Please select your home edition
C-Tech 2020 Tubes 728x90 TOP

The Défi Azimut - Lorient Agglomération: A proper contest and a worthy winner

by Ed Gorman / IMOCA Globe Series 20 Sep 2021 06:11 PDT 15-19 September 2021

You could hardly hope for a more dramatic race packed into less than two days at sea than we saw in the Défi Azimut-Lorient Agglomération 48-Hours classic, a contest that tested crews and produced another stellar performance at the front by Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat on APIVIA.

The beauty of the 48-Hours - the centrepiece of another very successful Défi Azimut-Lorient Agglomération rendez-vous in Lorient for the IMOCA Class and its suppliers - is that the race directors can place their waypoints perfectly to give a proper all-round test. And so it proved on a 550-mile circuit out into the northern Bay of Biscay.

The 14 double-handed IMOCA 60s went upwind, then downwind VMG and then back on a powerful reach to the finish, set between the Ile de Groix and the mainland coast, on a course that produced a thrilling battle for the minor places on the podium behind the all-conquering yellow and white APIVIA.

Having won the Rolex Fastnet Race in style last month, Dalin and Meilhat continued their dominance of the world's most powerful offshore monohulls in an impressively-optimised boat, deploying a deck-sweeper jib in the light upwind early stages that saw them build a lead of several miles that they never relinquished.

Dalin has spoken about how well his new partnership with Meilhat is working and, on this occasion, they never put a foot wrong in a race when - as they often say in sailing - the rich got richer. Apivia was fast on all points of sail and by the final leg was more than half way home as she flew on her foils, by the time her rivals got to the last mark.

In the end, Dalin and Meilhat won by the considerable margin of two hours after one day and nearly 16 hours at sea, over 11th Hour Racing Team-Alaka'i, sailed by the Swiss-British combination of Justine Mettraux and Simon Fisher. They got in just 17 minutes ahead of Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière on LinkedOut who, in turn, were just three minutes to the good on Louis Burton and Davy Beaudart on Bureau Vallée.

If Dalin and Meilhat caught the eye at the head of affairs, not far behind in terms of quality and competitiveness were Fisher and Mettraux who have now produced two podium finishes in their first two double-handed races on the old HUGO BOSS, having finished third in the Fastnet Race behind Charal and APIVIA.

Modest and easy-going, Fisher is a world class sailor and navigator with long experience in fully-crewed racing at the elite level and Mettraux has a reputation as a tenacious soloist and together they are proving a formidable force that will have serious winning chances in November's Transat Jacques Vabre.

On their heels Ruyant and Lagravière did well to recover from fifth at the final mark to steal the last place on the podium. This came after the LinkedOut pair had sorted a big crisis going downwind when they blew their spinnaker which got wrapped on the foils and on the propeller and, unbeknownst to them, pulled the prop-shaft out of the boat.

They were not the only team to deal with this sort of drama on a short course in which the sailors were pushing hard throughout and on which rest or sleep was a precious commodity for many of them.

On Fortinet-Best Western, Romain Attanasio and Sébastien Marsset also blew their spinnaker and it too ended up caught on the foils of the old Malizia II and had to be cut away. Earlier Attanasio and Marsset, who finished ninth behind Isabelle Joschke and Alain Gautier on MACSF in eighth place, holed their mainsail when the tack fitting for the J1.5 exploded under load in more than 20 knots of breeze.

Two boats were forced to abandon the contest. Manuel Cousin and Alexia Barrier on Groupe Sétin - 4MyPlanet broke a daggerboard, while the brand new 11th Hour Racing Malama - the first IMOCA to be designed and built with fully-crewed racing in mind - had to leave the racetrack when the tiller connection with the rudder bar broke. This was a disappointment for co-skippers Charlie Enright and Pascal Bidégorry amid high hopes for a boat that was very much the talk of the dockside at La Base marina in Lorient.

The 48-Hours is the last race before the TJV, which starts on November 7 from Le Havre, when the fleet will be joined, among others, by Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt on Charal - the defending Défi Azimut - Lorient Agglomération champions from 2020 - who were forced to sit this one out because of damage incurred on the Fastnet Race.

For the first time this 48-Hours classic counted for points in the new IMOCA Globe Series Championship with Dalin and Meilhat now in second place in the ranking behind Fisher and Mettraux. In third place comes Benjamin Dutreux who partnered with Damien Seguin on Groupe APICIL in the 48-Hours, finishing in 10th place, the first of two non-foilers to complete the course.

