With the skippers briefing this morning, just 24 hours from the start, the 7th edition of the Transat Quebec Saint Malo entered into the very concrete phase of the regulation instructions which will prevail during the race.
The start line moored across the large Saint Lawrence River, between the Yacht Club de Québec and Lévy, will tomorrow be the subject of the utmost surveillance on the part of the police and the river authorities. The large amount of commercial activity on the river will even be interrupted for two hours.
The 28 international skippers and their appointed crews have thus taken heed of the instructions lavished by the Director of the Race Committee Sylvie Viant. The perspective of several hundred pleasure craft massed along the banks from Quebec as far as Ile d’Orléans will require the utmost vigilance. With the weather forecast to be extremely mild as the start is given tomorrow at 1100 hours local time (1500 UT), a guarantee of an ultra-fast opening may be lacking, but it should at least facilitate the local safety procedures put in place.
The tension mounts 24 hours from the start…
There were more than 40 racers and skippers assembled early this morning at the appeal of the Race Management in order to receive the final specifications relating to the course of the Transat Quebec Saint Malo. Sylvie Viant, Director of the Race Committee, meticulously went through each compulsory course mark, with particular emphasis on the measures put in place at Rimouski, Percé, Saint Pierre et Miquelon and then just before the finish in Saint Malo, at Banchenou. The intense commercial shipping on a river which acts as a vital artery to the local economy of Quebec, will thus be interrupted from 1000 to 1230 hours. Cargo ships, ferries and other pleasure boats should thus not interfere with the start procedures launched 10 minutes before the starting gun at 1100 hours local time for the Multihulls and FICO Class, and 1130 hours for the Class 40. All these yachts will leave the pontoons beforehand, from 0900 hours. The Quebec coastguard has mobilized a large number of craft and manpower to ensure the start runs smoothly. 23 surveillance boats will patrol the zones reserved for pleasure craft, accompanied by 4 police boats. Part of this escort should follow the fleet as far as the tip of the île d’Orléans.
A course with a measured risk…
The 114 sailors divided between the 28 participating yachts are expecting a long and perilous exit from the Saint Lawrence River. In what is forecast to be a light E’ly breeze, they are going to have to perform a series of tacks along a river criss-crossed with strong currents, and carrying a large amount of logs. Once they get to Tadoussac, the crews will also have to watch out for animals as beluga whales and the like enjoy idling around these areas. The good news of the day comes with the surveillance of the drifting icebergs which formally forecasts a complete lack of large icebergs to the south of Newfoundland. The route towards Saint Malo will therefore be free, without ‘gates’, from Cape Race as far as the ‘Pirate City’ of Saint Malo, with just the slight chance of growlers.
Final hours onshore
It is a fleet perfectly prepared for the 2,855 theoretical miles of the race who will tomorrow morning set out from the port of Quebec. Each crew is today savouring the last delights of the Quebec hospitality. Oliver Krauss and his Mediterranean crew on 'Mistral Loisirs' will simply proceed with the victualling of fresh products, fruit, bread and eggs. Yannick Bestaven (Cervin) aspires to one final jaunt around the old town whilst Giovanni Soldini is keen to rack up some extra sleep given that the first few days of racing are likely to see the crews severely manhandled. Hervé Laurent, freshly embarked aboard Pierre Antoine’s trimaran Imagine is itching to rediscover the ambiance of his victory in 1992 with Laurent Bourgnon. As for the Belgian Christophe Bullens, he announces the tone with humour; 'Go flat out at the start and then accelerate…' In short…
7th edition of the Transat Quebec Saint Malo, 2,855 theoretical miles.
Start Sunday 20th July at 1100 hours (local time) for the multihulls and the FICO Class, and 1130 hours for the Class 40
28 participating yachts:
18 in Class 40
6 in Open 50 (multis)
4 in FICO Class, 55 to 60 footers. www.quebecsaintmalo.com