François Gabart and his crew were clearly in a hurry to see New York! In fact, it was a little ahead of schedule that the six “MACIF boys” took victory in The Bridge 2017 beneath Verrazzano Bridge on Monday at 13h31’20 local time, after 8 days 31 minutes and 20 seconds. Contacted just before tying his 30-metre trimaran to the dock in Manhattan, the skipper expressed his delight at being able to add another line to his track record with Macif.
How was the finish in New York for you?
François Gabart: “It was like last year’s; I can safely say that I know the routine now! However, each time, it slaps you in the face somehow as it’s so beautiful and awesome. I had an extraordinary time with my team. This finish at the foot of Manhattan is a real pleasure. It’s a beautiful image, which will remain etched on my memory for many years to come.”
Can you tell us how it feels to win a third transatlantic race in three years on the trimaran MACIF?
FG: “It’s a really proud moment coloured by a lot of happiness. We put this project together without necessarily expecting all this and we’ve managed to achieve some great things, whether it be in solo format or in crewed configuration; we’re delighted. There’s a sense of pride that I share with my whole team, as much in the preparation as the realisation of the race. I thoroughly enjoyed this race. Despite a less than simple course, despite lots of upwind sailing, there were some thrilling times; the minute you put a bit of pressure on the helm, you power up at some extraordinary speeds.”
How much did the boat play a part in this success?
FG: “You can’t single out the boat from the crew, partly because the boat was made by part of the crew (Antoine Gautier and Guillaume Combescure worked on the design and construction), and partly because in racing, we are one and the same. You need a symbiosis between the boat and the crew. We have a fantastic boat, we also have a great crew, and all that gelled together. On top of that, in reference to the trimaran MACIF, I’m delighted with her performance. It’s the first time we’ve sailed against IDEC Sport and it’s been a year since we sailed against Sodebo, so it’s always interesting to see where you’re at in relation to one another. The boat’s performance upwind is very good. At times, we were almost taken by surprise at going so fast! That proves that all the work carried out on the appendages, the aerodynamics, the foils and the boat’s capability in flight mode, have borne fruit.”
The objective of The Bridge was also to prepare for your solo round the world record attempt at the end of the year. Have you learned a lot with this in mind?
FG: “Yes, of course. Listening to the boat from the chart table and to feel her power up, enabled me to realise that I still had some room for manoeuvre: if I manage to grind a little faster, that can only be a good thing. The boat still has some fire in her belly and that gives me some food for thought on what direction to take. I saw that there were things I don’t yet know how to do singlehanded, but I am capable of getting a little closer to my goal. The record can be beaten, even if that’s not the only parameter that comes into play. Aside from that, I didn’t have the conditions of a round the world so I’ll have to get back out on the water and do some downwind sailing.”