Ashore during the last week, the place has been buzzing with suppliers, contractors and race organisers - plus new potential partners for the IMOCA Class - getting together to talk about the future for a Class which is enjoying excellent health.

The Défi Azimut - Lorient Agglomération, which concludes with the Round the Ile de Groix Race today, is fast becoming not just a unique showcase regatta but a key annual forum for the IMOCA Class as it looks forward not just to the TJV but the Route du Rhum and The Ocean Race next year.

Rankings 2021

Runs Azimut

1- 11th Hour Racing Team - MALAMA (Charlie Enright - Pascal Bidégorry)
2- LinkedOut (Thomas Ruyant - Morgan Lagravière)
3- Groupe Sétin-4MyPlanet (Manuel Cousin - Alexia Barrier)

48 Heures Azimut

1- APIVIA (Charlie Dalin - Paul Meilhat)
2- 11th Hour Racing Team - ALAKA'I (Justine Mettraux - Simon Fisher)
3- LinkedOut (Thomas Ruyant - Morgan Lagravière)

Tour de L'Ile de Groix

1- LinkedOut (Thomas Ruyant - Morgan Lagravière)
2- APIVIA (Charlie Dalin - Paul Meilhat)
3- Initiatives-Cœur (Samantha Davies - Nicolas Lunven)

See all rankings here

Related Articles

Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland start highlights
The international fleet got away for the non-stop 1,805-mile race without incident The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race started from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line in Cowes at midday on Sunday 7th August. The international fleet got away for the non-stop 1,805-mile race without incident. Posted today at 6:00 am
Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race underway
The marathon has begun The 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race started on time from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line in Cowes at midday on Sunday 7th August. The international fleet got away for the non-stop 1,805-mile race without incident. Posted on 7 Aug
All set for Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race
All 30 teams attended the Skippers Briefing held at the RORC Clubhouse in Cowes The Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race starts tomorrow, Sunday 7th August. All 30 teams attended the Skippers Briefing held at the RORC Clubhouse in Cowes. Posted on 6 Aug
10 days to ANT ARCTIC LAB departure
Norbert Sedlacek Koch set for world extreme sailing record attempt Only 10 days from now, Skipper Norbert Sedlacek Koch will depart for his ANT ARCTIC LAB challenge, to sail around the world nonstop, single-handed, without assistance through all five oceans including the most dangerous oceans on the planet. Posted on 6 Aug
Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race preview
Thirty-two teams get set for the start on Sunday Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club every four years since 1976, it has been a non-stop unassisted race since 2006. In this modern version of the race, 78 teams have achieved the honour of finishing, 39 have failed. Posted on 3 Aug
Pip Hare wins Cowes Week Women's Day Trophy
Recognising the outstanding contribution, commitment, and achievements of women in sailing This evening solo round the world racing sailor Pip Hare was awarded the Cowes Week Women's Day Trophy, which recognises the outstanding contribution, commitment, and achievements of women in sailing. Posted on 2 Aug
11th Hour Racing sets off for Concarneau, France
After an incredible two months in Newport, Rhode Island 11th Hour Racing Team has set off from its homeport of Newport, Rhode Island bound for France, after two months of community engagement and racing in the State. Posted on 2 Aug
Sam Davies has had a long wait
"I am still getting better and am ready for the challenge of my first new boat" She has waited a long time for a new boat, but now she has it – a gleaming bright red Sam Manuard-designed flying machine, in the livery of Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque, and paid for by the same team of sponsors who funded her old one. Posted on 1 Aug
First day sailing for the new Malizia-Seaexplorer
A relief for Boris Herrmann Today, 30th July 2022 was Boris Herrmann and the team's first day sailing on the new Malizia - Seaexplorer - His reaction when stepping back on land this evening was, "this boat is fantastic, what a relief, just perfect!" Posted on 31 Jul
La Route du Rhum: 100 days left
Already a heightened sense of anticipation as record edition approaches Today Friday July 29, at 1302hrs CEST marks exactly 100 days before the start of the 12th edition of La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe. Posted on 29 Jul
Doyle Sails 2020 - Pure Brilliance 728x90 BOTTOMJ Composites 2022 - J99 FOOTERC-Tech 2021 SnuffAir 728x90 BOTTOM