While the liner Queen Mary2 is not affected by the weather patterns in the Atlantic and can push ahead at more than 25 knots on a straight line to New York, the four Ultime trimarans competing in The Bridge 2017 are tackling the 3150 miles to America via the North face. As soon as they left the Loire Estuary yesterday evening, the routes along the coast of Brittany indicated they were all going for the northerly option to get to the Big Apple.
Rather than face the ups and downs of a long route in the south looking for the trade winds, which are not that strong at this time of year, Joyon, Coville (Sodebo), Gabart (Macif) and Le Blévec (Actual), chose the shorter option towards Ireland and Newfoundland in spite of the weather hurdles, which make this race so special. Crossing a trough today between two distinct systems with very light SW’ly winds, they will suddenly enter more violent conditions in a low developing SW of Ireland. There will then be another transition zone before another low, which is going to be complicated because of an ice exclusion zone.
“This transatlantic crossing is looking complicated,” declared Marcel van Triest, Francis Joyon’s weather expert during his triumphant Jules Verne Trophy last winter. “The question of whether to go for the southern option was put to the crew, but was rejected, as too long and far from certain. So there is going to be lots of upwind sailing for this crossing. The trimarans will go from close-hauled to a wind on the beam with a few periods downwind. They are going to have to be particularly selective in choosing their route, as the finish off New York is even more complicated because of the vast exclusion zone stretching down from Newfoundland. Combined with the presence of the Gulf Stream, this hurdle will no doubt play a key role in determining the outcome of the race.”
The crews led this morning by Macif, closely followed by IDEC SPORT all hope to pick up the SW’ly wind as they get close to the low off Ireland. They should suddenly accelerate with good speeds for several hours to match those of the liner to their south.
Francis Joyon, Guénolé Gahinet, Sébastien Picault, Alex Pella and Quentin Ponroy are keeping up today with the light, innovative Macif, a very new maxi trimaran. They are dealing remarkably well with the light airs for which the 2006 VPLP boat was not really designed. They are looking forward to a real battle in stronger winds and rougher seas, which are more common in the North Atlantic.
Follow IDEC SPORT’s progress here: