Please select your home edition
Edition
Blokart SW 728 x 90 TOP

Défi Azimut 48 Hours: A fascinating first outing for The Ocean Race IMOCAs

by Ed Gorman / IMOCA Globe Series 18 Sep 2022 22:09 PDT
The Défi Azimut 48 Hours © Gauthier Lebec / V and B-Monbana-Mayenne

The Défi Azimut-Lorient Agglomération 48 Hours served up the perfect short test for the 2022 IMOCA fleet, as the boats heading for The Ocean Race, and the majority in solo configuration, took on a triangle course in the Bay of Biscay.

In the four strong fully-crewed fleet, tackling a 545-nautical mile course, the 11th Hour Racing Team crew on board Malama, skippered by the American sailor Charlie Enright, dominated from start to finish. In the solo division, it was another uncompromising display by Charlie Dalin on APIVIA, on a slightly shorter 505-mile track.

The races started with a nice medium-air downwind leg to the Azimut 1 mark, 215 miles southwest of Lorient, before the boats then reached in light winds to Azimut 2 - 200 miles due south of Lorient - before heading upwind to the finish in variable winds that increased for a while overnight.

Enright was delighted with the way his boat and crew fared in their first competitive contact with some of their rivals in The Ocean Race fleet. That contest saw Guyot Environnement-Team Europe, skippered by Benjamin Dutreux, finish second, just 18 minutes ahead of Boris Herrmann's Malizia-SeaExplorer in third, while Paul Meilhat and his team on Biotherm retired.

"We feel happy for sure - we had a good start and a good finish and we sailed pretty clean," said Enright at La Base marina in Lorient after the finish. "It was nice to line up with the other boats in our division, but nice to have the (solo) boats too and see if we could figure out some stuff they had going on.

"We do all our training by ourselves," he added, "so we need to check in with the other boats and ratify what we think and make sure we are headed in the right direction and we still learned a lot on the boat."

For Paul Meilhat and his crew, it had been a mad rush to get the brand new Biotherm ready for the start and, in the end, they had to abandon the race short of the finish and head for Port-la-Forêt because of problems with the winch unit in the cockpit.

But Meilhat, who is now getting ready to head off on his qualifier for the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, said he was pleased to have sailed the majority of the course. "These two days of sailing have been precious and enriching for the crew," he said. "It was essential to be able to participate in the 12th Azimut challenge and these 500-miles of racing were very positive for all of us."

In the 24-strong solo division, Charlie Dalin took the lead early on. He never looked back, despite having Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut, who was second 48 minutes behind him, and Jérémie Beyou on the new Charal 2, who was third - another 9 minutes back - on his tail.

This was Dalin's third consecutive victory in the Class, following his win in this year's Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race in May and the Vendée Arctique in June. And the APIVIA skipper enjoyed every minute of it, as he and Ruyant used their older boats to good effect once again.

"It's a race I was looking forward to because there were a lot of new boats," he said. "It's the last rehearsal before the Route du Rhum, so everyone has made their final adjustments and been able to test them, so we have too. Everything is pretty much validated and there were a lot of positives about this race and I had a lot of fun."

On her first competitive outing Charal 2 performed well for Beyou, as did Maxime Sorel's stunning looking V And B-Monbana-Mayenne which was fourth, finishing just 35 minutes behind Charal. Then it was Kevin Escoffier, also on his first race on Holcim-PRB. He was followed by the Swiss sailor Justine Mettraux who had an excellent debut race on Teamwork, with Sam Davies following hot on her heels on the new Initiatives-Coeur.

Escoffier had a great time in sparkling conditions out on the Bay of Biscay and enjoyed pacing himself against fellow St Malo skipper Sorel. "I gave it my all and we sailed with Maxime, which was nice," said the Holcim-PRB skipper who will be leading an Ocean Race campaign after the Rhum. "We know Maxime's boat well...it is a very good boat and Maxime is a good sailor from St Malo. It allowed me, with Holcim-PRB, to calibrate myself against one of the best boats in the fleet." He added that he managed to get some sleep by setting his boat up so that she could travel at up to 30 knots without being too stressed.

