True to form, the Défi Azimut, an annual celebration of Imoca sailing, is returning to Lorient La Base, at the heart of Brittany’s ‘Sailing Valley’ from 23 to 25 September 2016. In the run-up to the start of the 8th Vendée Globe, the event is especially important for the numerous skippers expected to be on the start line, who are keen to size up the competition one last time prior to the start of the epic solo round the world race.
“This latest edition will be somewhat reminiscent of a Vendée Globe prologue and a genuine dress rehearsal with a race start and nocturnal manœuvres. It’s an opportunity to rack up a few precious miles in race configuration, which we don’t want to miss out on”, confirms Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII).
A loyal part of the Défi Azimut line-up, he’s delighted at the prospect of doing battle with the numerous candidates for the top spots that make up this first-class line-up in 2016, including Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild), Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ), Yann Eliès (Guéguiner-Leucémie Espoir), Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac) and also Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss)…
A tailor-made 24-hour course
Once again, on what is a long weekend in France, the event will kick-off on Friday afternoon with the “24HR AZIMUT-IMOCA60”, whose course has been tailor-made by Jacques Caraës, Race Director, in a bid to give the sailors some practice in the run-up to the IMOCA class’ main event of the season. This year, in view of the Vendée Globe, the various protagonists are invited to sail one race in solo configuration, which will call for quick reactions on deck, good tactical nous and brilliant strategy at the chart table. This coastal race features all the ingredients necessary to sharpen their weapons and why not score a few points against the competition.
Time to beat around Groix
Beyond these sporting aspects, everyone will be favouring simplicity and conviviality at this IMOCA family gathering, with Race HQ accommodated at the Eric Tabarly Sailing City. During the AZIMUT-IMOCA60 RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK, round the island of Groix, which will be contested in crewed configuration on Sunday, the skippers will be racing with various members of their team as well as partners in a bid to push their machines to their limits. We wager that, weather permitting, the competitors will be giving their all to beat the current record of 1hr 08mn and 10sec set last year by Vincent Riou and his men aboard PRB. The winner of the Vendée Globe 2004 is also back to defend or improve on the reference time for this Breton race against the clock.