The final dress rehearsal before the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre, the Défi Azimut - Lorient Agglomération brought together the cream of the IMOCA class, with 34 boats lining up at the start of the 600-mile race in the Bay of Biscay. Justine and Julien confirmed that they can compete with the best, and that ocean racing is not just about pure speed. With an impeccable track, a great deal of physical commitment and a boat that is always at 100% capacity, they have achieved a remarkable result, which is very encouraging for the future.
Last Saturday, the Jujus were all smiles on the pontoons of Lorient La Base. Back from the 48-hour Offshore race, the main course of the Défi Azimut, their 6th place earned the respect of all their competitors. After 600 miles sailed in very bracing conditions, a true rehearsal for the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, Justine and Julien were able to savor the fact that they had overtaken many of the newer boats, and that Teamwork was just outside the top five, with only five minutes separating them from Initiatives-coeur (Davies-Bouttell), another brilliant mixed double-handed entry.
Sixth place was also Justine's position last year in the Défi Azimut 2022, for her first solo race. The same result this year, with several new boats entering the IMOCA class, is undoubtedly proof that Teamwork has never stopped progressing. "She's a great boat. She goes fast and in strong winds, she's very healthy, which perhaps makes it a little easier for us in difficult conditions. And that's just it, the seas were rough and the conditions very changeable on this race, so we had to keep adjusting all the time," explained Justine at the finish.
Joyful, of course, but not boastful - that's not the house style! The feeling of a job well done prevailed, and Justine also emphasized "the excellent complementarity of the duo she forms with Julien". An essential factor in performance, as confirmed by Julien himself: "In these little races, everyone has to be at the top of their game. I watch where we're going and Justine keeps the boat going at full speed. We talk a lot, and when one of us has a little slump in his area of expertise, he finds support from the other. The duo works really well together, and that's our strong point.
Nice track, good speed, top reliability
After a night's rest, the IMOCA boats were due in Lorient harbor on Sunday for a day of Runs, originally scheduled for Wednesday but postponed due to hostile weather conditions. The rules of the exercise couldn't be simpler, a sort of nautical equivalent of the kilometer throw for skiers: a wet course crosswind, a distance of 1.2 miles to cover, and may the best man win! With guests on board, helmeted for the occasion, Justine and Julien confirmed their good performance of the previous two days. On this exercise in pure speed, they made it through to the final, where the twelve best IMOCA racers competed. It was another good day," exclaimed Justine at the prize-giving ceremony in Lorient La Base. Reaching the finals was a great sporting achievement, and sharing this moment with the guests, showing them what energy an IMOCA launched at full speed represents, is really great! It's true that, with this wind and a good chop, we were a bit on the limit, but we were careful and everything went well.
The end of the Défi Azimut, the second event of the season after the Rolex Fastnet Race. After a technical week during which Justine and Julien's team will have the satisfaction of finding Teamwork in perfect condition, a training course at the Pôle Finistère Course au large in Port-La-Forêt is scheduled for early October. A few more days of training are on the agenda, and then it's time to think about the delivery trip to Le Havre, where the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre village opens its doors on October 20. The Transat is a completely different exercise," concludes Julien. In Lorient, we finished first in the league of chasers! There are the four untouchables up front who are in another galaxy, but behind them, there's a match on, and this sixth place is at the top of the objectives we could have aspired to. Now it's up to us to repeat the experience on the Atlantic!