At 1700hrs on Sunday evening, Francis Joyon will be back racing, when he lines up for the start of the new transatlantic race, The Bridge 2017, racing not agains the clock, but three mighty opponents in real time, the maxi trimarans Macif, Actual and Sodebo. He won’t be alone, but with a crew for this 3150 mile-long crossing between Saint-Nazaire and New York, to celebrate the arrival of the first doughboys from the US, who were joining the war to fight the Germans and Austro-Hungarians in 1917. With the crew chosen for The Bridge, after his successful Jules Verne Trophy, the skipper from La Trinité is holding out his hand once again to the younger generation and new talent.
From Gwénolé Gahinet to Quentin Ponroy
“I can remember when I came aboard IDEC SPORT two years ago” explained Gwénolé Gahinet, who was the youngest memner of the crew. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and I imagine that Quentin (Ponroy) feels the same thing today.” Bernard Stamm was busy with his Tour de France sailing race and Francis, relying as usual on his instinct, tuirned to a youngster, specialising in sailing smaller boats, who is a sailmaker. Quentin Ponroy, 30, winner of the round France race on his Diam24, and successful Mini racer, found himself called up into Joyon’s team. “Francis is offering me an incredible chance. We have known eack other for 7 or 8 years, when I worked on the sails for the previous IDEC,” explained Quentin. “I’ll be trying to offer my dual skills, as sailmaker and racer. Francis likes to check out on the water the work we have done in the office to see how we are using the sails. He always wants to be a bit more efficient with this or that sail in easy or tough situations, when we use a sail beyond its usual range. I’ll be paying attention to trimming and giving a few hints.”
“I have already sailed with Quentin on a Mini ,” added Gwéno, who now has two Jules Verne Trophies behind him. “Like him, I am amazed by the generous atmosphere aboard IDEC SPORT. Big names from sailing like Alex (Pella), or in the past Boris Herrmann and Bernard Stamm always showed themselves to be open and available. IDEC SPORT is a friendly boat, where you immediately feel at ease. The arrival of Sébastien Picault, replacing Clément Surtel,has not changed anything. We’re going to have fun.”
A good atmosphere and efficient performance
This fun atmosphere does not change thing as they aim to get a good result; “We are all competitive,” added Gwéno and Quentin. “Setting off with three of the fastest racing multihulls sia very exciting challenge.”
“I am a racer,” stressed Quentin. “As soon as the race begins, we’ll be going for it.” Gwéno added: “The race around the world against the maxi-trimaran Spindrift during our attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy in 2016 was particularly encouraging. Each time our paths crossed, you could feel the excitement aboard.” Up against some newer boats, which are more sophisticated with canting masts and foils for somes, IDEC SPORT is not worried and believes in her ability to perform well in certain weather conditions. “The boat is designed for strong downwind sailing,” explained Francis, “which we won’t see very often between European and the US this time of year. But she isn’t the worst performer either sailing upwind even in light airs. There are going to be lots of interesting strategic situations when fronts go over. We’re going to enjoy ourselves.” Gwéno and Quentin add: “We aren’t feeling any pressure and our goal is reach New York after sailing cleanly, simply and having had a lot of fun.”
Sébastien Audigane, member of the IDEC SPORT team which won the Jules Verne Trophy regrets for personal reasons, he is unable to take part in The Bridge 2017. He will not be replaced and so it is with a crew of five that IDEC SPORT will set off this evening from Saint-Nazaire.