With less than two months to go before the start of the Vendée Globe, the IMOCA skippers are taking one last chance to measure themselves in the warm-up finale, the Défi Azimut.
The Défi Azimut is a competition born in the heart of the Lorient Sailing Valley (based in Brittany, France), the cradle of offshore racing and technology, and “a breeding ground for skills”, as Jean-Marie Corteville, creator of the Défi Azimut and President of Azimut, points out.
Created at the initiative of the IMOCA class, the Défi Azimut brings together the skippers of the Vendée Globe, and the Lorient based company Azimut, with the mission of combining performance, innovation, and strategy, in the image of what the Sailing Valley conveys. Since its launch in 2011, it has not denied its success and has brought together more than 70 sailors, including the winners of major competitions.
20 IMOCAs, with 15 foilers, are participating in the 2020 edition of the race. The race began on September 9th with the speed run, a pure speed trial along a 1.5-mile course. A spectacle to view from the shore, these runs are a chance for the teams to push their boats, sails, and spectators’ heartbeats to the limit.
Jérémie Beyou (Charal, defending champion), Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), Kevin Escoffier (PRB), Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire), Sébastien Simon (Arkea-Paprec), Charlie Dalin (Apivia), Isabelle Joschke (MACSF), Armel Tripon (L’Occitane en Provence), Alan Roura (La Fabrique), Romain Attanasio (Pure – Best Western), Fabrice Amedeo (Newsrest Arts & Fenêtres) and Giancarlo Pedote (Prysmian Group) are among the competitors of the 10th edition of the Défi Azimut and are equipped with North sails.
Whether aboard their latest generation foiling monohull or older boats, the IMOCA skippers look forward to this post-summer challenges as they resume their regular training schedules, The Défi Azimut is comprised of three major events over five days:
The Speed Run: Crewed speed trials to try and set the best time. Several possible attempts (between 2 and 4) for each of the crews composed of a maximum of eight people.
48H Azimut: The flagship race within the event, the 48 hour, 500-mile single-handed race allows for a media man/woman on board to allow the public to experience the daily life of the sailors.
Chrono Tour du Groux: The record of the round the island of Groix with a reduced crew. The record is held by French sailor Vincent Riou in 2015, who covered 17 miles in 1 hr 8 min 10 seconds.
This varied and intense race format will allow the performance of the boats to be evaluated and serves as a showcase to measure the technological differences. For 2020, the technology challenge is paying attention to the foils, and how they interact with the daggerboards, which continue to prove their worth. All eyes will also be on the skipper’s choice of sails which is just as important as the adjustment of the foils, especially when reaching and downwind.
Such a high-caliber race offers the competing teams the opportunity to carry out final equipment checks, make the final adjustments, and validate their choices before the big show. It will also allow sailors who were unable to compete in the Arctic Vendée last July to put their cards on the table and assess their level.
“Every time the Kiwis, Australians, or English pass through here, they are impressed. The Défi Azimut is equal to Lorient, which has become the world center of ocean racing,” commented Malouin skipper Kevin Escoffier (PRB), 2nd in the 48-hour race in 2019.
Sanitary measures will be put in place to ensure the smooth running of the event. Fans can stay up-to-date on the action here.