Queen Mary 2 approaches New York finish followed by three-horse race

Saturday, 01 July 2017


- QM2 will cross the finish line off New York on Saturday morning
- Macif lead but still only 50 miles between front three trimarans

It is almost official, the Queen Mary 2 should cross the finish line off New York in the early hours (local time) of Saturday morning to win The Bridge – Centennial Transat and deliver her 2,500 passengers safely under Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at 04:45, past the Statue of Liberty before docking into the Brooklyn Terminal. 

The approach to New York will not be so easy for the trimarans, with shifting winds and currents meaning the 34-year-old François Gabart, in the newest and lightest boat in the fleet, Macif, is far from home and dry. The uncertainty has taken physical form as they navigate the famous fog of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Waiting behind for the slightest slip are two multihull thoroughbreds: the 61-year-old hard man of the sport, Francis Joyon on Idec Sport, whose latest exploit was to smash the crewed round-the-world record in January and Thomas Colville, 49, the skipper of Sodebo Ultim’, who smashed Joyon’s solo round-the-world record in December. Both men know that Gabart is after their records. 

“It’s been a very complicated race,” Colville said. “It’s been a mix between very light winds, nearly no wind sometimes, and with multihulls the angles with no wind are very complicated to adjust. And sometimes you’ve got a big run with some very fast reaching and then you need to be ready to go as fast as you can. 

“Yesterday night, the three boats were sailing at an average of 30 knots, it was very close in speed, and very exciting how very different boats could go at the same speed. François with Macif is a bit lighter and in a new boat, he’s a bit faster in light wind, so he has the advantage. But we all know the approach to New York is going to be very tricky, there’s a lot of light wind, lot of current, lots of traffic and it could change every hour. We got close to Idec last night, within 9-10 miles, we’re 20 now, so it’s moving all the time, you pay in cash for every mistake. It’s going to be close until the end.”

Five days after leaving St Nazaire, France on Sunday, June 25, the current routing shows Macif arriving 2 days 17 hours and 45 minutes behind the QM2, overnight and just into Tuesday (local time). Idec Sport are 4 hours behind and Sodebo Ultim’ a further hour and a half back with Actual (Yves Le Blévec), in fourth, sailing in a different weather system, another day and a half behind (arriving late on Wednesday). But the routing software is not writing this story. 

“It has to be said that it’s a big lottery and it is difficult in these conditions to fix an ETA,” Dominic Vittet, the race weather consultant, said. “We don’t know what will happen at all and the routing diverges a lot. Macif is on the right track, but as the situation is not very clear, there is still a lot of uncertainty. A lot of things could happen.”

But the skippers should know that conditions have been complicated on the Queen Mary 2 too, with Champagne occasionally running dry early at the captain’s drinks in the ballroom. 

Positions of the trimarans at the 17:00 ranking (French time) on June 30, 2017
1 Macif (François Gabart): 1210 miles from the finish
2 Idec Sport (Francis Joyon): 44 miles from the leader 
3 Ultim’ (Thomas Coville): 56 miles from the leader
4 Actual (Yves Le Blévec): 248 miles from the leader
Queen Mary 2, 399 miles from the finish

Samantha said (a message from the only British sailor in the race on board 4th Actual):
“We are heading west towards the Ice Exclusion Zone, upwind (still!) in 20-25 knots of wind. We are crossing some meandering veins of the end of the Gulf Stream (mixed with the Labrador current) and the sea state is varying massively depending on the direction of the current. Sometimes we are leaping off the waves, crashing down violently and at other times things are much more pleasant (I am taking the opportunity of a calm patch to write this message.) The sea temperature must have chilled down and the moist SW wind has also given us the first taste of the famous fog that is often hanging around out here. We are being vigilant keeping a watch out for traffic as there seems to be a shipping route just to our North. All is good on board, the crew all happy to celebrate Stan’s birthday, although all the balloons have already got popped - they're not very convenient on a trimaran! Signing off from the nav station to go and join Davy on deck...”

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

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 3,152-mile Centennial Transat from St Nazaire, Britanny to New York (June 25-July 3)
- an original tribute across the ocean to a century of American music (June 23-July 1)

The BRIDGE 2017 key dates

In Nantes :

- Thursday, June 15th: Arrival of the maxi-multihulls

- Friday 17th - Wednesday, June 21st: 4th World Cup 3 × 3 of the * FIBA ​​

- Tuesday, June 21st: Music Day

- Thursday, June 22nd: Parade of Ultim trimarans along the Loire

In Saint-Nazaire :

- Thursday, June 22nd: Arrival of the maxi-trimarans into Saint-Nazaire Port

- Saturday, June 24th: Arrival of the Queen Mary 2 and entry to the Joubert lock (Saint-Nazaire Port) Concert, sound and light show general public

- Sunday, June 25th: Start of THE BRIDGE, the race against the clock

In New York :

- Saturday July 1st: Arrival of the Queen Mary 2

- From Sunday July 2nd: first estimated arrivals of the maxi multihulls

The Queen Mary 2 in brief

 

Manufacturer: Chantier de l'Atlantique in St. Nazaire, ordered on 6th November 2000 and delivered on 22nd December 2003


Christened by Queen Elizabeth 2 January 8th, 2004 in Southampton


First cruise: January 12th, 2004

The Bridge summary:
- the 4th FIBA 3x3 World Championship of Basketball in Nantes (June 17th-21st)
- the return of the Queen Mary 2 in Saint-Nazaire, escorted by the international fleet (June 24th)
- the Centennial Race heading to New York (June 25th - July 3rd)
- the unique tribute throughout the ocean journey with a century of american music (June 23 - July 1st)

 

 

Presented by Cathy McLean

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