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)

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)

SAILING - THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT - START - PLYMOUTH (GBR) - 11/05/08 PHOTO : VINCENT CURUTCHET / DPPI / THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT / OC EVENTS START

SAILING – THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT – START – PLYMOUTH (GBR) – 11/05/08
PHOTO : VINCENT CURUTCHET / DPPI / THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT / OC EVENTS
START

In just under 100 days time, a growing fleet of first-class ocean racers and fearless adventurers will set sail on the world’s oldest solo transatlantic race from Plymouth to New York – The Transat.

This year’s race has attracted a star-studded line up of offshore greats, from the likes of Vendée Globe competitors Sébastien Josse and Armel Le Cléac’h in the IMOCA60, to Transat Jacques Vabre winner Erwan Le Roux and Route du Rhum winner Thomas Coville on the flying multihulls and seasoned offshore competitors Miranda Merron and Thibaut Vauchel in the Class40.

The Transat is a nostalgic race steeped in history, full of adventure and touched upon by tragedy. Established in 1960 by Sir Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler, Hasler’s legendary vision for the race is still as relevant today as it was then – The Transat is about “one man, one boat, one ocean.”

But while the principle behind the race remains the same, a new generation of ocean racing machines sees a classic reborn in 2016. Giant Ultimes, flying Multi50s, powerful IMOCA60s and hardy Class40s, helmed by some of the world’s finest solo sailors, could make for one of the fastest crossings yet.

“We are absolutely delighted by the turn out and the calibre of the skippers who are taking on the challenge of one of the greatest solo races in the sport,” said Hervé Favre, Offshore Events Director for OC Sport. “With the right conditions we could see records tumbling in all four classes.”

Paying homage to The Transat’s origins, the 14th edition will set sail from Plymouth – the first city to play host to the race. From Plymouth breakwater, the fleet will race 3,000 miles to Brooklyn in New York, where The Transat first finished 56 years ago.

Between the two cities, competitors will be alone faced with the towering waves of the Atlantic, blinding fog, ferocious winds and the danger of ice drifting down from the Arctic. The fleet will spend anywhere between eight and 18 days at sea, dependent on the boat. Racing upwind for the majority of the race, The Transat will be a hard slog for the skippers. Frequent rest, good nutrition and staying hydrated will be key to staving off fatigue and staying in the game.

The Atlantic is a dangerous playground and intelligent sailing will be the key to success in New York City, as Race Director Gilles Chiorri explained: “The Transat is the mother of all transatlantic races, it launched the trend for solo sailing. The Transat is the most challenging transatlantic to win. The race will be characterised by the low pressures and stormy conditions associated with heavy swell, sometimes within the vicinity of icebergs. The winner in each class (Ultime, IMOCA60, Multi 50, Class40) will step on the path of the previous winners, including Chichester, Tabarly, Colas, Poupon, Desjoyeaux, Joyon, and Loick Peyron, among others.”

With less than 100 days to the start of this epic, The Transat boasts an international fleet of almost 30 boats including three Ultimes, five Multi 50s, seven IMOCA 60s, 11 Class40s, two female skippers, two Brits, 21 French entries, one German and The Transat’s first Japanese entry.

You can read more into the colourful history of The Transat here and see the announced competitor line up below.

Entries for the 2016 Transat are open until 31st January. To enter, please click here.

Follow The Transat on Facebook, Twitter and find more on our website

 

The Transat 2016 will finish in New York (Photo© FreeImages.com/Dario Lucarini)

The Transat 2016 will finish in New York (Photo© FreeImages.com/Dario Lucarini)