we see what happened in The Transat bakerly, and how close the competition was, we know there is a place for it. This is just the beginning of the journey.”

Gabart clearly loved his first outing on his new mile-munching ocean-racing thoroughbred, and he more than stepped up to the challenge that the 30-metre giant posed. “It was a big challenge for me. You should have 10 or 15 people to manage these boats, and it’s just me. It was my first solo race on Macif, and I didn’t know if I was able to do it, so I am really proud of what I did.

“To arrive into New York was perfect. The boat is in good shape. Me? Well, maybe not! I’m very tired, but I’m incredibly proud.”

As winner of the Ultime class, Gabart will be presented with a special watch from The Transat bakerly official timekeeper Ralf Tech.

Commenting on Gabart’s performance, The Transat bakerly Event Director Herve Favre said: “Francois and Thomas put on an amazing show at the front of the fleet and Francois has emerged a worthy and deserving winner. Over the next week we will see the winners of the IMOCA 60, Multi50 and Class40s emerge and each winner will be a hero in my book.”

The Big Apple has only been used once before in the race as the finish port and that was in the very first edition in 1960 when the winner, one Sir Francis Chichester on the monohull Gipsy Moth III, was at sea for 40 days, 12 hours 30 minutes. Sailing a multihull from a different century, Gabart was 32 days, 3 hours and 36 minutes quicker than the British legend.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the 'Transat Bakerley' solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the ‘Transat Bakerley’ solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

As Gabart crossed the line Coville was still some 118nm from the finish while the third-placed trimaran in the Ultime class – Actual skippered by Yves Le Blevec – was still 509.6nm away.

For the other classes in the fleet, the finish line is still over 800 miles away. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) continues to lead the IMOCA 60 fleet with an anticipated arrival time of 19:00 local time on Friday. Vincent Riou on PRB is 76 miles behind and still hot on his stern.

In the four-boat Multi50 class, Gilles Lamiré (Frenchtech Rennes St Malo) is continuing to extend his lead, with a 219 mile advantage between him and the chasing Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema).

Trading places at the top of the Class40 fleet is Isabelle Joschke (Generali–Horizon Mixité) and Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton–Arsep), with Joschke currently holding a six-mile advantage.

On Tuesday Armel Tripon on Black Pepper announced his retirement from The Transat bakerly, after he sustained damage in the week’s earlier storms, leaving eight Class40s now en route to the Big Apple.

Track the race here.

The class rankings at 20:00 BST – updated every four hours. 

ULTIME
1. Francois Gabart/Macif – Finished after 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds
2. Thomas Coville/Sodebo – 88.21nm from the finish
3. Yves Le Blevec/Actual – 504.50nm from the finish

IMOCA 60
1. Armel Le Cléac’h/Banque Populaire – 857.2nm from the finish
2. Vincent Riou/PRB – 76.10nm from the leader
3. Jean-Pierre Dick/St Michel Virbac – 182.74nm from the leader

MULTI50
1. Gilles Lamiré/French Tech Rennes St Malo – 950nm from the finish
2. Lalou Roucayrol/Arkema – 219.62nm from the leader
3. Pierre Antoine/Olmix – 415.94nm from the leader

CLASS40
1. Isabelle Joschke/Generali Horizon Mixité – 1421.3nm from the finish
2. Thibaut Vauchel-Camus/Solidaires en Peloton – ARSEP – 6.60nm from the leader
3. Phil Sharp/Imerys – 18.59nm from the leader

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the 'Transat Bakerley' solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the ‘Transat Bakerley’ solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

 

Francois Gabart (Macif) vainqueur de la categorie Imoca sur la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 en 12j 04h 38mn et 55 sec - Pointe a Pitre le 14/11/2014 (Photo © Alexis Courcoux)

Francois Gabart (Macif) vainqueur de la categorie Imoca sur la Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe 2014 en 12j 04h 38mn et 55 sec – Pointe a Pitre le 14/11/2014 (Photo © Alexis Courcoux)

When he crossed the finish line off Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe this Friday afternoon to win the IMOCA 60 Class in La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, François Gabart completed a vey rare back-to-back solo ocean double, adding the Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic to his 2012 victory in the Vendee Globe, the solo non stop around the world race.

Just as he won the legendary Vendee Globe at 29 at his first attempt, the youngest ever winning skipper, so today he also added the Route du Rhum title on his first time in the four- yearly solo race from Saint Malo to Guadeloupe.

Remarkably just four years ago he was in Guadeloupe to greet and help Michel Desjoyeaux. In the intervening period he launched his IMOCA 60 project, sailed only three solo races and won all three.

The only other solo sailor to have sailed to successive wins in the Vendee and the Rhum – the pinnacles of solo ocean racing – is Michel Desjoyeaux, who was Gabart’s original mentor and project manager.

