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Transat New York – Barcelona: A good start for Safran - SAFRAN monohull during the prologue of the IMOCA Ocean Masters race New-York - Barcelona in New-York City, USA on May 29, 2014
At 1200hrs (1800 French time) the monohull, Safran, skippered by Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière, set off from the North Cove Marina in Manhattan on the first edition of the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race. After heading for the coast along the Hudson River and waving a final goodbye to the Statue of Liberty, the four duos* are now in the Atlantic Ocean. Ahead of Safran’s bow are 3700 nautical miles to Barcelona in Spain and for Guillemot and Lagravière a fortnight of close fought racing

Guillemot has more than a dozen transatlantic crossings to his credit, but for Lagravière the Transat New York – Barcelona marks a turning point in his young and promising career. After the delivery crossing in mid-May, in this race Lagravière, the future skipper of the new Safran monohull, is tackling the Atlantic double-handed alongside a distinguished teacher. Leaving the North Cove Marina this morning, Lagravière could not hide his impatience to get going: "Here we are,” he said. “I’m really happy to be competing in such good conditions. Marc and I have trained well together and now I 'm looking forward to the race strategy. We are well rested, the boat is ready and we have pretty calm weather at first, what more could you ask for?"

A smooth start
At 1200 local time, the four crews crossed the startline in a very light breeze of 4-7 knots. There will be no record speeds for the next 24 hours, more an early tactical challenge asking questions of the sailors. "We are just behind a depression and we'll have to wait a good day before finding some wind,” Guillemot said. “We have a new transition zone to pass around on June 6, before negotiating the Azores High. At the moment, the routing is taking us south of the Azores. Safran is a light boat, so we are rather fortunate.” For Lagravière the light winds are not a problem. “Sailing in light winds is very interesting,” he said. “It puts a premium on finding the right path. We will be more active on deck. We will obviously be very careful about fatigue for both of us and will arrange ourselves accordingly. At sea, the working environment is always changing and the conditions too, so you have to keep some flexibility."

Formidable opponents
There are five duos on this first Transat New York – Barcelona and the crew on Safran know they will need to keep an eye on their rivals all they way to the finish line in Barcelona. "There are not many but there is quality,” Guillemot said before casting off. “Hugo Boss and Neutrogena are powerful boats. We are relaxed, but there is real competition, it will be a great battle in the Atlantic. It gets you going." The Atlantic crossing promises to be hard fought, but the arrival in the Mediterranean with the passage through the Strait of Gibraltar could also be a game-changer. It means the first edition of the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race should be open and exciting to the last.

* The Spirit of Hungary monohull arrived in New York on Friday evening, and the Hungarian crew of Nandor Fa and Marcell Goszleth will not leave before Monday or Tuesday, to give them time to finalize their preparation.

Photo : Mark Lloyd / DPPI
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