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Defi Azimuth Provide Good Evaluation On Next Gen IMOCA's


  • Defi Azimuth Provide Good Evaluation On Next Gen IMOCA's

    After a quiet start in the early afternoon, the fleet of 28 IMOCAs has picked up the pace considerably in the middle of the Bay of Biscay.

    After a quiet start in the early afternoon, the fleet of 28 IMOCAs has picked up the pace considerably in the middle of the Bay of Biscay. At the front of the pack, the leaders are still neck and neck, with 11th Hour Racing heading the TOR group (The Ocean Race) and Apivia setting the pace for the solo sailors. However, with the wind clearly building and sail changes expected, tonight may see some of the boats extend away from their rivals.

    “The wind is only going to get stronger. Those at the front of the pack in these ‘48 Heures’ will have the advantage!” warned the skippers this morning, dockside. With less than 8 knots of breeze on the start line, those IMOCAs latching onto fresh breeze to get around the tip of Ile de Groix had the edge, conjuring up some fantastic images around the Pen Men lighthouse.

    Among the 24 solo sailors, Charlie Dalin on APIVIA took less than an hour to move up to the head of the fleet, whilst other boats like Holcim - PRB (Kevin Escoffier) and Hublot (Alan Roura) paid the price for a start to leeward of the line and already lamented a 4-mile deficit after an hour and a half of racing...

    Among the four IMOCAs sailing in crewed format (The Ocean Race ranking), Biotherm, which was late over the line, quickly got back into the match and on the hunt behind 11th Hour Racing Team and Malizia-Seaexplorer, which were neck and neck.

    With the breeze gradually filling in over the course of the afternoon, there was a great deal of jockeying for position among the boats with daggerboards and the foilers, which were beginning to get up on the plane at over 15 knots. Getting off to a very good start, Louis Duc (Fives Lantana Environnement) and Benjamin Ferr? (Monnoyeur - Duo for a job) quickly traded places with Charlie Dalin, who was leading the attack, J?r?mie Beyou (Charal) also responding well in this first race on his new Manuard design. The duo was able to steal a march on a small group led by Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), Romain Attanasio (Fortinet Best Western) and Maxime Sorel (VandB Monbana Mayenne). With conditions still shifty, everyone was being careful with their trajectories, including Justine Mettraux (TeamWork), who’s right back in the action.

    With the breeze gradually lifting, the IMOCAs were beginning to luff up above the direct course this evening, before a scheduled gybe in the middle of the night. As the skippers prepare to grant themselves a first little nap, each of them will be wondering about whether to switch headsail to make good headway along the route and line themselves up for waypoint 1, some 220 miles from Lorient. “Fluffing a manoeuvre is a major in solo sailing,” explained our consultant Christopher Pratt during the live coverage of the start. “It can sometimes pay off to keep up as much of your original sail area from the start as you can, even if it means not performing quite so well. It’ll all depend on the strength of the wind and the timing.”

    On the IMOCAs that make up the TOR group though, there’s no questions to be asked and all the nocturnal manoeuvring will be a valuable lesson in crew cohesion. That’s exactly what these IMOCA teams were after as they prepare to set sail on The Ocean Race in mid-January.

    See you tomorrow morning offshore of the Principality of Asturias, where the virtual waypoint 1 will reveal the initial hierarchy after 200 miles of racing.

    Today at 22h30 min, skipper Kojiro Shiraishi onboard DMG MORI Global One has decided to come back to Lorient for personal reasons. He was sailing in the Defi Azimut with photographer Thomas Deregnieaux. The skipper and the photographer are both fine and the boat has no problems at all.

    Kojiro is safely sailing back to Lorient. More information to come.

    In a steady N’ly wind, the 28 IMOCAs have screamed across the Bay of Biscay, with the leaders sweeping down onto waypoint 1 some three hours ahead of the routing. The more shifty breeze along the Spanish coast is still not conducive to rest, but there is a clear hierarchy in both classes.

