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Tracking The Beast: Spindrift Quebec / St Malo Record Attempt

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  • Tracking The Beast: Spindrift Quebec / St Malo Record Attempt

    "Spindrift 2 has crossed the start line of the 9th edition of the Transat Québec Saint-Malo, a legendary journey of 2,897 nautical miles (5365 kilometers) along the Saint-Lawrence river to meet the Atlantic Ocean with a finish in St Malo in France. The Spindrift team will try to break Loïck Peyron’s record of 7 days, 20 hours and 24 minutes, unbeaten since 1996"
    July 14, 2016



    There is ridge of high pressure lying ahead of Spindrift 2, that we will have to pass through as we sail along the Irish coast this afternoon.
    So we will be making a few tacks to get more of the east-sour-easterly winds and, hopefully, see the return of the sun. It looks like the wind will eventually strengthen to 15-18knots as we approach the Scilly Isles.

    17TH JULY
    20:45 GMT

    The fog has followed us all the way across the Atlantic - at times it seemed that the sun was not far away, but it is a false hope and the mist does not ever go and we are enveloped by a decidedly woolly and wet landscape.

    Our downwind run will soon be over as in the next 15 hours we will be sailing upwind along the Irish coast. We have been on a nice straight starboard tack since we left Percé Rock in Canada and this has been the ideal conditions to test our new-look redesigned foil, the same one that was damaged in the Indian Ocean on the Jules Verne Trophy.

    The watch system ticks on and life onboard is like a well-oiled machine. The atmosphere is one of concentration but it is good and the new recruits have adapted quickly. The capsize of our friends on Oman Sail worried us all, but it was good hear in in the middle of the day that the crew were all OK and that they had been rescued by a cargo ship.

    We are now 290 miles behind the leading three Multi 50s, who started three days before us. However, to claim line honours in the Quebec-St Malo, we will have to pass them. But for the moment we are not there and everyday we continue to work hard to keep Spindrift 2 moving forward.

    Our next goal is the Fastnet Rock, which we think we will reach on Monday afternoon. Maybe the weather will clear and we will get the chance to see this mythical rock.


    Speed: 20.9 kts
    DTF: 456.9 nm
    Speed (last four hours): 23 kts
    Cap: 70°


    All images © Spindrift Racing

    16TH JULY
    20:23 GMT

    Last night we left the St Lawrence seaway and sailed along the Newfoundland coast. At the extreme east of Canada, the area of Newfoundland has the air of an abandoned country: hostile vegetation, barren land and a harsh climate… Despite this, Newfoundland has a number of areas classified as world heritage sites by Unesco.

    The Grand Banks of Newfoundland have kept their promise. Known for areas of thick fog, we were not disappointed. I have never helmed in such conditions, where to simply see the bow of the boat was a relief. The thick fog, humid, grey sea and the few birds following in the wake of Spindrift 2 remind me of the Indian Ocean. The icebergs are not far away and the Race Committee does not allow us to sail beyond 47° so that we avoid the ice zone.

    When the Labrador Current, the cold current from the Artic Ocean, meets the warmer water of the Gulf Stream it forms the famous mists that are found at the Grand Banks close to Newfoundland. This area of shallows is also recognised as one of the richest fishing areas in the world, and it is not unusual to see fishing trawlers here. Because of the difference in temperatures, it is also here, between Newfoundland and Greenland, that there are deep depressions and areas of strong and violent winds.

    We are sailing, according to the instruments, at a little less than 30 knots, and once we past the ice gate we hoisted our gennaker and sailed downwind at 30-35 knots towards the famous Fastnet Rock.

    The Class 40 fleet is now behind us. Seen on the radar 2000 miles ahead of us, we passed downwind of the Multi 50 Olmix skippered by Pierre Antoine. Coming out of the fog like ghost, it is great to come across our competitors. The next ones will not be for a few days.


    Under grey skies and powered by a following wind of about 20kts, we are making our way towards the Fastnet on starboard tack.
    The wind has eased slightly and conditions are much calmer than yesterday ...
    The gennaker is out, our goal is to move away as much as possible from the low pressure area to the South, which would deprive us of wind. But in the meantime we continue to sail downwind taking advantage reaping the advantages of the last 24 hours before having to sail close to the wind once again.


