An exceptional line-up
With the summer holidays over it must be time for the Défi Azimut IMOCA. True to form, this atypical meeting, which forms part of the annual programme for the top skippers, is returning for a fifth edition that promises to be especially tough given its top-flight line-up. No fewer than fifteen IMOCA 60s are expected to compete in a series of double-handed races and regattas coloured by the highly sociable atmosphere, which has become the trademark of this unique event, whose start and finish are hosted on the pontoons of Lorient-La Base in south-west Brittany.
Top-level sport on the water and a friendly atmosphere on shore. Herein lies the recipe for the unfailing success of the Défi Azimut IMOCA, which has been devised as a moment for exchange and sharing amongst the finest talent in offshore racing. Created as a result of the coming together of the IMOCA class and the Lorient-based company Azimut, renowned for its commitment to innovation and high technology, the Défi Azimut IMOCA has been quick to establish itself. Today it ranks among the most prized meetings for offshore racing’s big players. Furthermore, the expertise of the CNL, the on-the-water organiser of the event, guarantees the sporting equity of the competition. “This is a particularly timely race. Indeed, in the run-up to the next major race, it gives us the opportunity to create real momentum for progress”, admitted one of the competition’s stalwarts, François Gabart, last year before going on to win the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe a few weeks later.
Battle commences with the monohulls in serried ranks…
This year, with the Transat Jacques Vabre fast approaching, a number of duos have taken up the kind invitation from the Défi Azimut 2015, at the start of which will be a number of the IMOCA Class’ legendary skippers including Armel Le Cléac’h, Sébastien Josse, Vincent Riou, Tanguy de Lamotte, Jérémie Beyou, Yann Eliès and Bertrand de Broc… Added to these will a number of the future protagonists for the Vendée Globe 2016, who will be preparing to set sail for Lorient to take up the "Défi" challenge where they will grace the pontoons throughout the long weekend (25, 26 and 27 September).
Like last year, this edition will incorporate a now classic format alternating between a 24-hour race, speed runs and a circumnavigation of Ile de Groix. Evidently a packed and varied programme awaits the duos aboard their IMOCA 60s, which have essentially been designed to race around the world. This event in Lorient will be a key opportunity to hone their trimming, get ready for the fray in race configuration and why not rack up a few psychological points in their favour prior to next major offshore showdown, the Transat Jacques Vabre, the 2nd official event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship.
Jean Kerhoas, President of the IMOCA class
“The fruit of a 5-year partnership between Azimut and the IMOCA class, the Défi is an unmissable autumn meeting. A popular slot for our members, that this year falls between the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race and the Transat Jacques Vabre, the first two stages of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship, it is now playing host to an international fleet for the first time. This is gives us a clear indication of the growing interest in our class overseas and it will be a great opportunity for our 15 duos to get a real feel for their steeds whilst putting on a show for the knowledgeable, enthusiastic public audience, which is something that cannot fail to delight me as class president.”
Bernard Bocquet, President of the CNL
“The CNL is very pleased to be able to share in this great celebration with Azimut.
This is undoubtedly the way forward to reconcile racing for all and a festival atmosphere for the delight of everyone with the sophisticated machines that are synonymous with the IMOCA class.
This shared passion, expertise and goodwill is very promising and bodes well for future success.”
Jean-Marie Corteville, CEO of Azimut
“The notion of excellence and high technology, which is inherent to the skippers involved in preparations for a transatlantic race or a round the world, really resonates with the heart and soul of our company. It spurred us on to instigate this meeting and now, five years on from the first edition, I’m delighted by the enthusiasm and loyalty of the skippers who accept our invitation. Their presence testifies to the vitality of offshore racing in the Breton region.”