Top-flight racing at its best
• Following a pacy series of speed runs, SAFRAN racks up the best time with an average of 18 knots.
• The crew of SMA just snatch victory over PRB in the Chrono Azimut – race against the clock around the island of Groix.
• Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) takes the win in the 24hr AZIMUT-IMOCA60.
The curtain falls on the 6th Défi Azimut 2016 after a great day of racing embellished by sunshine and a 15 to 18-knot westerly wind.
1 mile at an average speed of 18 knots
This Sunday kicked off with the crews on eleven boats taking up the gauntlet in a series of speed runs down a one-mile course. The majority of the teams managed to link together two attempts in a bid to knock precious seconds off their sprint times. One trio – SMA, Edmond de Rothschild and SAFRAN – immediately sent the speedo spinning. However, in the game of speed, Morgan Lagravière and his crew posted the quickest time, securing the best run of the day in 3 minutes 19 seconds, at an average speed of 18 knots aboard SAFRAN, who straight away went off on a flyer on their new foils. Nicely warmed up, the crews linked onto the unmissable race around both the clock and the island of Groix. From the headlands of Pen Men to Les Chats, this 20-mile course proved to be the ideal playing field for a fearsome, action-packed battle royal.
“It was a bit lively. We were careful at the start, then we took the right option, which enabled us to pick off the fleet and move up into the lead at Pen Men. We all made mistakes but Vincent (Riou), who was leading as we closed on the finish, stumbled at the last and we reaped the benefits. Everyone was sailing flat out so we’re all the same the minute a starting gun fires!” Winner of the Chrono Azimut – Round the Island of Groix, Paul Meilhat is the measure of this past day’s racing aboard SMA. The young skipper’s crew really got into this express round the island race, which ended with precious little separating the teams as they made the finish en masse. Ultimately, he snatched victory just a few boat lengths ahead of PRB and SAFRAN, who crossed the finish line less than a minute later. For all that, the westerly chop that picked up as yesterday’s front rolled through meant that, even with a good breeze and pedal to the metal, the race record of 1hr 08mn and 10 secs, set last year by Vincent Riou and his crew, is still standing tonight.
A taste of things to come…
With the Vendée Globe imminent, this race against the clock rounded off this 2016 edition in style, with the local crowds treated to a foretaste of the competition in store for the upcoming solo round the world race. With its top-flight line-up making up one of the finest 100% IMOCA fleets ever to gather in Brittany, the Défi Azimut has been a roaring success. Offering the skippers one last chance to size up the competition and their machines, it enabled them to really get a grasp of the human, technical and marine challenge that awaits them all on the mission around the three capes. “It was really nice to compete here in Lorient. It was a great weekend of racing with a relaxed atmosphere in the run-up to the big obstacle that lies in wait for us this winter”, confirms Armel Le Cléac’h, winner of the 24hr solo sprint aboard Banque Populaire VIII.