Départ défi Azimut le 21 septembre 2018

From 18th to 22nd September, the ninth Azimut Challenge in Lorient will bring together an exceptional line-up of 23 IMOCAs, including three brand new boats. Because this is a Transat Jacques Vabre year (start on 27th October), theDéfi Azimut will be raced double-handed with a bigger format which should offer the sailors some precious lessons. We look at the programme and who is taking part.

An extended format

For the first time, theDéfi Azimut will last five days (instead of the usual three). On Wednesday 18th September, the crewed runs will mark the start of the event in Lorient. The aim is to get the best time over the distance of 1.5 miles. Last year, the event was particularly spectacular with some acrobatics from Charal, which had only just been launched. On Thursday 19th September, 23 IMOCAs are expected to set sail in the big race in this Azimut Challenge with 48 hours of double-handed racing. This offshore race that everyone is looking forward to, will be the final battle between the boats before the Transat Jacques Vabre. To finish, on Sunday 22nd September, the crews will take part in the traditional race around the island of Groix, during which they will be able to take on board some guests.

First battle for the latest generation IMOCAs

The IMOCA class had a busy summer with its launches, with five boats being unveiled in just six weeks. One of them, Arkea-Paprec sailed by Sébastien Simon and Vincent Riou, has already taken part in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Unfortunately, it sadly ended with the boat retiring and so this time, the duo will really want to complete the Azimut Challenge race and get a good result. For Vincent, it is also an opportunity to defend his solo title won last year. In the absence of Charlie Dalin’s Apivia, Arkea-Paprec will be able to see how she measures up against two other IMOCAs launched in recent days: Advens for cybersecurity (Thomas Ruyant/Antoine Koch) and DMG Mori (Kojiro Shiraishi/Gilles Campan). Although they are all busy fine tuning their respective boats, these double-handed crews will no doubt find it hard to leave to one side their competitive instincts...

An armada of 15 foilers

Charal, an IMOCA from the latest generation launched a year ago, benefits from a year more of training than the newer boats. Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt are sailing on a boat that everyone fears and which has been made more reliable since her first experience of racing in the 2018 Azimut Challenge. Recent winners of the Rolex Fastnet Race, they will be among the favourites this year.

After finishing second in the same race, Kevin Escoffier and Nicolas Lunven (PRB) will also be closely watched, as will the pairs formed by Sam Davies/Paul Meilhat (Initiatives Cœur), Louis Burton/Davy Beaudart (Bureau Vallée), Yannick Bestaven/Roland Jourdain (Maître CoQ), Boris Herrmann/Will Harris and Pascal Bidégorry/Charlie Enright (11th Hour) on the former Hugo Boss... We will also keeping a close eye on the performance of the new look MACSF sailed by Isabelle Joschke and Morgan Lagravière, as she is almost a new boat after all the work done on her during her eight months in the yard and the addition of foils. We shall also see whether the recent North Atlantic record breaker can do as well when in race mode. Aboard La Fabrique, Alan Roura will be joined by Sébastien Audigane. In all, 15 IMOCAs with foils are expected to compete in the Azimut Chalenge.

All of the double-handed crews will be doing their utmost

Competing against increasingly competitive foilers, it is getting harder and harder for the IMOCAs with straight daggerboards to keep up with the frontrunners. Hard, but not impossible… Clarisse Crémer and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire X) proved that when they finished in third place in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Other sailors racing on boats that have been worked on over a long period may be seen as outsiders with a chance. That is true in the case of Nicolas Troussel/Jean Le Cam (Corum L’Epargne), Maxime Sorel/Guillaume Le Brec (V and B – Mayenne), Damien Seguin/Yoann Richomme (Groupe Apicil) – among others. For all of them, this is an ideal opportunity to see how they measure up against their rivals and hopefully receive a boost to their confidence before the Transat Jacques Vabre, the next big event in the Globe Series, which will soon be upon them...


Registered for the 2019 Azimut Challenge:

- 11th Hour: Pascal Bidegorry and Charlie Enright - Foiler
- Advens for cybersecurity: Thomas Ruyant and Antoine Koch - Foiler
- Arkea-Paprec: Sébastien Simon and Vincent Riou - Foiler
- Banque Populaire X: Clarisse Crémer and Armel le Cléac'h
- Bureau Vallée II: Louis Burton and Davy Beaudart - Foiler
- Charal: Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt - Foiler
- CORUM l’Epargne: Nicolas Troussel and Jean Le Cam
- DMG Mori: Kojiro Shiraishi and Gilles Campan - Foiler
- Groupe Apicil: Damien Seguin and Yoann Richomme
- Groupe Setin: Manuel Cousin and Gildas Morvan
- Initiatives Cœur: Samantha Davies and Paul Meilhat - Foiler
- La Fabrique: Alan Roura and Sébastien Audigane - Foiler
- La Mie Câline - Artipôle: Arnaud Boissières and Xavier Macaire - Foiler
- MACSF: Isabelle Joschke and Morgan Lagravière - Foiler
- Maître CoQ: Yannick Bestaven and Roland Jourdain - Foiler
- Malizia 2 - Yacht Club de Monaco: Boris Hermann and Will Harris - Foiler
- Newrest-Art & Fenêtres: Fabrice Amedeo and Eric Péron - Foiler
- PRB: Kevin Escoffier and Nicolas Lunven - Foiler
- Prysmian Group: Giancarlo Pedote and Anthony Marchand - Foiler
- Pure: Romain Attanasio and Sébastien Marsset
- Time For Oceans: Stéphane Le Diraison and François Guiffant
- V and B - Mayenne: Maxime Sorel and Guillaume Le Brec
- Vers un monde sans Sida: Erik Nigon and Vincent Le Serec


Provisional programme for the ninth Azimut Challenge

Wednesday18th September
1530-1800hrs: Speed runs 

Thursday 19th September
1300hrs: start of the 48-hour race

Saturday 21st September
Finish of the 48-hour race

Sunday 22nd September
1300hrs: start of the crewed race around Groix 

News in brief

- Team Meeting for The Ocean Race : The city of Alicante which will host the start of The Ocean Race in the autumn of 2021, has been hosting since Tuesday and for two days a "Team Meeting" bringing together all of those developing projects. This meeting allowing them to work together and obtain information was set up by the organiser in order to talk to all of the teams that are registered or hope to compete in the 2021 crewed race around the world.

- Thalès and Iridium unveil their partnership with the IMOCA class : 
Revealed for the first time a few months ago, the Thalès and Iridium Groups have announced in a video clip their partnership allowing the installation of the Thales VesseLINK™ system using the Iridium Certus network on all of the boats in the IMOCA fleet, which will enable the skippers to remain connected at all timeswherever they are.

 - The new IMOCA website is online : A perfect way to bring togetherskippers, race organisers, journalists, partners and the general public, this new platform offers access to a large number of functions and a wide range of content: news about the class, races, info about the skippers, the 2018-2021 championship calendar, as well as access to the media section, where you can view and downloadrights free photos and videos. Note too the Replay tracker brought to you by Géovoile, which enables you to run through all the official races in the championship. This new website was developed by the Azimut company in coordination with the Ultra Violet and Be-Poles (graphic design) agencies.