    Speed: 26.4 kts
    DTF: 1,143.6 nm
    Speed (last four hours): 28.3 kts
    Cap: 72°


    16TH JULY
    00:00 GMT


    After we passed the obligatory mark at the famous Percé Rock, the long awaited wind has finally arrived accompanied by a short and choppy sea state as well as fog. Boots and oilskins are essential as everything is onboard is soaked because of the spray and intermittent rain. There is little comfort. We have been sailing at 30-35 knots for several hours and frequently reaching speeds over 40 knots. Successive helmsmen try to control the boat with the sudden and unexpected swerves, and life down below is difficult. Nothing can be done without hanging on and, despite this, it is not unusual to find yourself almost levitated for short periods of time.

    After Madeleine Island, we just passed​ St Pierre et Miquelon, the only French territory in North America. More specifically, we passed between St Pierre and Grand Colombier, better known as Henry’s Pass. Although still under a low and foggy sky, the narrow Pass is a beautiful sight. Bright green cliffs drop fall steeply into the sea, numerous birds soar in the building wind in the Pass and a few hardy and courageous fans came to greet us after a long wait. This will be the last bit of land of that we see before crossing the Atlantic as, in a few hours we will pass Newfoundland, but at night.

    It is also now that we should catch up with some of the other competitors in the Quebec-St Malo who started the race on Sunday. Over the next 36 hours, and if the weather conditions continue as they are, we should pass the majority of the fleet. Only the Multi 50’s will be difficult to catch before reaching the Fastnet Rock.

    Strong south southwesterly winds have been with us since Friday morning, and this allowed us to quickly exit the St Lawrence seaway, leaving behind the tourist spots, although the fog and mist put pay to that most of the time!
    At lunchtime on Saturday we will be sailing along the Newfoundland banks on the edge of the ice exclusion zone and the wind should ease off to 25-30knots and move to the southwest, which will allow us to hoist the gennaker and start sailing downwind.
    The plan is to keep on this starboard tack in between the two depressions - one from Greenland to the north that has been with us since yesterday and the other from the Azores. This Atlantic one might deprive us of a little wind, which will mean that we will need to adjust our course north…


    Speed: 32,5 kts
    DTF : 1 855,9 nm
    Speed (last four hours): 27,4 kts
    Cap : 90°


    15TH JULY
    02:30 GMT - DAY 2

    In the first 24 hours of racing we have covered no more than 260 nautical miles, averaging a little over 10 knots. Not great when we were expecting forecasted stable strong winds for this section of the route. Once again, we are sailing in Lemanique* conditions - in light to no wind - slowing down and then speeding up again, gybe after gybe, constantly changing the sails and all the time playing French elastic with our friends on Oman Sail, the other boat in our class.

    Night will fall in a few hours and we are now sailing at about 15 knots and are close to the Cap de la Madeleine on the Gaspésie peninsula. The water temperature has dropped from 16 to 12 degrees in the last few hours and we begin to feel the cold. Still bearable but brings back good memories. We have our hats and thermals ready for what is promising to be a cold night.

    In the space of half an hour we have seen two whales. Canada has created a highly specialised protection programme for the 13 species of cetaceans that can be found in the waters of the north west Atlantic and the St Lawrence. There is a marked protected area for the beluga whale, where we are not allowed to sail faster than 25knots. We need to report any sightings of whales and an emergency network operates across Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Prince Edward Island.

    But as I write, there is a large area of squalls several miles wide, dark and interspersed with lighting, approaching at high speed from behind. In an instant we went from 15 knots of wind at 150º to 41knots at 310º! Quickly we get organised. Yann takes the helm, and the rest of us to our positions ready to react on the winches. We quickly reef the main, set the staysail and wait it out all the while remaining really vigilant. It is double punishment for the helms, because not only a cold heavy rain just started but as always after a squall, there is no more wind and we are creeping slowly at 1.5knots. It won't last. Strong but unstable winds are expected for the next few hours - the night will be long and complicated.

    * Reference to the Lac Leman in Switzerland, famous for its unstable and often light wind conditions


    Speed : 11,6 kts
    DTF : 2 547,2 nm
    Speed (last four hours) : 9,9 kts
    Cap : 135°


    The people of Québec came out in large numbers today to cheer on the maxi-trimaran Spindrift 2 of Yann Guichard and Dona Bertarelli, and the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail, for their start of the 9th edition of the Transat Québec – Saint-Malo. After the monohulls and multihulls in the Class40, Open and Multi50 categories started last Sunday in a lively wind of around 20 knots, it was the turn of the two trimarans in the Ultime class to begin their race towards Saint-Malo. At 16:00 (local time), the crews crossed the start line between the cities of Québec and Lévis, following the other participants along the Saint Lawrence River. A legendary 2,897-nautical mile (5,365-kilometre) crossing full of challenges awaits the skipper, Yann Guichard, and his 13 crew, who will aim to break the record of 7 days 20 hours and 24 minutes set by Loïck Peyron in 1996.


