The Loire, the Saint Nazaire Bridge, an A380, the Belem, the Queen Mary 2 and the maxi trimarans Actual, Sodebo, Macif and IDEC SPORT… all in brilliant sunshine and light winds. That was the highly original and unique cocktail this Sunday for the hundreds of thousands of spectators lined up along the banks of France’s longest river. The race is now on for four of the biggest racing multihulls against the pride of the commercial fleet, the Queen Mary2, between where she was built in Saint-Nazaire and New York, where a hundred years ago, thousands of young soldiers boarded to come to Europe to win the First World War. At exactly 1700hrs UTC, the four giants set sail 345 metres away from Cunard’s huge cruise ship.

It all started in a light NW’ly flow, which helped the boats set off on one tack on flat calm seas. Francis Joyon and his crew down to 5 were in a hurry to get going, as an Airbus A 380 from Toulouse passed over The Bridge 2017.

Francis Joyon is off this evening on another transatlantic crossing far from the crowds. “It looks like being complicated with light airs to begin with, then some ridges to deal with and a lot of upwind sailing.” As the wind veers easterly the boats should be able to get away from the Bay of Biscay. The skippers will have to choose between a southerly route to seek out the trade winds a long way south or a northerly route with more wind, but irregular, while being shorter, which is likely to be the route favoured by the whole fleet.

Tracker: follow the progress of the maxi-trimaran IDEC SPORT in real time here.

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