This morning, the teams were busy on the pontoons of Lorient La Base, which was packed solid with IMOCAs, preparing to head out to the race zone for the two-phase start - at 14:38 hours for four crews and at 15:06 hours for the 24 solo sailors – of the ‘48 Heures’ in the Défi Azimut.

With two similar courses, tailored specially to offer the teams every point of sail in the Bay of Biscay in what are forecast to be ideal conditions, everything’s lined up to give the exceptional line-up a top-class race. Impressions…

Jérémie Beyou (Charal): “Aside from the qualifier for the Route du Rhum, it’s the first race with the boat. My objective is to link from one course to the next without too many issues. There are no other aims in terms of result. We’ll have a bit of everything over this course, a bit of downwind, a bit of upwind. With the manageable conditions, we’ve been pretty spoilt for our debut. I’m going to try to make the most of it. I’m beginning to really get my bearings. The boat is very similar to the previous one in terms of the manoeuvring. In terms of reliability, the boat is brand-new, so inevitably there is always the odd surprise here and there. I’m just hoping that this won’t prevent me from completing the course without too many issues. In terms of outright performance though, I still have a massive amount of work to do to get her set up just right. In yesterday’s runs in the final, we were two seconds behind the fastest boat, because we hadn’t managed to get her into her groove straightaway. We have a lot of time on the water ahead of us before we can achieve that. These ‘48 Heures’ will be a great opportunity to rack up experience in this regard. Between races, I always have Franck (Cammas) with me to push me hard so I can quickly step up my game!” 

Justine Mettraux (TeamWork): “This is a first for me and it’s fair to say that I feel a little apprehensive and I’m keen to do well. Last night wasn’t exactly the best night’s sleep in my life. That doesn’t change with the passing years. These 48 hours in race format are good to get under your belt. I’ll be relieved once I’m into my race and I’ve spent the first night at sea. Conditions should be easier over the end of the course. I’m eager to get going and continue to learn on this IMOCA. I’m still at the beginning of my apprenticeship. There’s a fantastic line-up, the likes of which we rarely see, with some very experienced sailors and new boats which are bound to perform well even though they’re still quite young. The fleet is pretty diverse. There will be some separation between the different groups at the finish, but I’m sure there will be a series of matches within the match too.”

Maxime Sorel (V&B-Monbana-Mayenne): “The first race on this new boat and I can’t wait. Conditions are pretty good and it’s going to be very, very quick. Those who are very familiar with their boat will head off in front. We’re going to need to hang on tight to the leading pack from the get-go and try to maintain a pretty fast pace. It’s a rather nice programme for our first battle against the others. I’m just beginning to write the instruction manual for the boat and tame my dragon! We’re going to have to try to strike the right balance to sail a good race, without taking any risks I might regret. The main objective remains the Vendée Globe. Completing the Route du Rhum will enable me to qualify. My approach will be more as a company director with a team behind me, and if we break the boat we’ll put the campaign in danger. So yes, I’ll be careful too!”

Robert Stanjek (Guyot Environnement Team Europe): "We did a lot of offshore training last week, but it’s the first competition for this crew. We’re lucky to be able to come together and compete with a line-up like this, see the boats and what they can do. To my mind, the main objective of this race is to enable the crew to raise their game by staying focused on the navigation, the tactics and the teamwork. It’s an interesting and fairly simple course without much manoeuvring, which is a great way to start."

Samantha Davies (Initiatives Coeur): "I’m very happy to be in this race today, even though I’m not very familiar with this boat yet, as she’s fresh out of the box and is a lot more powerful than the last one. I’ve done a little bit of sailing on her, but only one night sail. There are always surprises with new boats, particularly technical ones, but I hope I can still complete the race. Fortunately, we have great weather conditions with a fairly moderate breeze at the start, which will gradually increase and enable me to test the boat’s potential." 

Kévin Escoffier (Holcim-PRB): “We’re going to need to be good at the start, make fast headway and make the right sail choices to avoid extra manoeuvring. We know that fluffing a manoeuvre in solo format over a short course is fatal. I was pretty pleased with the boat’s performance yesterday, though you’re always hoping for better when you’re competitive. With a one-month refit this summer, being in a race is always very positive, especially with a change of crew, but we’ve managed to adapt. Our focus remains on singlehanded sailing though, with a major race on the cards, the Route du Rhum, just a month and a half away.”