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:

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.




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



Solidaire Du Chocolat Fleet At Start (Photo by Franck Socha / Sea&Co)

Solidaire Du Chocolat Fleet At Start (Photo by Franck Socha / Sea&Co)

Over the weekend, the more easterly boats in the northern group of the fleet tucked into the Trade Winds while the western pack have yet to taste the north-east breeze. Although the endless headwinds have ceased, the 12 days of slamming upwind left a legacy for Giovanni Soldini and Pietro d’Ali on Telecom Italia with the failure of the upper swivel on their forestay furler. Fortunately, as the headstay crashed to the deck, the inner forestay held the mast in place and in the 0800 GMT position poll this morning, the Italian duo are making just over eight knots, 52 miles behind the race leader.

South of Telecom Italia, the current race leader, Tanguy de Lamotte and Adrien Hardy on Initiatives-Novedia have crossed the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and at the same latitude as the southern tip of Florida the French duo are continuing south-west towards the mandatory race gate off the island of St. Barts making the best speed in the northern group of 12.5 knots in approximately 16 knots of south-easterly breeze. Behind the race leader by 92 miles, Bruno Jourdren and Bernard Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat in 3rd and Damien Seguin and Armel Tripon on 4th placed Cargill-MTTM have finally separated after sailing in close formation for the majority of the past week with Seguin and Tripon opting to drop south on Sunday afternoon and slipstream Initiatives-Novedia. Since this move south, Jourdren and Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat have built a 30 mile lead over their French rivals on Cargill-MTTM with both boats currently averaging 11 knots.

Separated by just over 100 miles and in the same ESE breeze of around 16 knots, the Anglo-Australian team of Tim Wright and Nicholas Brennan on Sail4Cancer hold 5th place with a 61 mile lead over Peter Harding and Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees with the Finnish duo of Jouni Romppanen and Sam Öhman on Tieto in 7th currently 44 miles off the starboard quarter of 40 Degrees while Harding and Merron average the best speed in the trio of 11.6 knots.

Solidaire Du Chocolat Fleet (Photo by Bruno Bouvry)

Solidaire Du Chocolat Fleet (Photo by Bruno Bouvry)

Flanking the main body of the fleet, Felipe Cubillos and Daniel Bravo Silva in 8th on Desafio Cabo de Hornos hold the northern station while Denis Lazat and Frédéric Nouel on PLAN in 10th maintain their southern position and are enjoying the Trade Winds, while the Chileans in the north must wait a little longer for the north-easterly breeze. In 9th place, 588 mile behind the lead boat, Jacques Fournier and Jean-Edouard Criquioche on Groupe Picoty have taken the northerly option and, like the Chilean duo, will have to wait for the Trades while Stephen Card and Shaun Murphy on ORBIS further south in 11th reported earlier that they have already entered the north-easterly breeze.

Meanwhile, furthest north in the fleet, Patrice Carpentier and Victor Maldonado on Crédit Maritime in 15th place are in the grips of the Azores High which has returned to its traditional location over the remote group of islands and Yves Eclaret and Lionel Regnier, the fleet’s back markers on Vale Inco Nouvelle Calédonie, may have just linked with the Trade Winds. The southern group in the fleet are currently converging on the northern pack with Erik Nigon and Marc Jouany on Axa Atout Coeur Pour Aides in 12th place 712 miles behind the lead boat and 113 miles now separate Nigon and Jouany, David Consorte and Aubry Arnaud in 13th on Adriatech and Mike West and Paul Worswick on Keysource in 14th place with the British duo continuing to poll the highest speed average in the fleet at 13 knots.


Desafio Cabo de Hornos

“We don’t know how much wind we have but I think it’s around 20 knots and we’re reaching at 90 degrees, so we’re going quite fast, it’s comfortable and everything is fine. I think we’re going to sail more together with the rest of the fleet although I think, more or less, we’ll keep our position. We’re in perfect condition, we’ve slept well and we’re sailing in a direction so the boat isn’t slamming all of the time.”



The Mayas were the first to cultivate the cocoa bean in the 17th century BC on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. The divine drink xocoatl made from cocoa was said to nourish man after death, and its life-giving and aphrodisiac properties were already well known. Beans were dried, ground, mixed with hot water and then flavoured with chilli, spices or vanilla.

Spaniard Hernan Cortés disembarked in Mexico in 1519, conquering the New World. He was received like a God. He discovered xocoatl.

When Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, he described the virtues of this new beverage to King Charles I of Spain: “One cup of this precious drink enables a man to walk for an entire day without eating.”

The first commercial cocoa cargos reached Spain in 1585 but it was not until the time of Anne of Austria, Queen of Louis XIII of France and daughter of the King of Spain, that the drink reached France. Courtesans in Versailles adored chocolate.

Tales chases Novedia (Photo by Bruno Bouvry)

Tales chases Novedia (Photo by Bruno Bouvry)

Solidaire du Chocolat