The Bridge – Centennial Transat came to an official close last night (Friday) with a prize-giving at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan after offering a glimpse of the past and the future.
The race was timed to mark a hundred years since American troops arrived on the shores of France in WW1, and it also brought together all of the fastest Ultimate trimarans for the first time as the class begins to take flight.
The Queen Mary 2 won its battle with the four 30-meter trimarans, as expected, in upwind conditions for the sailboats, but the start provided a unique spectacle and the contest that followed was keenly fought.
“I’ve always looked at sailing as a way of building bridges,” Damien Grimont, the founder and organizer, said. “Here, we brought the worlds of jazz, basketball, and business together to remember this 100 years and this race has been an amazing bridge between all of them.
“The Queen Mary 2 was the biggest thing because it was so important to the lives of so many people, particularly in Saint-Nazaire (where she was built). There are such emotional ties and such energy from that boat; 100,000 people worked on it and four million hours of human labor went in to its construction.”
The crew of the winners of the race, Macif, accepted the honors on behalf of their skipper, François Gabart, who had flown home to be with his wife, who is expecting a baby. Gabart joined the formal event by live link in bow tie. “I wish I could have been there, but I’ve got another responsibility today – being a father,” he said.
Macif lived up to its billing as favorite. But this race was the beginning rather than the culmination of a dream, bringing together all of the best Ultimate class trimarans, who are about to take a great leap forward.
“I feel so lucky to be part of this generation,” Thomas Colville, the skipper of Sodebo Ultim’, and holder of the solo round-the-world record said. “We have to think about these boats as a complete blank page for what is to sail solo and where we need to be on the boat. “
Gabart is clear: “ I know that we’ll manage to fly in the next few years,” he said.
For Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, one half of the VPLP design team, behind the first three boats home, the competitiveness of a 10-year-old IDEC underlines that it is more of an evolution, not a revolution, but he agrees that we are entering a new era.
“The evolution of these boats is very slow and the margin of progression is more important on the new boats, they’ve not achieved all they can do,” Lauriot-Prévost said. “But if doesn’t change anything on the boat, there will be a gap. Now, there is still a contest, but they need to think about modernizing it. All the other boats which are coming now are going to be half-foiling or foiling. IDEC has the same appendages and platform as it was in 2006, nothing has changed.
“In the next ten years we will have them foiling 80% of the time on a round-the-world, now they foil 20% of the time.”
This event was the bridge toward that.
“Everyone has built their own bridge during this event,” Grimont, a winner of the mini-Transat, said. “Whether it’s between countries, or on and between the boats, even the QM2, and the businesses and people that were on board it.
“I’d like to do it, I think it’s too late, maybe in crew. But I’m more interested right now in the revolution in sailing. In the past six years is unbelievable compared to what happened in the last 3,000 years. I’m enjoying being part of this moment.
We’re having a moment in the sport where we’re going to witness this revolution.”
Finishing times for The Bridge – Centennial Transat
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
5. Queen Mary 2 – 05 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes
by The Bridge