“A woman could sail these” - only woman (and Briton) in the race says the Ultimate-class trimarans are not just men after finishing transat in New York

Thursday, 06 July 2017

The bridge 2017


© Thierry Martinez / THE BRIDGE

Samantha Davies, the only Briton and woman in The Bridge – Centennial Transat Ultimate trimaran race arrived in New York late on Wednesday night with her four crewmates,sailing past the Statue of Liberty with moonlight on the water to bring the event to close. All four boats are now safely moored in The Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Actual, with Davies as navigator, finished fourth in the race, crossing the finish line under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York, on Wednesday, July 5 at 22:28:58 (local time); 10 days, 09 hours 28 minutes and 56 seconds after leaving from under the Saint-Nazaire Bridge on Sunday, June 25. Actual sailed 3,609.92 miles at an average speed of 14.47 knots.

Actual finished 01 day 17 hours 10 minutes and 01 second after third-placed Sodebo Ultim’ and 02 days 08 hours 57 minutes and 36 seconds after the winner Macif.

“I haven’t sailed a multihull for so long, and they were very different then,”
Davies said. “My respect levels for the people sailing these solo was pretty high before - now it’s even high. But also, I hadn’t thought that somebody my size could sail these boats, but after this experience, I think anybody could do it (solo).

“It was an amazing finish, it was the first time for me arriving in New York, so it’s not something that happens everyday,”
Davies said. “And it was an amazing start  - two hours after we left I turned to Yves and said “thank you for taking me”. I enjoyed the race so much, maybe having a year off the Volvo helped.

Skippered by Yves Le Blévec and with a four-strong crew of Davies, Davy Beaudart, Stansilas Thuret and Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, Actual faced an uphill battle from the start.

Launched in 2007, Actual, Thomas Colville’s (Sodebo) old boat, is smaller and less powerful than the three trimarans, which finished in front of her – here she averaged 4 knots less than Macif over the course.

But knowing that before did not make it easier to accept. “Everything went well on board, but it's always a little psychologically difficult when the boats in front have already finished. We concentrated on sailing the boat as well as we could and looking at ways we could make improvements,” said Davies, who explored the option of going south round the Azores High rather than the northerly route all four took.

“We looked at it a lot prior to the start (the southern route across the Atlantic). We never ruled it out. We knew what we had to look out for, and maybe it would was a way that we could have got past them. It would have been great to have gone downwind around the high, but wouldn’t be here now if we had. The risks were too high, we would never have got back north.”

© Thierry Martinez / THE BRIDGE

was struggling to hang on from the very start and after the four boats headed so far north that they tacked just west of Ireland, the leaders reached away from her in northwesterlies.

After two days of racing Actual was almost 200 miles behind the front two and soon sailing in different weather systems. It was a gap they would never bridge, but it was testament to their skills, not least, Davies’s navigation that the gap did not grow much bigger until day from the finish, and that was only when Macif had dropped her two pursuers. But they did not let up and Davies even had time to help her four French crewmates with some vocabulary for New York. “We were speaking a bit in English to prepare for arriving in New York,” she said. “Some were more motivated than others.”

But for Le Blévec it was not all about trying to win. He is planning to try and break the solo record for sailing around the world the “wrong” way (against the prevailing winds) this winter this largely upwind race provided excellent opportunities for optimising the boat. “We only took the gennaker out once – this morning, with Sam on the helm.” Le Blévec said.

There was good news in the morning on Thierry Briend, one the crew on Sodebo Ultim’, whowas taken to the New York Presbyterian - Brooklyn Methodist Hospital after crossing the finish line on Wednesday. Briend suffered a head injury and was briefly unconscious after being struck by a huge wave while helming. He was allowed to leave the hospital on Thursday and has been permitted to return to France by plane.

1. Macif - 08 days, 00 hours 31 minutes and 20 seconds
2. IDEC Sport - 08 days, 11 hours 09 minutes and 03 seconds
3. Sodebo Ultim’ - 08 days, 16 hours 18 minutes and 55 seconds
4. Actual - 10 days, 09 hours 28 minutes and 56 seconds

Queen Mary 2 - 5 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes
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 3,152-mile Centennial Transat from Saint-Nazaire, Brittany to New York (June 25-July 3)

- an original tribute across the ocean to a century of American music (June 23-July 1)

Presented by Cathy McLean

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Last Updated ( Friday, 07 July 2017 )