    With the ‘Charlies’ heading each group, Dalin on APIVIA and Enright on 11th Hour Racing Team, they have a slight edge over their direct rivals as they attack the beat back up to Lorient, which is set to be more laborious as well as more tactical.

    Night echoes:

    Maxime Sorel (V and B - Monbana - Mayenne): “I’ve had a great start to the race, even though I had a few autopilot issues over the course of the night. I’ve managed to come up with some kind of alternative. It helms a lot less well, but it does helm, which is the important thing. I’m getting to know the boat a bit better. I have a few competitors around me, which means I can work on speed and trimming. I’m very happy. At the start, I didn’t think I’d be so close to the leading group so I’m lapping up this position! The race is far from over though, so we’ll need to hang on in there…
    We spent the whole night sailing under J0. A sail change was required at the bottom to switch to the large gennaker, but it would have involved flying it for such a short period that I don’t think anyone did it. After that, the wind was fluctuating quite a lot as we approached the mark (Azimut 1), with a fair few gybes to make. I’ve only gybed once. Others have gybed several times, but they must have wasted some time in the process. The gybe wasn’t that easy to position given the wind angles. Right now, we’re under J2 on a long reach with quite a bit of breeze. We’ve got around twenty knots, compared with the 14 on the forecast. It’s just dropped right away now so we’ve only got 10 knots. There are a few squalls, which means we have to be right on top of the trimming. I haven’t had much sleep so I’m a bit knackered after a pretty full-on start to the race. I could have rested better if I hadn’t broached due to my autopilot. In the early hours, at daybreak, there was between 16 and 19 knots, with peak speeds of 29 to 34 knots. The dragon was roaring, but I’m taking care of her!”

    Charlie Enright (11th Hour Racing Team): “The first night was perfect with pleasant conditions and a sea state, which wasn’t too much of a problem for making fast headway. The whole team was on the case for the sail changes. We switched over to the large gennaker, which was the right combination for the end of the tack. We’re often sailing lower than the boats in solo configuration as we’re constantly trimming with someone on the sheets at all times. Right now, we’re in a period of transition with an increasingly shifty transition. We tacked after the mark to latch onto better pressure on the left-hand side of the racetrack and we’re trying to sail as best we can. There are always minor details to improve on, but on the whole we’re very happy with this start to the race.”

    Tanguy Le Turquais (Lazare): “I’ve had a fantastic night. It was incredible! I’m just discovering the boat in race mode, and in solo format. It’s a bit different to the Figaro. Initially, I was watching everyone’s speeds to see who was gaining or losing 0.1 of a mile or 0.1 knots of boat speed. However, I soon grasped the fact that this is a different ball game and that I needed to change my points of reference and focus first and foremost on getting the boat making headway as best I can.
    I really enjoyed sailing downwind last night. It’s been exhilarating. I made some great manoeuvres and I’ve got into my rhythm.
    Right now, we’re making headway towards Azimut 2 in a slightly shifty breeze. I’m discovering the joys of adjustment in IMOCA. It’s pretty physical, but all’s well aboard.
    Last night, I didn’t manoeuvre much. Instead, I set the boat up pretty well, so I’d have as few sail changes as possible. I think I was among those who hoisted their large gennaker earliest yesterday, in the late afternoon, and I slipped up a little along the way. It wasn’t necessarily my best strategy. Benjamin Ferr?, my direct rival with straight daggerboards, was sailing a little higher, doubtless under Code 0, which is not a sail I have in my wardrobe. I was more conservative, but he’s not far ahead. The climb back up will be interesting and Damien (Seguin), the former owner of my boat, is just behind me. That means I’m not completely off the mark and it’s great to be in on the action, even though I’ve still got a lot to learn.
    The boat’s not making headway now so I’m going to have to get to work! I haven’t slept much. I’ve just nodded off for a few minutes in the cockpit. I’ll get some sleep when we’re close-hauled… It’s time to get back to trimming the boat now!”


