Transat Québec Saint-Malo got underway today, Sunday 22nd July 2012. It was under a sunny sky and a good breeze that the 25 teams participating to the eighth edition of the classic fully crewed race started their voyage down the St Lawrence river and across the Atlantic ocean. After having said goodbye to their shore crews, families and the ever friendly Québec public that gathered on the pontoons and lined the Bassin Louise lock, the boats reached the starting area, located just off the Parc de la Jetée.
Downwind start for the Class40 fleet - Transat Québec Saint-Malo 2012
Among a huge fleet of spectator boats the first to cross the line were the 20 Class40 at 11:20 precisely (17:20 CEST), followed 15 minutes later by the three multihulls and two monohulls in the 'Open' category. As expected the fleet started on a downwind tack under spinnaker in ten knots of south/south-westerly breeze quickly sailing past the Château Frontenac.
Aurélien Ducroz’s Class 40 Latitude Neige – longitude Mer was the first to cross the line thanks to the skilful tactics by Eric Péron, leading the 20 boats strong fleet towards the old port of Québec, closely followed by Fabrice Amédéo’s Geodis, Christophe Coatnan’s Partouche, Eric Tabardel’s Bleu and German Joerg Riechers’ Mare on the perfectly flat watercourse. Soon after the start the fleet split with a small group made by Denis van Weynbergh on Proximedia, title holder and race veteran Halvard Mabire on Campagne de France and Sébastien Rogues on Eole Generation – GDF SUEZ opting for staying close to the south bank.
The start of the Open group - Transat Québec Saint-Malo 2012
In the smaller but not less competitive Open group, it was Italy’s Andrea Mura on his 50’ monohull to get the best start while the multis chose a more conservative strategy, waited a little longer before hoisting their big spinnakers. Taking advantage of his boat’s speed Erwan Le Roux on Fenêtré Cardinal quickly took the lead on Erik Nigon’s Vers un monde sans Sida and Gilles Lamiré’s Défi Saint Malo Agglo.
The fight has just started, there are more than 2.965 miles to the finish in Saint Malo and the next two weeks promise to be as action packed as ever.
Samantha Evans, Sevenstar Yachttransport: 'It’s my first Transat I’m very excited, very much looking forward to it and just want to get out there but at the same time a little bit apprehensive because it’s my debut. I’ve done the training and I’m ready for it but I’m not quite sure what to expect. The weather is very variable at the moment, maybe a little lighter than we ere expecting, we will have to see for the funnelling effect at the end of the day but we are going to keep to our race plan. We have a lot of food, probably too much… being from different nationalities everyone likes it’s own food, the French and the German on board like to eat lots of snacks and sweets…'
Louis Duc, Avis Immobilier: 'We are happy to start despite having had a very good time in Québec. Things look ok, we are checking the latest weather files trying to relax and get into racing mode. The conditions for the start should be nice, possibly with some reaching before the win goes down overnight. In a few days’ time we could have some upwind sailing in solid breeze. Being the first part on the river, the strategy is much more complicated, uncertain and this changes our plans. Usually we know what to expect but here is different and there could well be some surprises…'
Mathias Blumencron, Red: 'We’re excited, definitively and positively nervous. We know it will be very interesting weather wise, tricky at the beginning. It will be tactically tricky, challenging and the competition is very strong. We will give our best but we are in very good spirit, the mood is excellent. We had a beautiful evening last night, had a good 'last supper'. We’ll see how it goes out there… our secret weapon is good spirit!'
Jean Edouard Criquioche, Sevenstar Yachttransport: 'The weather forecast for the start is excellent, yet it won’t be easy with so many boats in the narrow canal, plus some strong current. We’ll start under the big spinnaker and we will need to be careful and some teams can be very aggressive, it will be very much like a Formula1 start. We are a bit worried for the whales too, there is plenty in the St Lawrence and during the night it can become dangerous.'
Stéphane le Diraison, IX Blue: 'I feel like going, I’m eager and I feel relieved to start. I’ve delivered the boat up the river and now I look forward to sail down in racing mode. The river is immense and this first part of the race is going to be crucial. It will be close up until Saint Pierre et Miquelon and later it will be truly offshore. Our boat is fast and my crew extremely skilled, we think we can make it . we hope to be in front but the others are good too and it won’t be easy…'
Fabrice Amédéo, Geodis: 'You are always a bit tense before the start, it’s important to get into the race. We are happy to go, the first part is very tricky with the current and the funnel effect on the river banks where the breeze could accelerate quickly. We will have to be careful of the floating objects, the whales and obviously of the competition. There won’t be many options on the river, it will be key to be in the front pack because later the flow in going to turn and it will be hard for those trailing, the leaders could make huge gains.'
Aurélien Ducroz, Latitude Neige – Longitude Mer: 'I’m super happy to be here and I was dreaming about another transatlantic after I had to abandon last year… I’m twitching to go, I have a good boat and crew, we will try to do something good. Hard to say what to expect from the St Lawrence, it’s a bit unpredictable…'
Gilles Lamiré, Défi Saint Malo Agglo: 'I’m thrilled, at last we are here and we are going to be so lucky with the weather at the start. It’s going to be fast for the multis but the St Lawrence can always be unstable. Later we’ll have to see what appens in the Atlantic but apparently there won’t be huge lows. Sure FenêtréA Cardinal is the favourite but we’ve done extensive works on our boat and we have a bit more sail area and we’ll try to put that to good use.'
Erwan Leroux, FenetréA Cardinal: 'It’s going to be exciting, there will surely be a lot of people on the water and I hope it is going to be one good for us and the public, something to remember. It looks like we’re going to have some breeze and sunny weather, so it will be fun. Our aim is to try and get out of the St Lawrence as fast as possible with the low pressure to catch the high pressure later.'
A class40 leaving the Bassin Louise in Quebec - Transat Québec Saint-Malo 2012
Benoit Parnaudeau's Transport Coherence dock out - Transat Québec Saint-Malo 2012
Emma Creighton (Bodacious Dream) and Miranda Merron - Campagne de France - wish each other good luck before the start - Transat Québec Saint-Malo 2012
Transat Québec Saint-Malo website