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



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.


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:

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.


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


Photo: Thierry Martinez

Posted on December 10, 2015

Setting sail from the ‘Big Apple’, bound for what was the cradle of the IMOCA Class, the port of Les Sables d’Olonne, one could hardly ask for more in terms of symbolism. On the one hand, New York, a cosmopolitan crossroads of influences, is a perfect illustration of the international aspirations of both IMOCA and Open Sports Management. On the other, France’s Vendée region, represents the heart of the IMOCA class, thanks to its legendary solo round the world race, in which some of the most extraordinary episodes on the high seas have occurred over the last twenty-five years. The final opportunity to qualify for the Vendée Globe in race configuration, the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) promises to be a significant event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship.


The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne), the penultimate race in the 2015-6 IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship, is set to gather together all the top teams and sailors in the IMOCA class, keen to do battle one last time before the round the world race. Forming a link between the New World and the Old, it reasserts IMOCA’s determination to carve out an increasingly international position for itself and the opportunity to appeal to a new audience.

A substantial programme of entertainment

With its Prologue setting off from Newport, Rhode Island, (historically famous for having been the finish port of the OSTAR) bound for New York; the race village in the heart of Manhattan at North Cove Marina; a charitable promotion on the Hudson River and a race starting from the foot of the Statue of Liberty, the programme for the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will provide an amazing spectacle during the week competitors will spend in the build-up to the start in New York.

Treating New Yorkers to an exceptional entertainment program, enabling them to enjoy a maritime spectacle in one of the major ports on America’s eastern seaboard, as well as leaving the skippers with some unforgettable memories, will be just some of the many wonders of the race. Who has not dreamed of racing a sailing yacht in the shadow of Manhattan’s skyscrapers or under Brooklyn Bridge?

Final solo trial run

Primarily though, the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will be the final major confrontation in singlehanded configuration before to the ultimate event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship 2015-2016. With a 4X coefficient, this singlehanded transatlantic race will be the last opportunity to gauge each skipper’s position in relation to the competition. Even in summery conditions along what is always a tricky course to negotiate, the skippers will have to know how to strike a balance between hunting down the depressions, which cross the Atlantic at higher latitudes versus the shortest and most direct route along the great circle.Either way the course is likely to skirt the Grand Banks of Newfoundland famous for its thick fog, before continuing to climb towards the northern latitudes where there is always the potential to encounter icebergs drifting south from the Arctic. For these reasons the race it will provide great preparation for the week competitors’ will spend in the Southern Ocean during the Vendée Globe.

Beyond the sports aspects of the race, the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will also be an opportunity to test the communication systems and the on-board video gear prior to the Vendée Globe. Added to that, when the solo skipper make landfall in Les Sables d’Olonne, they will be get an idea of the emotional welcome that the public will give them next November at the start of the round the world race, the summer sun being a welcome bonus.

The close collaboration between the organiser, the council of the Vendée region and the town of Les Sables d’Olonne demonstrates the strong bond formed between these parties during the creation of this leading event of the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship. Like the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York – Barcelona, which preceded the Barcelona World Race, the New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will be a fantastic prelude to the Vendée Globe.

– See more at:

©Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OSM.  ST MALO - FRANCE . 2 Novembre 2014 . Départ  10eme Route du Rhum.

©Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OSM. ST MALO – FRANCE . 2 Novembre 2014 . Départ 10eme Route du Rhum.

There are race nights like those of our dreams, when the wind is like music to your ears, the moon high in the sky, and the skippers have time to get into the race while savouring the moment of being alone at sea… And others which are more brutal. It was the second type that awaited the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe skippers last night. And the IMOCA Class also came under the challenging law of the sea.

