A happy crew of just five finished in New York just after midnight after sailing 3152 miles from Saint Nazaire in France in The Bridge 2017. After eight days, eleven hours and nine minutes averaging more than 17 knots, Francis Joyon, Alex Pella, Gwénolé Gahinet, Sébastien Picault and Quentin Ponroy showed they could overcome even the latest maxi trimarans, which are much more sophisticated than their VPLP design launched back in 2006. Leading from the start, IDEC SPORT could not ward off the attacks in the end from Macif with her canting mast and foils. Pleased to take second place and to have seen how well their boat can perform sailing upwind, which is something they did not see much of in the Jules Verne Trophy, Francis Joyon and his men were delighted with this hotly contested Atlantic crossing, and the magical finish under the Verrazano Bridge near New York.
“It’s hugely pleasing to have been able to keep up with the more recent and advanced boats like Macif and Sodebo.” Alex Pella summed up the atmosphere of the whole crew, when they stepped ashore in Brooklyn. IDEC SPORT had to make do without the talent of Sébastien Audigane and so it was with a short-handed crew that they fought their way across the Atlantic. The North Atlantic lived up to its reputation with typical early summer weather. “We sailed almost exclusively into the wind,” smiled Francis. “That’s a point of sail we are not used to having taken part in round the world record attempts in the Jules Verne Trophy. The high speeds in excess of forty knots that we saw in the Southern Ocean were something we missed, but we were pleasantly surprised by the boat’s ability upwind. Our route was strategically very clear and we didn’t make any mistakes. As soon as the wind got up we were unable to keep up with Macif and her foils. She was then five knots faster than us. But our sail plan meant we did fine and it was fascinating and enjoyable to play around with various sail combinations. So overall, we are pleased. I have a happy crew, who enjoy sailing well and joking at the same time.”
Francis Joyon, who is used to these Atlantic crossings is back today in New York, a city he knows well after all his record-breaking runs. “Finishing was complicated. We were just making three knots in the river against the current and wind. We coped well off Long Island playing around with the thunderstorm and making the most of a wind shift.” The skipper of IDEC SPORT enjoyed getting back out there to fight against other multihulls like in the old days of the 60-foot ORMAs. ”If any other boats joined in, I’d willingly do it again,” he added. “For now, we are going to get some rest and prepare the boat for the delivery trip home. I may well do it alone to see how she handles when sailed single-handed.”
Alex Pella: “A great crew. We laughed a lot. I’m pleased to have been able to keep up with the newer boats, in spite of being a very small crew. In the end, this was a great result.”
Francis Joyon: “We sailed the boat well. Strategically, our route was clear and so I’m pleased with that. At the start, we were in the lead for a while, so we can be happy about how we performed. As soon as her foils were in place, Macif took off and was five knots faster than us. It was an interesting contest. It was fascinating in terms of strategy and close contact racing. It reminded me of the old days with the ORMAs. We were light, but in the heavy weather, we could have done with an extra crewman. We didn’t really see the sorts of speeds we had in the Jules Verne Trophy. We discovered what the boat was like upwind. She is a good all-rounder and we are still learning about her. I noted down a lot of little improvements in my notebook.”