• Tomorrow, Friday, launch of the Défi Azimut 2016 with the start of the 24-hour race for the sizeable 100% IMOCA fleet.
• Varied and interesting weather conditions across the whole course.
• 24-hour race can be tracked at the Cité de la Voile Eric-Tabarly, or live on the event website: www.defi-azimut.net
It’s tomorrow, Friday, at 15:00 GMT on the dot that the Défi Azimut 2016 will set sail. As tradition dictates in Lorient, the on-the-water competition will kick off with the start of a first race, the 24hr Azimut-IMOCA60 which, given the imminent start of the Vendée Globe race, will this year be contested in solo configuration. Jacques Caraës, Race Director, has traced the contours of a course that guarantees competitors the chance to race in the best possible conditions with the focus on both sport and safety just weeks away from the class’ main event.
20 knots forecast
In terms of weather, though the racing will be coloured by a predominance of light airs, conditions are set to gradually build to 20 knots on Friday night as a front rolls in. As such, competitors are in for a rhythmical and varied race punctuated by these different sequences. “In view of these forecasts and to prevent the competitors making headway too close to the coast with the shipping, I’ve favoured the outside track of a large triangular course down to the west-south-west of the island of Groix”, explains Jacques Caraës, Race Director. “It will initially take the fleet westwards on a long reaching leg, at 90° to the wind. Next up, it will launch onto a beat about as far as the latitude of Les Sables d’Olonne, before running back down towards Groix, where some gybing is sure to be on the cards”.
240 miles in 24 hours
Though this tailored course is likely to evolve, it should nevertheless enable the skippers to size up the competition with a good distance of some 240 miles to be covered over the ground. A great test in real conditions in prospect then, which promises to be action-packed, with those skippers ‘armed’ with a foiler set to be particularly quick in the stronger downwind conditions, and those at the helm of boats with more conventional yet more versatile appendages hoping to be able to hold their own over the course as a whole. Boasting a line-up of supreme quality, gathering together the big favourites for the podium in the upcoming Vendée Globe, this 24hr Azimut-IMOCA promises to be a thrilling spectacle. In any case, we wager that the solo sailors won’t have a moment’s respite, under pressure from start to finish on this race that sets sail from and returns to the rocky shallows between the island of Groix and Lorient.
24 hours of ‘live’ tracking
As per usual, the event organised for the 6th consecutive year by AZIMUT, a company based in the Lorient region that specialises in digital solutions, is taking up quarters in Lorient La Base. The majority of the boats making up this superb fleet are already tied up to the dock, where the shore crews are busy putting the final touches to the oceanic steeds today. Meantime, Race HQ will open its doors from tomorrow at the Cité de la Voile-Eric Tabarly, where touchscreens will mean that visitors won’t miss a beat as they follow the fleet’s progress throughout the race. For those who are not able to make it to the site, a special cartography created in partnership with Dolink and Geovoile, updated every 5 minutes and accessible on the official event website (www.defi-azimut.net), will track the trajectories of the competitors from start to finish of this 24hr Azimut-IMOCA 60 with its Vendée Globe vibe.
Quotes from the boats:
Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur): “The Défi Azimut is a meeting I’m really fond of and I like the fact that it’s on home waters: it’s nice and easy to take part in and the atmosphere here is always relaxed. Equally, in the run-up to the season’s main event, it’s an objective for the whole team who must be ready to go on race day. I see it as an excellent opportunity to rehearse, but also we won’t be able to go pedal to the metal or we’d risk extending the jobs list due to material breakage or having an incident just weeks away from the start of the Vendée Globe.”
Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord): “I’m excited about taking the start tomorrow, Friday, of the Défi Azimut, as I’ll get the chance to sail alongside the other IMOCA monohulls that will be at the start of the Vendée Globe, so we can see how we fair against the competition. At the same time, we’re not going to go crazy out on the water! We have to be careful with our machines and not take too many risks. Tomorrow, we’re setting sail on a 24hr race where I’ll be sailing totally singlehanded. I will be accompanied by a sound engineer and someone to keep watch as there’s a lot of shipping over the challenge course. The wind will be light at the start, before it shifts round to the south as it builds. On Sunday we have some speed runs offshore of Lorient and a circumnavigation of the island of Groix… I’ll have guests aboard for that, and it’ll be another opportunity to see how our rivals handle their boats, which will all be in Vendée Globe configuration”.