The Bridge 2017 Centennial Transat - the transatlantic 'race' between the Queen Mary 2 and four of the world's greatest trimarans - has been won by Macif
François Gabart and his crew on Macif have claimed victory in The Bridge 2017 Centennial Transat.
The trimaran crossed the finish line under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York, yesterday (3 July) at 13:31:20 (local time).
The race started from under the Saint-Nazaire Bridge in France on 25 June.
Macif completed the transat in 8 days, 31 minutes and 20 seconds, sailing 3,582.13 nautical miles at an average speed of 18.61 knots.
The maxi trimaran finished 2 days, 7 hours and 46 minutes behind the Queen Mary 2, which covered a much more direct course of 3,100.59 nautical miles at an average speed of 22.67 knots.
But, the QM2 went through the ice exclusion zone.
Two days ago it looked like being a nail-biting finish, but Gabart came out of the wind hole first ahead of Idec Sport, skippered by Francis Joyon.
Idec Sport crossed the finish line just over four hours behind Macif, in a time of 8 days, 11 hours, 9 minutes and 3 seconds.
For Gabart, this is the third transatlantic victory on Macif – he won the 2016 Transat bakerly and the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre in the first outing in the boat in 2015.
“This is the third race in this boat and the third victory, I’m so happy,” said Gabart.
“This race is historic, it’s the first time these boats have raced together and I’m sure this is the future for sailing. To be part of this is unbelievable because we are just at the start,” he continued.
“The boat is just wonderful, and it’s an amazing feeling to know that she will go faster few years. I saw what we did with a crew and I will try and do the same speeds on my own. The boat has amazing potential,” added the 34-year-old French skipper, whose team included Pascal Bidégory, Guillaume Combescure, Antoine Gautier, Benoît Marie and Yann Riou.
As of 10.30 GMT today, Sodebo Ultim, skippered by Thomas Coville, is just 9 nautical miles from the finish.
It has been a tough race for the crew. Sodebo lost part of its starboard rudder after hitting a UFO.
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Then on Sunday night, Thierry Briend suffered a head injury while helming after the maxi trimaran was hit by a huge wave.
Speaking yesterday, Coville said Briend was “doing much better”.
“What happened left us all a bit scared. His speech was not coherent, he had memory loss and was a bit disoriented. Fortunately, everything seems to alright now,” he explained.
“He does not remember the circumstances of the accident, but he (is) talking normally and he has no injury. He’s also recovered a lot of strength. We’ve put a neck brace on him,” continued Coville.
“He will of course be scanned when we arrive, but his state of health is very reassuring. It was a very emotional moment, because Thierry is not someone who ever complains or moans,” added the French skipper.
Meanwhile, Actual, skippered by Yves Le Blévec, still has 393 nautical miles to go.
The racing is fierce as the crews of four trimarans pitch their skills against the crew of the Queen Mary 2 in The Bridge 2017 Centennial Transat.
Held as part of events to commemorate the centenary of the first landing of American soldiers in France during WWI in June 1917, the 3,152-mile transatlantic ‘race’ from Saint Nazaire to New York City is expected to finish on Monday (3 July).
The four trimarans accompanying Queen Mary 2 across the North Atlantic are helmed by award-winning skippers Thomas Coville for Sodebo Ultim, Francis Joyon, who smashed the Jules Verne record in January, for Idec Sport, and the two fastest around-the-world sailors, François Gabart for Macif, who has won the most races, and Yves Le Blévec for Actual.
Samantha Davies is the only British sailor racing in The Bridge Centennial Transat, which started last Sunday (25 June).
A former Yachtsman of the Year Award winner, Davies, who lives in France, is on board the 30 metre-long trimaran, Actual.
She revealed that the start of the race in Saint Nazaire was far from forgettable, with the crew having to perform a last minute manoeuvre to avoid being run over by their vast rival – the Queen Mary 2.
“At the time we didn’t have time to take the whole thing in,” explained Davies.
“It’s actually quite stressful sailing these machines in a very confined space, because the big trimarans are more designed to be sent across the Atlantic than short tack in a river with a huge liner,” she continued.
“We had quite a close call with them just off the start line and had to tack with a bit urgency to get a way from being run down by the Queen Mary. It was quite stressful but a once in a lifetime experience and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that,” stated Davies.
The Queen Mary 2 is unsurprisingly way out in front. As of 1300 GMT on 29 June, the ocean liner was doing 22.4-knots had just 964-nautical miles left to reach New York.
It is the battle between the maxi trimarans which is proving really interesting.
As of 1300 GMT on 29 June, François Gabart and his crew on Macif are leading the race, making 27.4-knots and eating up the 1,669-nautical miles left to cross the finish line.
Second is Francis Joyon and his crew on Idec Sport, who has 1,704 nautical miles until reaching New York, third is Thomas Coville and his crew on Sodebo Ultim, who has 1,743-nautical miles left to sail and last is Yves Le Blévec and his crew on Actual, with 1,882-nautical miles left to the finish.
Davies said upwind conditions have made for tricky living conditions on board.
“We were jumping waves and the movement is pretty violent, so trying to get any kind of sleep is tricky because you just get thrown out of your bunk. They’re noisy and there’s a lot of vibration as well,” she said.
“There’s not much respite but luckily we go quite fast so it doesn’t last for long,” continued Davies.
“It’s pretty interesting and funny to have the Queen Mary on our race report screen. We can see them hooning across the Atlantic at 24-25 knots in a nice straight line and every time I look at their position on the chart I think about all the people in their nice comfy beds eating nice meals in the restaurant,” she added.
The Bridge 2017 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 has also included the return of the Queen Mary 2 to where it was constructed in Saint-Nazaire, escorted by an international armada.