It is at 17:18 this Friday, in superb conditions in Lorient, that the race committee of the Azimut Challenge has released the 15 sailors engaged for the race of 24 hours alone. The menu of this 247-mile course promises to be varied with pretty reaching edges (crosswind) in the breeze where pure speed will prevail, and a more strategic phase upwind next night. For all competitors, sleep will be rare or nonexistent.
It is an understatement that they were impatient to get to the heart of the matter. The 15 sailors of the 2018 Azimut Challenge gnawed their brakes ahead of this 24-hour show, which they expect to learn a lot.

It was at 17:10 that the race committee launched the procedure (in 8 minutes) for a journey of 247 miles. The sailors feared this departure alone, with a fleet of 15 boats, a good wind from West / North-West of 18-20 medium knots and a formed sea. Competitors remained cautious and the first start was the right one. The sun was at the rendezvous, offering a superb light. Some skippers opted for high mainsail sailing, others were more cautious with a laugh in the GV.


Fabrice Amedeo, Louis Burton and Paul Meilhat were the fastest on the line, followed closely by the formidable Yann Eliès and Vincent Riou. Once the starting line was crossed, the 15 IMOCA spun full shot in the crosswind towards the waypoint "Azimuth 1", positioned at the latitude of Belle-Ile. Thirty minutes after the start, it was Yann Eliès, Vincent Riou and Jérémie Beyou who led the fleet, with speeds close to 20 knots. When they cross the first virtual mark, competitors will head for the "Azimuth 2" waypoint, 75 miles off the tip of Brittany. They will progress then upwind, in a wind softening. The wind will gradually give and strengthen in the night and it is in a good flow of South that competitors will reach the second mark. They will then enter a big edge of a hundred miles to the finish line. This final sprint, reaching in the strong wind, looks "wild" with very high speeds at the key, which will not displease the nine skippers engaged on foilers ... But the other sailors will have their say, as Paul Meilhat recalled this afternoon: "On a course of this format, there will be a match, that's for sure! It will be tight with an alternation of conditions and paces favorable to one then the other. "Suspense, so ... Note that a map ( ) updated every five minutes to track the progress of boats.

At 19:30, Jérémie Beyou contacted the race director Jacques Caraës to inform him of an electronic concern on board Charal. Without an autopilot or navigation tool, the skipper was forced to turn around and thus abandon the 24-hour race of the Azimut Challenge. He makes his way to his port of Lorient by his own means. The Charal team is going to repair the problems observed to participate in the runs on Sunday.