    Tonight sees the two ‘Charlies’ still heading each group. American skipper Charlie Enright and his crew (11th Hour Racing Team) are leading the way after passing the Azimut 2 waypoint at 08:26 hours this Thursday morning, whilst Charlie Dalin, heading the fleet of solo sailors on APIVIA, followed suit one hour later.

    Since then, the IMOCA skippers have been making headway at a slower, laborious pace, with the vast majority now launched onto a beat. The ETA for the front runners is from 06:00 local time tomorrow morning for the 23 solo sailors still out on the racetrack after Japanese skipper, Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG MORI Global One) retired last night for personal reasons. Signed up for a longer course, which will take them on a slight detour via Penmarc'h, the four crews are due to make the finish from noon.

    As promised, this ‘48 Heures’ race in the D?fi Azimut-Lorient Agglom?ration began with a long downwind sprint with the competitors reaching the first mark at quite a lick after an exhilarating run. This was also true for those sailing their boats in race mode for the first time, like Samantha Davies, aboard her brand-new scarlet red Initiatives Cœur. “The sunset, an average speed of 26-27 knots… It was incredible! With Justine (Mettraux) only just behind me, and within sight of several boats, the drop down to the first mark was really nice,” explains the sailor, despite having to contend with water ingress aft, not far from the batteries for the electronics. Fortunately, it was more of a fright than anything and tonight she’s positioned in 7th place less than 30 miles from the head of the fleet.

    “The first 24 hours were pretty steady on a long stretch of downwind with a gybe that was difficult to time right. We knew that APIVIA’s used to sailing above her polars (speed estimates according to the conditions and points of sail), but there were lots of boats able to match that,” commented Hubert Lemonnier, Race Director. “The foilers clearly have the edge,” he adds.

    This evening, the hierarchy established on the water illustrates this gradual takeover, after a race start that saw a small group of boats with daggerboards able to keep pace downwind under spinnaker focused on VMG.

    Following the stretch of reaching in what was a shifty breeze both in terms of strength and direction between the waypoints of Azimut 1 and Azimut 2, the wrestling match between the leading foilers reached fever pitch as the first boats launched onto a beat for home. It’s achingly close tonight between the unshakeable APIVIA (Charlie Dalin) and LinkedOut (Thomas Ruyant), who are bunched within a handful of miles as per usual. However, the newbies can’t be discounted either: Charal (J?r?mie Beyou), and V and B-Monbana-Mayenne (Maxime Sorel) are poised to pounce just astern of them. It’s the same for Holcim - PRB (Kevin Escoffier), who’s made a fantastic comeback in the second wave. All of them have really been able to show what they’re made of out on the racetrack with peak speeds of between 29 and 34 knots overnight. All this merry band are making headway within ten miles of one another with less than 150 miles to the finish.

    On the tally of great performances, it’s essential to mention that of Monnoyeur-Duo for a job (Benjamin Ferr?), the first boat with daggerboards, which is hanging onto 8th place. Mission accomplished for the skipper who said this morning: “We’ve put on our finest speed goggles! I’ve just passed the Azimut 2 mark and after a slight tac-tac to reposition myself, I’ll launch onto a beat and try to catch my mate Attanasio. All’s well aboard!” This afternoon, he’s really holding his own ahead of several foilers, with Fortinet-Best Western (Romain Attanasio) and Groupe APICIL (Damien Seguin), as his closest rivals. Gentoo Sailing Team (James Harayda) is also sending it, despite being new to the circuit and has been well positioned since the start of the race.

    At 17:30 hours, Ollie Heer Ocean Racing (Ollie Heer) and (Guirec Soud?e), in 20th and 21st positions respectively, had just passed the Azimut 2 mark, so they too are now embroiled on a beat to the finish offshore of Lorient. “Upwind always involves twice the distance and three times the pain”, according to offshore racing lore, particularly at the back of the fleet where there’s a risk that the front runners will extend away…
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