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Défi Azimut IMOCA : A training opportunity for the Route du Rhum

7 IMOCA 60s had the chance to sail solo as fully crewed
A friendly gathering, as well as a sporting competition
The favourites are already showing their form

© Christophe Favreau
© Christophe Favreau

Amazing conditions greeted the 2014 Azimuth Challenge event. For its 4th edition, the event brought together a group of IMOCA 60s, for the week-end of Atlantic Télégramme Tébésud, for a friendly regatta before the big races this autumn, and did not fail to live up to its reputation. Even if the wind was a bit tricky, the competitors took advantage of this great opportuninty to get involved.






A reduced 24 hour race

The programme initially proposed a 24 hour race starting from Lorient. Due to the weather conditions and forecast, it ended up having to be a race of a few 100 miles. But even over 100 miles in little wind, things can happen : Vincent Riou, on board PRB, in the middle of the night hit a metal buoy. The effect stopped the boat in its tracks, so Vincent made contact with Jeremie Beyou who, already surprised by the sudden manœuvre of PRB, was not able to avoid the situation competely. The skipper from Loctudy now has a bit of work to do to ensure that his keel was not damaged.

Armel Tripon (sailing For Humble Heroes), meanwhile had to deal with a hydraulic leak which forced him to switch over to manual mode. Not ideal for a short coastal race. Finally Francpis Gabart, who suffered from an electrical failure had to give the helm to his media man to enable him to repair it. Respecting the rules, the winner of the last Vendée Globe event chose not to cross the finish line, due to not having steered the whole race solo. So it was Jérémie Beyou (Maitre Coq) who took victory for this solo race, after only 12 hours of racing.

The record trembles for the race around the Ile de Groix

Sunday 28th December, a few crewed runs were scheduled before the race around Isle de Groix, also to be a crewed race. Once again it was Jérémie Beyou who achieved the best times on the runs. Around Groix, it was Marc Guillemot (Safran) and his team who got extremely close to breaking the record of 1 hour 28 mins and 41s set by Vincent Riou  in 2011.

A friendly atmosphere, laid back, sharing with partners but also competitive, the Azimut Challenge achieved its objectives. With just over a month to go before the start of the Route du Rhum destination Guadelope, 4 of the competitors seemed particularly sharp. The battle promises to be very interesting between François Gabart (MACIF), Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ), Marc Guillemot (Safran) and Vincent Riou (PRB). For Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée), Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) as well as Armel Tripon (For Humble Heroes), the role as a outsider suits them just fine. A transatlantic race is long and, as time has shown before, its very rare that the form guide written before the event ever happens in reality.

Results of the Azimut Challenge

1 Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ)

2 Marc Guillemot (Safran)

3 Vincent Riou (PRB)

4 Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée)

5 Armel Tripon (For Humble Heroes)

DNF : François Gabart (MACIF)

Crewed ‘Tour de Groix ‘

1 Marc Guillemot (Safran)

2 Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ)

3 Vincent Riou (PRB)

4 François Gabart (MACIF)

5 Armel Tripon (For Humble Heroes)

6 Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur)

7 Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée)

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