Teams set sail for NY-Brest transatlantic race

07-07-2012, 16h41

Five identical multihull boats took off Saturday from New York in a trans-Atlantic race to the western French city of Brest expected to last about a week.

Under ideal conditions with a big blue sky and a light western wind, the 70-foot (21-meter) MOD70 monotype trimarans started the race in the Hudson River for the inaugural Krys Ocean Race.

Before reaching the open seas, they took a short preliminary round near some of the city's landmarks and major skyscrapers before passing the Statue of Liberty to their right and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Some of the world's best multihull skippers are participating in the race, including France's Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia), Sebastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) and Yann Guichard (Spindrift Racing), along with Sidney Gavignet of Oman's Musandam-Oman Sail and Switzerland's Steve Ravussi (Race for Water).

The teams of six crew each aim to reach Brest July 13 or 14 for the start of the Tonnerres de Brest maritime festival that features thousands of traditional sailboats.

"These are very good conditions. We will leave with the wind at our backs," Guichard told AFP before the start.

"We probably won't go as far up as Nova Scotia. We should really be able to go in a straight line directly to Brest."

A sixth boat had been scheduled to participate in the race but had to pull out at the last minute after sponsor Veolia canceled its support.

Because the boats are identical, "the difference will be in the rhythm we set in the race," Guichard said. "It will be an extraordinary battle and we're going to give it our all."

The race is the first event of a new international circuit, the Multi One Championship 2012-2014, which also includes a European tour departing from Germany in September, and a world tour in 2013.

In 2014, the trans-Atlantic race will be held in the opposite direction, from Brest to New York.