The Quebec - Saint Malo, one of the most spectacular transat regattas has started Sunday. The first part of the race has the river St. Lawrence as a fascinating background (full of whales!). This time, however, the danger came not from the cetaceans but from the insidious tides of the river as you could easily see in the incredible picture above... Novedia Group skippered by Tanguy De Lamotte remained stucked in the sand but managed to be back in the race when the tide raised again..
The following interview, taken directly from the official site, clarify the event:
Tanguy De Lamotte tells his account of his misfortune after running Novedia Group into the sand whilst heading the fleet...
"After a very light but very fine departure from Quebec, we took the head of the Class 40 fleet following a succession of sail changes and lengthened our stride overnight to reach a 10 mile lead in the morning ranking after less than 24 hrs of racing..."
"...All was going well aboard. We'd sorted out a good watch system and then, whilst sailing through thick fog and preparing to change tack at around 1200 UT, we hit the bottom! The river bed rises steeply on the north coast of the ile aux lievres and unfortunately for us, the tide was on its way out and despite numerous attempts we didn't manage to shift the boat. Finally we dropped the sails and I (Tanguy) went into the water with a heavy warp and 2 fenders attached together to drop anchor as far away as possible from the front of the boat to try one last time to free ourselves... in vain! At that point we knew the boat was going to sit there! As a result we monitored the descending tide and protected the starboard side of the boat as it gradually laid down on the rocks. We set foot on land to inspect the damage and be sure that we could head off again in total safety to finish the race. We called the organisation to warn them of our situation and hatched our plan to get back into the race as quickly as possible: on the flood tide I repeated the operation to get the anchor line as far from the boat as possible and we had to use the pole to support the bow, which was leaning forward, in order to prevent the rocks from piercing the starboard side of the hull if the boat pivoted forward. During the day, we saw Gwen and little Louis pass not far from us... At around 2020 UT, the boat was almost completely refloated. We tried to keep her heeled over by attaching Pom and all our water to the starboard halyards but it wasn't enough. We finally managed to change the angle of the heel, the mast now leaning over to port, which enabled us to hoist the sails and use them on the starboard tack to increase the heel (and thus reduce the draft...) and we got clear of the rocks! Finally!!! We headed off again after what was a very difficult episode for everyone. I am very disappointed by this huge mistake which lost us the head of the fleet but I am proud of the team spirit as the crew wanted to remain in the race and never lost the motivation to give this transatlantic 100%. We are making headway with one reef in the mainsail and the solent. We're not last! After tidying up the boat we are getting back into race configuration and are doing fine. Yesterday morning at 0915 UT we rounded the Rimouski mark.