With no premature drop outs nor collisions bad enough to stop short any hope of getting to Guadeloupe, the tough weather conditions in the English Channel did not prevent the IMOCA fleet from making the Bay of Biscay without too much damage. But the Bay of Biscay, true to its reputation lays down the law : An abandonment for Bertrand de Broc due to an injury (Votre Nom autour du Monde), rudder damage after a UFO collision for Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Coeur) suffered some damage to his rudder from a UFO collision forcing him to make a technical stop, more serious damage for Vincent Riou (PRB) after a major mainsail rip, and Jérémie Beyou (Maître Coq) had some trouble with his rudder fixings but seemed to be able to fix them. The IMOCA skippers had some good reasons to be wary of those first few hours in the Channel. But in comparison to the damage suffered by some of the other classes, the IMOCA Ocean Masters fleet demonstrated the full extent of its reliability. This is not the first time the Bay of Biscay hits hard on a fleet in such a transatlantic race.

©Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OSM.  ST MALO - FRANCE . 2 Novembre 2014 . Départ  10eme Route du Rhum.

©Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OSM. ST MALO – FRANCE . 2 Novembre 2014 . Départ 10eme Route du Rhum.

(Photo Thierry Martinez  )

The first night – what they said before they left:

Armel Tripon (For Humble Heroes): “The first night is a relief above all. All this week we’ve had a full-on programme, among the crowds, and we need to get away. Once we’re past the Cap Fréhel, it’ll be great to be alone.”

Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur): “The first night is a mix of everything. We’re happy to be out at sea alone, but sad to leave our dear ones and team. The first night is critical in general – you can’t mess up. It’s easy not to sleep, but it’s a trap because you can lose your lucidity. I love the first night, it gets you into the rhythm of the race, tactically it’s crucial, it’s full of all sorts of things.”

Vincent Riou (PRB): “We’ll be able to breathe a bit once we’ve left the crowd at the start. It’ll be quite stressful because we’ll be navigating through intense maritime traffic in the English Channel. We’ll be sailing close to the coast so we know we won’t sleep much. We won’t get a real rest until we get past Ouessant. After that it should be a bit less stressful.”

Alessandro di Benedetto (Team Plastique): “A bit stressed as always. We’re going to be on the lookout constantly, between the coast which is close by, the cargo boats, fishing boats… There’s a real risk of collision.”


©Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OSM.  ST MALO - FRANCE . 2 Novembre 2014 . Départ  10eme Route du Rhum.

©Th.Martinez/Sea&Co/OSM. ST MALO – FRANCE . 2 Novembre 2014 . Départ 10eme Route du Rhum.

(Photo Thierry Martinez)

Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde): “ You have to be on top form on the first night. We’ll be navigating tricky areas to the north of Brittany. It’ll be stressful with all the trawlers and cargo ships shifting from rail to sea. There are only 10 IMOCAs so the risk of collision between competitors is low. Overall I’ll be having more fun than stress.”

Marc Guillemot (Safran): “The first night on the Route du Rhum is always complicated. You have to manage the traffic, anticipate the Ouessant passage and there are rocks all over the place off the coast so you have to be very careful. And the first tactical options are taken leaving the English Channel. So we know we won’t be sleeping much.”

Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée): “ It’s going to be tense. The playing field between the cargo ships to the north and the coast to the south is very narrow, with some significant local effects out there. Once we’re out of the Channel we should have some great reaching angles. Then we’ll have some real fun. »

François Gabart (MACIF): “Fun and stress – the two are linked. It’s the start of the race and you really have to concentrate, to find your bearings. On top of that the Channel is always complicated. But I must admit I love these first nights. Navigating at night is something really magic.”

Jérémie Béyou (Maître CoQ): “I try to think of it as just another day of the race. The main thing is not to make any mistakes, to get into the race from the start. The sense of deliverance comes into play once you start to lose the other boats around. Looking at the conditions expected, we’ll have to wait till we’re out of the Channel.”

(Photo Thierry Martinez)

Race status
There’s no surprise as to who has taken the lead, with all the favourites in pole position with a superb battle playing out between François Gabart and Vincent Riou, before he suffered with some damage. Jérémie Beyou and Marc Guillemot were running about 20 miles behind them. Much has been expected from PRB’s performance against the competition, being the only boat to have passed to the new rule. This fight has stopped too soon….