    Joining the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence River will be the first crucial part of this transat. Famous for its rich ecosystem and its iconic landscape, it is above all an area full of challenges where the natural elements leave no room for mistakes. Saturday morning was devoted to briefing the sailors on the conditions to expect and highlighting the peculiarities of twisting 371-mile course. The sailors will have to manage the sometimes narrow parts of the river as well as the unstable winds and currents that make it difficult for sailing down to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Spindrift’s sailors will need to take account of these elements in order to move quickly on to the second part: the Atlantic Ocean. Regarding the beggining of the race, the weather forecast is rather favourable for the team who will be able to sail downwind with a South-West wind of 20 knots.


    Prior to heading out into the open sea, the trimarans in the Ultime category must go around the buoy at Percé, a town in Québec on the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula opposite the famous Percé Rock. That will be the last point from which spectators can admire these two large sailing boats before they head to Saint-Malo.
    The multihulls have two additional route requirements to fulfil before Saint-Malo: they must round the archipelago of the Magdalen Islands to the south and leave the Fastnet lighthouse to starboard (except in case of bad weather).


    Loïck Peyron made history on Fujicolor II, an ORMA 60 trimaran, in the 4th edition of the race, when he shaved an hour off Serge Madec’s time from 1988, to set the course record, which has remained the time to beat for 20 years. Spindrift will have to be tactically smart to avoid the pitfalls of Saint Lawrence and get up to the Gulf as soon as possible. To face the challenge, a large number of Guichard’s crew were part of the record attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy last winter, including Dona Bertarelli, who won the title of the fastest woman to sail around the world.

    Yann Guichard reactions, Spindrift 2 skipper, before leaving Québec harbour:
    "We are really happy to be here in Québec and to participate in this magical race. The weather conditions should be good even though Loic Peyron set the bar quite high with a 7 days crossing. The weather forecast is on our side with a downwind start of the race which should allow us to sail the Saint-Lawrence river quite fast and we hope to reach Saint-Malo after 6 or 7 days. It’s the first and only race we will do before our round the world record attempt so the Transat is a great opportunity to prepare ourselves for the next Trophy Jules Verne."

    Dona Bertarelli reactions, helmsman-trimmer onboard Spindrift 2 :
    "It is quite emotional to be back onboard Spindrift 2 after a round the world. The Quebec Saint-Malo is a mythical race, there are only few of those in the world and people here in Quebec have been so warm and their welcome have been amazing.
    We will take advantage of pretty good conditions with a southwest wind which means all downwind for Spindrift 2 during the Saint-Laurent crossing, its best sailing conditions. Loïck Peyron is hard to catch as we have seen in a round the world, we are going to sail the best as we can and to take each day as it comes, a race is a race many things can happen!"

    t the time we're writing, three Multi50 boats are leading the race, first place for Arkema, followed by French Tech Rennes Saint-Malo and by Ciela Villages which are getting closer of the archipelago of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Most of the other participating boats are rounding Percé, the last mark before entering the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Spindrift racing team members for the Transat Québec Saint-Malo
    Duncan SPÄTH
    Erwan ISRAEL
    Erwan LE ROUX
    Xavier REVIL
    Jacques GUICHARD
    Antoine CARRAZ
    Simone GAETA
    François MORVAN
    Chris SCHMID (mediaman)
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    Spindrift racing wins the transat quebec saint-malo

    New record race established

    Overall winner of the race and with a new record in hand, Yann Guichard, Dona Bertarelli and their Spindrift racing team crossed the finish line of the Transat Quebec-Saint Malo on Tuesday 19 July at 23 hours 17 minutes 41 seconds (local hour) (21 hours 17 minutes 41 seconds TU) after 6 days 1 hour 17 minutes 41 seconds at sea (at 20.99 knots). The maxi trimaran Spindrift 2 dominated this legendary race across the Atlantic, with a start in Quebec 3 days after the other participants in the Class40 and Multi50 categories. Reaching the famous port of Saint-Malo in Brittany in less than 7 days at the rate of 22.1 knots having sailed for 3,212 miles traveled, the team beat the record held by Loïck Peyron on Fujicolor II in 1996, by 1 day 19 hours 6 minutes et 19 seconds.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery