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Ocean Safety 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Notes from the Défi Azimut 48H Azimut

by Défi Azimut 17 Sep 2022 18:05 BST 14-17 September 2022
48H Azimut © Vincent Curutchet / Défi Azimut - Lorient Agglomération

Each the undisputed winners in their category, Charlie Dalin and Charlie Enright certainly made their mark on the 48H Azimut.

Just windy enough to be representative, but not too excessive with just six weeks to go until the start of the Route du Rhum, these 500 miles were full of valuable lessons.

Apivia and 11th Hour Racing Team a cut above the rest

One, two... and three! Following on from the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race and the Vendée Arctique Les Sables d'Olonne, Charlie Dalin once again pretty much led the way from beginning to end. Still untouchable upwind, but faster downwind, the skipper of Apivia is impressive. This morning his rivals were all unanimous in their praise of his performance, including Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Jérémie Beyou (Charal), who complete the podium. However, it's interesting to note that his wake wasn't quite as smooth as it looks, as the winner explained on setting foot on the dock at daybreak: "I wanted to really set the rhythm and sail as I would in the first 48 hours of a Route du Rhum. I made multiple sail changes and had virtually no sleep." Utterly committed, Charlie almost got too greedy when he reached the waypoint at Azimut 2, ending up carrying too much sail aloft in a breeze that became shifty as the fleet closed on the Cantabrian Mountains. "A gust hit and I did too big a bear away to roll in the J0 (large genoa) and then did a massive broach, with the keel on the other side and the rudder out of the water!" Nothing was broken in the process though, so it's just an 'error' worth mulling over for the longer races...

Three hours later, it was time for more champagne at Lorient La Base, when 11th Hour Racing Team docked in. Winner of the other ranking in this 48H Azimut, Charlie Enright's crew finished even further ahead of their rivals with a lead of over three hours in front of the second boat Guyot Environnement-Team Europe (Benjamin Dutreux), which managed to overtake Malizia-Seaexplorer (Boris Herrmann) in the early morning.

It was a fine demonstration with less than four months until the start of The Ocean Race, and not all that surprising given the extra level of preparation racked up by 11th Hour Racing Team in relation to their three rivals. Among them, Biotherm unfortunately had to throw in the towel this morning and headed back to their port of registry to repair a broken winch support...

New boats performing well

It was the great unknown in this 12th edition of the Défi Azimut. Would the six new boats manage to keep pace? Though the bracing but mild conditions in this 48H race were ideal for a debut, it's fair to say that the new generation was awesome. Three of the five new IMOCAs sailed in solo format finished in the top 5, Samantha Davies' Initiatives Cœur not far behind (7th).

Third, Jérémie Beyou declared himself to be "happy to have been in on the action without any serious technical glitches," on Charal. Right at the very beginning of the learning curve, the Manuard design clearly has some oomph, "but she's very demanding to trim" according to her skipper. It's a similar scenario for Maxime Sorel (V and B - Monbana - Mayenne), who was still right in the match and Kevin Escoffier (Holcim - PRB), who made a dazzling comeback.

Finally, on Malizia-Seaexplorer, the atypical design shaped by Boris Herrmann proved that she could cut it with the rest, especially during the first downwind leg where the VPLP design remained in contact with leader 11th Hour Racing Team for a long way.

The rookies on a flier!

For many of the 28 competitors, this 48H Azimut was their first race. For some it was their first time racing an IMOCA too. Such was the case for Tanguy Le Turquais (Lazare), who sailed a fantastic race on his Finot Conq design, first daggerboard boat and 9th overall.

Others were sailing solo on their boat for the first time, like Justine Mettraux (TeamWork). Far from an IMOCA novice having raced a full season with 11th Hour Racing Team, the Swiss sailor once again banged the point home that she's a force to be reckoned with thanks to her determination and ability to perform well. She finished sixth on the ex-Charal, overtaking Samantha Davies (Initiatives Cœur) just a few boat lengths from the finish line.

As we go to press, four competitors are still out on the racetrack, ensnared in a dying breeze and on older generation boats.

Ranking 48h Azimut solo

1. APIVIA (Charlie Dalin) à 6h 48min 50s
2. LinkedOut (Thomas Ruyant) +48min 36s (écart au premier)
3. Charal (Jérémie Beyou) +57min 32s
4. V and B - Monbana - Mayenne (Maxime Sorel) +1h 31min 15s
5. Holcim-PRB (Kevin Escoffier) +1h 44min 23s
6. TeamWork (Justine Mettraux) +2h 19min 38s
7. Initiatives Coeur (Samantha Davies) +2h 21min 22s
8. Fortinet - Best Western (Romain Attanasio) +3h 11min 20s
9. Lazare (Tanguy Le Turquais) +4h 37min 18s
10. Prysmian Group (Giancarlo Pedote) +4h 49min 55s
11. Monnoyeur - Duo for a Job (Benjamin Ferré) +4h 51min 41s
12. Groupe APICIL (Damien Seguin) +4h 57min 25s
13. Hublot (Alan Roura) +4h 58min 21s
14. MACSF (Isabelle Joschke) +4h 59min 20s
15. Fives - Lantana Environnement (Louis Duc) +5h 40min 40s
16. COMMEUNSEULHOMME Powered by ALTAVIA (Eric Bellion) +6h 5min 48s
17. Nexans - Art&Fenêtres (Fabrice Amedeo) +6h 13min 14s
18. Imagine (Conrad Colman) +6h 14min 19s
19. Gentoo Sailing Team (James Harayda) +7h 42min 59s
DMG MORI-Global One (Kojiro Shiraishi) - abandon

Still racing at 5.30pm

20. (Guirec Soudée) à 4.4nm de l'arrivée
21. Ollie Heer Ocean Racing (Ollie Heer) +2.3 nm
22. Groupe SÉTIN (Manuel Cousin) +4.9 nm
24. Szabi Racing (Szabolcs Weöres) +22.8 nm

Ranking 48h Azimut The Ocean Race

1. 11th Hour Racing Team (Charlie Enright) à 9h 34min 58s
2. Guyot environnement - Team Europe (Benjamin Dutreux) +3h 10min 2s
2. Malizia - Seaexplorer (Boris Herrmann) +3h 28min 7s
Biotherm (Paul Meilhat) - abandon

The race tracker is available here.

Today's quotes

Charlie Dalin (Apivia), 1st In The 48h Azimut

"This victory has a very good flavour! I'd been really looking forward to this race with the presence of the new boats prior to the arrival of the new APIVIA next year. This 48h Défi Azimut rounded off with a lot of positives. I really enjoyed this course designed by Race Management. Above all though, as everyone was making their final little tweaks, it was a proper dress rehearsal for the Route du Rhum. I'm happy. We've made a 5-7% gain in speed in certain conditions. That's the good news from the Défi Azimut. We've managed to find the keys to going even faster. This is particularly true downwind, where we were kind of on a level pegging before, but here we found solutions for sailing a tad above the rest on that point of sail... I wasn't saving my energy either, with a fair few sail changes, which might not be evident from the cartography, but they enabled me to keep Thomas and Jérémie at bay. It augurs well for the Route du Rhum, because there's a lot of downwind in that transatlantic race.

We had some very quick sections and I was able to really push APIVIA. It was nice, even though I went a bit off-piste at the second mark, but that happens to everyone (laughs). I came up to Azimut 2 in a very shifty and fairly light breeze under J0 (large genoa) and full main. I rounded the mark and then a gust blew up, but it was too late. The wind picked up to 19 knots, upwind, with a sail area that's not really recommended. I did a big ease and a bear away but I went too far! The boat broached right over with the rudder out of the water and the keel on the other side... You'll get the picture from François Dourlen's videos... !

On the beat back up, I was in control, but it was important not to neglect positioning. The breeze was fairly uniform across the race zone. There were some slight discrepancies between the forecasts and the reality, so we had to stay focused. On the return leg I managed to get a little bit of rest, but I really gave it the intensity that this race requires.

So, what's next? There are some training sessions still to do at the Pôle Finistère Course au Large before the start of the Route du Rhum. I still have some progress to make to avoid mistakes like the one at Azimut 2. I'm happy to have had the chance to take part and tweak my preparation so I'm at the top of my game on 6 November."

Thomas Ruyant (Linkedout), 2nd In The 48h Azimut

"It was another great race and a great battle on the water with Charlie and Jérémie. Over the second half of the course, we saw APIVIA just take off. I'm happy though. It's my first 2nd place in IMOCA in solo format, which is a victory for me! There's still room to improve and the year's not over...

The boat makes very fast headway downwind, which is the point of sail where there's the least difference between us. In terms of outright speed, all three of us are pretty similar, but I lost a fair amount of ground during the sail changes. After that, Charlie is very quick on a fast reach and a close reach. I tried to reposition myself slightly, which worked pretty well, except against APIVIA, which is just cheeky at that point of sail (laughs). I got precious little sleep, 1 hour over this fine 48H course, but I love this state of being in another orbit after a race!

Yes, I have another boat in build, which has been imagined with all the team and is bang on schedule. For now though, I'm very pleased with this LinkedOut, which I get a lot of enjoyment out of and right now my thoughts are on the next Route du Rhum. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to continue sailing right up to the Rhum, so I don't lose the rhythm I have with the boat and I can optimise the many minor details still left to tweak. The boat is very honed and it's hard to make her any better. I have a fine machine and a great team, everything I need to be ready for the start on 6 November. I can't wait!"

Jérémie Beyou (Charal), 3rd In The 48h Azimut

"The aim was to complete the course without too many glitches. I had a few incidents aboard but, overall, I'm very pleased. I'd hoped to be in on the action and that's what I did. To stand a chance of beating Thomas and especially Charlie, you have to sail an absolutely flawless race. That isn't the case yet, but I fully intend to stay on the podiums in the upcoming races.

It was my first race with this boat. She handled well but she's very sensitive to the slightest tweak with the trimming. I was fairly at ease on certain points of sail and I was kind of finding my bearings in relation to the others. She's a boat capable of going very fast, but you really need to be trimming her constantly. We're on page one of discovering this boat and we've got off to a pretty good start.

The boat has rudders which are quite unique and very big, requiring additional trimming. There's more trimming required of the foils, the keel and the ballast too... All this trimming has a very big influence and the slightest degree of modification has repercussions. I had a few issues with my autopilot and we were slamming quite a lot at times. As a result, I didn't get much rest as I'm not yet familiar with the boat's noises, so I stayed awake, poised to intervene quickly. All in all though, I was able to give it my best shot and once I've nailed all the trimming, I'll be more confident."

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