Retracing History Passenger Liner Takes on Superyachts in Transatlantic Race

The start of any ocean race is always an emotive affair but rarely are quite they so loaded as the one known as the Bridge.

The Centennial Transat from Saint-Nazaire to New York is a race between the Cunard liner Queen Mary 2 and four of the largest and fastest trimarans in the world.

The race started in uniquely spectacular fashion one hundred years after American troops arrived on the coast of France

The trimarans were unsurprisingly faster off the mark, but the Queen Mary 2 (1,132 feet/345m) is a very big favourite to the win 3,152-mile (5,837 km) transat and her arrival under the Verrazano Bridge in New York is expected at 08:00 on Saturday, July 1.

The “Ultime” class trimarans – Macif, Idec Sport, Sodebo Ultim’ and Team Actual, all over 25 metres in length, are expected to finish between one and two days later.

As forecast, because the race is against the prevailing winds, the trimarans will be working their way upwind to the north, while the QM2 can power direct to New York.

“Initially, the wind will be very soft in the Saint-Nazaire channel. The small windshift from north-west with winds of less than 10 knots expected in the evening won’t allow for much flying,” Dominic Vittet, the race meteorologist said. “As soon as the trimarans have left the Grand Carpentier lighthouse (in Saint-Nazaire) to starboard, they will already have to make a crucial choice about how they round the anticyclonic ridge that has the Bay of Biscay under lockdown and is forming a wall that will be difficult to cross in the first 24 hours.”

The fleet includes the cream of French sailing – who continue to dominate this class and offshore sailing in general – both on the trimarans and on the QM2, where Jean Le Cam, Alain Gautier and Bruno Peyron, gave the official start from the bridge.

There is only one Briton among the 22 sailors across the four boats, Samantha Davies, who is also the only woman.