Macif on course for Transat victory

Published on July 2nd, 2017

(July 2, 2017) – Barring a technical failure or incident, Macif is expected to win the race of the trimarans and could cross the finish line of The Bridge Centennial Transat under the Verrazano Bridge in the late afternoon or evening (New York time) of Monday, July 3.

But underlining that it is not over until the line is crossed, Sodebo Ultim’, who have been left behind in third place, suffered an impact to their starboard rudder, losing a piece of it. It shows that UFOs or sudden breakages can come from anywhere at sea. “Tacking last night, we realized that the bottom of the rudder was missing, about 20cm,” Jean-Luc Nélias said from Sodebo Ultim’. “It’s not very serious, but we slowed down a lot clean it up.”

After a week of racing since leaving Saint-Nazaire at 19:00 (French time) last Sunday (Jun 25), François Gabart, the skipper of Macif and his five crew, were 99 miles ahead of second-placed Idec Sport at the 19:00 ranking (French time), with only 328 miles to the finish. Sodebo Ultim’ in third-place were 169 miles behind Macif.

Macif was first to cross a ridge of high pressure tonight and thus was first into the large corridor of southwesterlies. In the space of little more than 24 hours, Gabart, comfortable as ever leading from the front, has turned what could have been a nail-biter into an apparent procession.

“Idec and Sodebo, were back in this corridor of (southwesterly) acceleration a few hours later but could only watch as the leader disappeared,” Dominic Vittet, the race weather consultant, said. “Now that they have enough wind to fully exploit the power of the boats the elastic will stop stretching, but the damage is done. On paper, it is impossible for them to make up more than 100 miles on the leader in less than 500 miles of racetrack.

“The sea is messy with an unpleasant chop of about 1.5 meters, which should swell in the next hours and make sailing a bit tougher. But there is nothing very complicated for François Gabart and his crew to manage – they are beginning to pick-up the scent of victory.

“The end of the race seems to have been designed precisely for Macif.”

Gabart should make a big tack towards Boston, turn and leave Cape Cod to his right and approach to within 100 miles of the finish on Monday, July 3 at around 06:00 (New York time).

Macif’s arrival times depending on whether a low-pressure system to the west turns into a full-blown depression.

“If Macif is quick enough, she could climb up a channel with southwest winds and pass under Verazzano Bridge in the late afternoon between 16:00 and 20:00 local time,” said Vittet. “If she is slower, when the winds begin to turn west and then to the northwest, or because the low pressure has decided to move faster to the east, she would be forced to beat upwind in this last part of the racecourse and only cross the finish line between 18:00 and midnight.”

To his opponents, Gabart must seem only slightly less relentless than the Queen Mary 2. After crossing the finishing line on Sunday morning, the QM2 had already been turned around by Sunday evening was heading back out in the Atlantic, this time to Nova Scotia. Gabart can probably also justifiably claim overall victory as the Queen Mary 2 spent an extended period of time in the Ice Exclusion Zone, where the trimarans were forbidden from entering.

Antoine Gautier, Macif’s technical special on board, was enjoying the lead but conservative in his finishing estimates. “Last night, we passed through the famous ridge of high pressure, we mad a good impression on our opponents,” he said. “We expect between 25 and 30 knots of southwest wind. It’s hard to give an ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival), but it should be on the night of Monday 3 to Tuesday 4 July.”

UPDATE: Thomas Colville, the skipper of the Ultimate-class trimaran, Sodebo Ultim’ contacted the CCMM in Toulouse (the Maritime Medical Consultation Center) at 21:30 (French time) to inform them Thierry Briend, one of his teammates, was injured after a violent fall while sailing in choppy seas 180 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Briend was at the helm when he was knocked down by a huge wave. The force made him lose consciousness for a few seconds. The race doctor, Jean-Yves Chauve, is in permanent contact with the boat. “The fall resulted in a head trauma that requires medical supervision,” Chauve said. No evacuation is envisaged at this time and Briend will remain on the boat.

ETA arrival times:
MACIF Monday 3rd July 17:00 UTC
IDEC Tuesday 4th July 01:00 UTC
SOBEDO Tuesday 4th July 09:00 UTC
ACTUAL Thursday 6th July 06:00 UTC

The 3,152-mile (5,837 km) Centennial Transat – The Bridge – from Saint-Nazaire to New York started June 25 in France between the Queen Mary 2 (1,132 feet/345m) and four of the largest and fastest trimarans in the world. The ocean liner finished July 1.



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