Ultimes versus the Queen Mary 2
"They did not know it was impossible, so they did it.” - the quote from Mark Twain is most apt for describing the participation of Cunard's famous transatlantic liner, Queen Mary 2, in The Bridge.
This race will see four Ultime trimarans lining up 157,000 hp and 345m long cruise ship, setting off on Sunday 25 June 2017 from bridge on the river at Saint-Nazaire across the North Atlantic to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the entrance to New York harbour.
The four carbon fibre Ultime maxi-multihulls will be Sodebo (Thomas Coville), MACIF (François Gabart) Actual (Yves Le Blevec) who are part of the Ultim collective and Spindrift 2 (Yann Guichard).
This crazy idea, devised by organiser Damien Grimont, was set in motino less than a year ago under the patronage of Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's Minister of Defence, has now become a reality, following The Bridge Association signing a formal agreement with Cunard to charter the Queen Mary 2 for the race. The signing of the agreement took place at a meeting on Thursday 1 September in Southampton, one of the liner’s giant saloons.
This unique charter was made possible thanks to the tremendous effort of The Bridge Association, which comprises numerous private and public partners for the first time, along with a large family of private companies who have joined the Association's 100 Club, those who will cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2 during the race.
The Queen Mary 2's participation in The Bridge will form part of the centenary celebrations of US troops landing in France during World War One in 1917.
On 24 2017 the Queen Mary 2, escorted by an armada of boats flying flags of a dozen countries, will return to her home port in Saint-Nazaire for the first time since being launched there in late 2003. The following day, she and the Ultime trimarans will head off west across the North Atlantic.
The event will celebrate 100 years of fraternal and cultural exchanges between the United States, Nantes and Saint-Nazaire up to New York. Tony Parker, the international sportsman, is godfather to the event that brings together jazz and basketball, key symbols of the North American influence at the heart of the festivities.
David Dingle, chairman of Cunard commented: “The Queen Mary 2 is not only an ambassador of Great Britain, but also of France. The Bridge project is the perfect fit. When the liner left the Loire in 2003, there was the hope shared by Cunard and the proud population of Saint-Nazaire to see it back there one day. I am sure that seeing her familiar lines return again on the 24th of June 2017 back to its port of origin will be an event that will remain etched in maritime history."
Damien Grimont, organser of The Bridge: "The Queen Mary 2 is at the heart of a project that everyone thought would be impossible. I thank from the bottom of my heart all those involved in THE BRIDGE Association for their outstanding work, their friendship and values together with the sense of pride and “fraternity” they bring to the event. I also want to pay tribute to the drive that the regions and various businesses involved bring to the event. Their exceptional ability to quickly federate, and mobilise by embarking on the adventure, was the engine of the signing of the charter agreement, the foundation for the success of the event."