Gabart’s twin peaks are distinct from his friend and teacher’s in that Desjoyeaux won the 2000 Vendee Globe in the IMOCA and then triumphed in the 2002 Route du Rhum outright sailing the ORMA trimaran Geant.

But Gabart becomes the first to win the two big IMOCA prizes back-to-back in the same boat. And today after breaking the 2006 course record of Roland Jourdain – setting a new mark at 12d 4h 38m 55s – he also owns both the Transatlantic record for this 3542 miles course and he course record for the solo global circumnavigation (78d 2h 16m 40s)

Having conquered the round the world and Transatlantic courses at the first time of asking this was his last race on the IMOCA 60 which has carried him to victories. He will step up to a new 100 foot trimaran which will be launched next year in the colours of Macif, who he has been with since 2011, and pursue ocean records and races, likely to include this Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

Although he was pushed hard through most of the race by Jeremie Beyou (Maitre Coq) – his training and sparring partner from the elite Pole Finisterre racing group based from Port-La-Foret in Brittany, Gabart proved to have a consistent edge in speed in the fitful trade winds conditions, despite the fact the two boats are near idenitical twin sisters from the VPLP/Verdier partnership.

Indeed the Macif-Maitre Coq vanguard of the IMOCA fleet this Route du Rhum in many ways mirrored that of the Vendee Globe when Gabart and Armel Le Cleac’h raced around the world as if attached by bungee elastic. Beyou’s boat Maitre Coq was formerly Le Cleac’h’s Banque Populaire. Gabart was 90 miles ahead of Beyou before the final passage round most of the island, by the finish that had been compressed closer to 45 miles.

Gabart’s Route du Rhum was carefully modulated. He proved on the Vendee Globe that he is an innately fast, confident and hard driving skipper, belying his tender years in the class. This time he lead since Cape Frehel just after start line on Sunday November 2nd and was never passed.

Gabart’s Race
After less than 24 hours racing he was already 3 miles ahead and in control of a pack comprising Beyou and 2004-5 Vendee Globe winner Vincent Riou and Marc Guillemot. Riou was a closer contender before he had to retire with structural damage to his mainsheet track while a combination of small problems hobbled the challenge of Guillemot (Safran) who finished third in 2010. South of the Azores, Beyou cut the corner back to the north-west and closed the gap to less than 20 miles, but Gabart was able to extend on the SW side of the Azores high when he manouvred into bettter breeze and progressively opened out on each position report.

There is an element of catharsis too for Gabart, who one year ago lost the top of Macif’s mast when leading the two handed Transat Jacques Vabre with Michel Desjoyeaux.

Aside from being here in Guadeloupe in 2010 to meet Desjoyeaux, the last time Gabart was on the island was as a seven year old around the same time as Florence Arthaud became the first woman to win the race.

François Gabart originally studied and become an engineer at a top school in Lyon, but his heart was always in sailing. At the age of 7, he sailed away for a year with his family stopping in the Canaries, Cape Verdes, French West Indies, the States… a part of his childhood which clearly left its mark. From a racing background in small dinghies he moved to and Olympic campaign in the Tornado class.

In just two years in the Figaro circuit, he was top rookie in 2008, came third in the Cap Istanbul, and third in the BPE Transatlantic race 2009. In Oct 2009, he was chosen as Skipper Macif winning a national talent selection. Second behind Le Cléac’h in the 2010 Solitaire, he won the Cap Istanbul and became French offshore racing champion.

Gabart’s star remains very much on the ascendancy, a very rare talent in ocean racing.

First words:
“This is huge. It is the Route du Rhum, it is not just nothing. I pushed myself like never before to win this. Now I am happy with the result and how I got there. The project was launched just four years ago. I raced round the world and won and now this. I could not do better with this boat. We have done only three races together and won all of them (ed’s note: 2011 BtoB Brasil to Brittany, Vendee Globe, Route du Rhum). But this is the end of our life together, we have done some beautiful things. I wanted to live this Route du Rhum with the same emotions, the same feelings and the Vendee Globe.

I really enjoyed myself. It is a beautiful thing racing alone. I am still learning.

As for the record? Well times change and technology changes and I don’t think it is interesting to compare the times.

But I have to say that if someone had told me when I was here four years ago that I would have done this, I would not have believed it. It is not because you think it is easy that it becomes so, but because it is not, on the contrary it is hard.

I set myself a very high level. And it is about the personal challenge of that. I set the bar high and so I was sad when Vincent dropped out. I should have been happy, but I was disappointed. We would have had a good fight and pushed each other. I did not think for ten seconds that Jeremie was just behind me. I just built the margin over three days. I have a great sensation, a great feel for the boat and spent a lot of time at the helm. I could feel when it is good, when the stack was right, when the sail combination was perfect, when there was weed on a rudder.

I lost my big spinnaker at the Azores just after the passage of the front. So I had not choice than to be faster that Jeremie. This last bit I did savour the feelings. And now it is sad to leave this boat. But in four years I will be back here in a Multi.”