Brilliant sunshine and a 12-knot beam wind for the start of the twelve multihulls in the sixth edition of the Québec-Saint Malo. Thousands of spectators lined the banks of the Saint Lawrence river to watch the event. In the morning, the weather forecast was for weak conditions at the start, a light west-south westerly breeze which has started to pick up. At 12h50 (local time Québec, 18h50 French time), the starting shot was fired from the canon at the Yacht Club du Québec, located one mile to the west of the town. Sailing against the rising tide, the twelve strong trimaran fleet had a tough time aiming for the starting line. Médiatis-Région Aquitaine was first across the line, but the hydraplaning catamaran was not at ease in a beam wind and so it was not long before he was caught by Géant and Sergio Tacchini who moved into the lead, with a group of tris hot on their heels just one hundred or so metres behind, sailing at about 12 knots. A series of gybes was necessary to cross over from one side of the Saint Lawrence to the other, beam reaching with mainsail and gennaker. Tiring manoeuvres which should stay with the fleet until they reach the Atlantic, in around 48 hours.
This morning, the 9 leaders change with each gybe. A merry dance up front which should last for 48 hours or so, particularly as no-one is prepared to let the slightest inch go for fear that it might play into the hands of the opponents. On board, all the crews have been up on deck since the start as sailing down the Saint Lawrence is highly demanding and all hands are needed sailing with gennaker up. Only the navigator is down below at the chart table, his eyes glued to the screen of his computers watching out for the numerous pitfalls on this 371 mile long (687 km) stretch of the course which should last for another 48 hours. Tides, currents, obstacles, logs or whales, and complicated aerology given the height of the banks in certain places, the effects of the headlands, windless zones or sudden accelerations. Perils which each competitor has to avoid to stay in the match. The key to success for what follows is to make sure you are among first boats out of the Saint Lawrence river. Now is not the time to sit back and take things easy – not for the next 48 hours.
A steady 10-15 knot west-south westerly breeze has been blowing since the start, and the fleet has been clocking up average speeds of around 21 knots with instant speed readings reaching 18 –20 knots on some boats. The leading multis, lead by Gitana 11, should be sailing shoulder to shoulder for the rest of the day, each clearly determined not to lose one square inch of ground.
1 -Gitana 11 - 2 810.6 miles from the finish
2- Foncia 0.7 miles from the leader
3 -Groupama 1 mile
3 – Géant 1 mile
5 -TIM-Progetto Italia 1.3 mile
6 -Sergio Tacchini 2.4 miles
7 -Gitana X 4.8 miles
8-Banque Populaire 5.6 miles
9-Banque Covefi 5.7 miles
10 -Sopra Group 7 miles
11 –Sodebo 22.3 miles
12 -Mediatis-Région Aquitaine 24 miles