Test run at the Azimut
On Friday at 1800 hours, five of the eight competitors registered in the ‘Ultimates’ class of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe will set sail from Lorient for a 260-mile combat in race mode during the Défi Azimut. “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the start of the Défi Azimut for around 20 hours at sea in a very similar configuration to that of the Route du Rhum. I say very similar solely because we’re sailing in ‘mock solo’ format, with a passive crew aboard who is essentially there for safety reasons as we’ll be making headway close to the coast with the significant amount of shipping we’re familiar with in this sector,” explains the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild.Though the event format is a far cry from the exercise which awaits the solo sailors in the Route du Rhum, Sébastien Josse was keen to compete in this regatta to round off his race preparation: “On paper, this race has very little to do with the Route du Rhum, particularly given that the weather conditions are forecast to be light, but it remains an interesting prospect: crossing swords with your adversaries, preparing for a close-contact start in solo configuration and also racking up ever more miles and experiences. Four of my seven future rivals in the Rhum will be there. With this in mind and with a month to go until the off, this Défi Azimut will be a good little test run.”
Indeed, over the 260-mile course concocted by Jacques Caraës, Race Director of the Défi Azimut, Sébastien Josse and the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild will get the opportunity to pit themselves against the 70-foot trimarans Oman Sail and Paprec Recyclage, as well as the 80-foot Prince de Bretagne and one of the firm favourites of the Route du Rhum, the maxi-trimaran Banque Populaire VII. Of note is that this boat now helmed by Loïck Peyron, following Armel Le Cléac’h’s withdrawal due to injury, is none other than the boat that won the 2010 edition of the race in the hands of Franck Cammas.
Express pit stop in Lorient
From Monday 29 September, the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will be lifted out of the water and moved into the discreet surroundings of the Gitana Team’s workshops for around ten days. There the team will give the platform a final thorough check-up (checking of the fittings, hydraulics and the hull below the waterline…). Whilst a great many of his adversaries favoured summer refits, Sébastien Josse opted to hold onto his steed for as long as possible so as to maximise his time on the water and the number of training sessions: “I wanted to rack up as much time on her as possible and feel entirely at ease with the boat before returning her to the yard, knowing that nothing structural would be done in any case. Given the high pressure conditions we’ve been experiencing since the start of September, I’m not dissatisfied that I scheduled in this later yard time just weeks before the start. This summer, I was able to make my qualification official in the steady wind and complete some 24 to 48-hour training sessions in bracing conditions. Today I feel calm and confident. Technically the boat matches our original criteria on every level, I validated the sports programme that I set myself and I can now focus on my physical preparation to ensure that I’m as honed as possible for the race start.”
The Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild is set to return to the liquid element around 10 October, a fortnight before her scheduled arrival at the foot of the ramparts in Saint Malo.