Behind him Sam Davies was trying to learn her new bright red racing machine after less time than Escoffier to prepare for its first race. "It was so good, the boat is amazing," said Davies with a big smile at the finish. "I'm less scared of it now. I was in the game. It was going super-fast, it was beautiful. At the start we were (going fast) and we were side-by-side with Justine. Then I had a few problems. I filled the boat with water - nothing serious - which slowed me down. I'm starting to understand my boat well, so I was able to attack while trying to keep an eye on everything," added the British navigator who admitted she did not get a wink of sleep throughout the race.

In the non-foiling fleet, the first to finish was Tanguy Le Turquais on Lazare in ninth position, while Benjamin Ferré was the next best finisher in 11th place on Monnoyeur-Duo for a Job. Of the 24 starters all were on course to finish but one, DMG MORI Global One skippered by Kojiro Shiraishi, who retired in the early stages.

The 2022 Défi Azimut concludes on Sunday with the traditional fun race around the Île de Groix, which looks set to take place in light winds and glorious sunshine.

Related Articles

GUYOT environnement - Team Europe Leg 2 Day 4
A range of strategic choices in The Ocean Race The first balancing act of the second leg of The Ocean Race enters its decisive phase on Saturday. The teams have made their decisions on how far west to sail and then jibe south to enter the Doldrums. Posted on 28 Jan
Richomme salutes Meilhat and the crew on Biotherm
As the new Paprec Arkéa arrives in Lorient The buzz in Lorient right now is about the brand new Paprec Arkéa IMOCA, which has arrived at La Base in Lorient ahead of its launch on February 22nd, the first boat in the Class for Yoann Richomme, one of France's top solo racers. Posted on 28 Jan
The Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 4: Lining up
The IMOCA sailors are picking their slot to line up for the doldrums crossing Stakes are high as The Ocean Race fleet begins to settle into position for crossing the equator and passing through the doldrums (officially the Intertropical Convergence Zone or ITCZ). Posted on 28 Jan
GUYOT environnement - Team Europe Leg 2 Day 3
Step by step towards the equator For GUYOT environnement - Team Europe, this was combined with a successful race to catch up after getting caught in the wind shadow of São Vicente on the first night of the second leg and falling 30 nautical miles behind. Posted on 27 Jan
Upping the ante for the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race
James Boyd reviews some of the latest hardware built or acquired especially for this year's race Names on the Fastnet Challenge Cup include Jolie Brise, Dorade, Myth of Malham, Carina II, Pen Duick III, Condor, Nicorette, Morning Glory, Nokia, Rán 2, Night and Day, Courrier Du Leon and Lann Ael 2, plus the American VO70 Wizard and the Sunrise. Posted on 27 Jan
The Ocean Race Leg 2: Cat and mouse game
Taking on a slow burn with the IMOCA fleet inching southwest towards the doldrums Lighter conditions doesn't mean easier racing as the IMOCA fleet finds itself constantly shifting gears, making sail changes and gybing as the teams zig-zag southwest towards the equator and the doldrums. Posted on 27 Jan
GUYOT environnement - Team Europe Leg 2 Day 2
The first night of the second leg in The Ocean Race was a search for the wind The first night of the second leg in The Ocean Race was a search for the wind. The fleet of five IMOCAs tried to escape the lee of the Cape Verdean island of São Vicente after setting off into the night. Posted on 26 Jan
The Ocean Race Leg 2 Day 2: Slowly sliding south
The fleet had a slow night, gybing south from Cabo Verde It's been a tense first night as the IMOCA fleet has sailed south, away from Mindelo and towards the uncertainty of the Doldrums. Posted on 26 Jan
Team Malizia becomes a member of the IWSA
The sailing team is currently competing in The Ocean Race 2022-23 Team Malizia, the professional sailing team led by German skipper, Boris Herrmann has become the first offshore sailing team to become a member of the International Windship Association (IWSA). Posted on 26 Jan
Leg two starts with difficult choices ahead
Conditions are slow in The Ocean Race but tactically challenging After being buffeted by strong trade winds for the duration of the short stopover, the waters off Mindelo, Cabo Verde were relatively calm on Wednesday for the start of Leg 2 of The Ocean Race. Posted on 25 Jan
Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTERBlokart SW 728 x 90 BOTTOMSelden 2020 - FOOTER