A little bit of history
Québec : Founded by Frenchman Samuel de Champlain in 1608, the town of Québec was the cradle of French civilisation in North America. It was taken by the English in 1759 after a decisive battle between the French and the English not far from the Parc des Champs-de-Bataille. Québec Province was created by the English in 1763 and is now Canadian but the imprint of its French past is still clear. The historic Citadelle and the fortifications surrounding Old Québec are the most important fortifications remaining in North America.
Saint-Malo : A Gaelic monk by the name of Maclow founded the town in the 6th century. Over the centuries, it became a veritable fortress which lays claim to never having been taken and which still proudly bears its motto « neither French, nor Breton, but Malouin ». In the 16th century, its mariners sailed the seven seas and Jacques Cartier discovered Canada. In the 18th century the king's privateers by the names of Surcouf and Duguay-Trouin conquered a number of strongholds. In the 19th century, the town's sailors earned a reputation for fishing cod in the waters on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. 80% of the “privateer town” as destroyed in the second world war and has since been restored to its former glory. Every four years for the past 20 years, Saint Malo has hosted the start of the Route du Rhum and the finish of the Québec – Saint Malo race. One of the curiosities and aesthetic qualities of the waters off Saint Malo are related to the tides, whose range can sometimes extend beyond 13m. An important tactical parameter for the competitors in the Québec Saint Malo race, as it is possible for a hard earned lead to dwindle away in just a few hours a short distance from the finish.
Path sailed by the fleet
On 11th July 2004, after having crossed the starting line, the boats will sail down the South Channel of the Lower Saint Lawrence River. The town of Matane 198 nautical miles from the start is the first compulsory gate on the course lying 500 metres from the entrance to the channel leading to Matane's yacht marina. The next gate, Grande Grave, lies 164 miles further downstream in the Forillon National Park not far from Gaspé. As soon as this point has been passed, the next mark is just 18 miles away, 3 miles from the Percé Rock. 120 miles further again in the heart of the Saint Lawrence Gulf, the fleet will sail along the Havre-Aubert mark of the Magdalen Islands, a 65 km long archipelago comprising a dozen or so islands. Windswept islands offering a spectacularly beautiful paysage, where the blond dunes contrast with the red cliffs and the blue sea. Thereafter the boat will sail on to the Cabot Strait and Henry Pass between the islands of St-Pierre and Miquelon, on the southern coast of Newfoundland. This is the last mark before the boats head out into the immense cold of the North Atlantic with its growlers and tricky weather. The next passage point is the Fastnet Rock off the south-west coast of Ireland and marks the imminent arrival of the fleet in the English Channel and the finishing line off Saint Malo.
Facts and figures :
- 12 competitors in the 60-foot Open Multihull Class : Banque Covéfi, Banque Populaire, Foncia, Géant, Groupama, Médiatis Région Aquitaine, Sergio Tacchini, Sodébo, Sopra Group, TIM Progretto Italie and of course ….Gitana X and Gitana 11.
- 6th edition of this great classic yacht race. The 1st edition of the Québec – Saint Malo was held in 1984, to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Canadian arrival of Jacques Cartier, originally from Saint Malo.
- Start : 11th July at 12h 50 (local time) for the ORMA (60-foot) Multihulls, 12h 35 for the Monohulls and Class II Multihulls (50-foot).
- Time difference with France : 6 hours behind France
- A 3,000 mile (5,560 km) long course , 371 miles along the Saint Lawrence River.
- Record to beat : Fujicolor - Loïck Peyron in 1996 : 7 days, 20 hours and 24 minutes.
- Current titleholder : Groupama – 2000 edition in 9 days, 23 hours and 16 minutes.
- Québec – Saint Malo 2000 : 1st participation in a transatlantic race of a multihull (Gitana IX) belonging to the Baron Benjamin de Rothschild.