From September 19 to 24, Justine Mettraux and Julien Villion will be taking part in the Défi Azimut, the final event of the season before the Transat Jacques Vabre (start October 29).
This atypical event, held in Lorient, will this year be run in two acts, given the difficult weather conditions forecast for Wednesday: a 48-hour offshore race and speed runs. A new opportunity to position yourself in the IMOCA hierarchy and share the pleasure of sailing on Teamwork with our project partners at home.
It's back-to-school time for everyone, and the IMOCA boats are no exception!
The summer was a good one for the "Jujus", who were able to take advantage of a two-week vacation, "the first big break in a year and a half", notes Justine, who was able to recharge her batteries with her family, taking advantage in particular of the Swiss mountains, which she knows well. Green and red blood cells were also on Julien's agenda, in the South-West and then the Alps, for a rejuvenating break before the long autumn tunnel.
A studious September
The tunnel began at the end of August with a training course at the Pôle Finistère Course au Large in Port La forêt, an opportunity to carry out speed tests, rehearse maneuvers and race a 48-hour offshore course. Exactly the format that awaits Justine and Julien on the Défi Azimut Lorient Agglomération. Now in its 13th year, this atypical and convivial event is no exception to the rule that has made it such a success: giving IMOCA racers the opportunity to race at the highest level in the format that corresponds to the season's major race (double-handed this year), but also welcoming guests on board for the Speed Runs and Tour de Groix to share their passion. 35 IMOCA boats have signed up for what promises to be the dress rehearsal for the Transat Jacques Vabre.
This will be Justine's third Défi. She shone last year in her first solo race on the IMOCA Teamwork (6th), and the Swiss sailor is taking the event, which counts in the IMOCA Globe series rankings, very seriously: "We had very little preparation time before the Fastnet. So we're really looking forward to competing now that the boat is really up to speed. We know that we have a deficit compared to the new generation when it comes to taking off and sailing upwind. So we mustn't make any mistakes if we want to do well. Julien Villion has also taken this into account and is ambitious: "On paper, Teamwork should be around 10th place. But we're ticking a lot of boxes if we want to be the itching powder of the best and make it into the top five... That's the goal!
Under the sign of sharing
The Défi Azimut will be another stepping stone towards this season's major objective, the Transat Jacques Vabre, and if we look a little further ahead, the Vendée Globe 2024. But the event in Lorient will also be an opportunity to share the passion of the Jujus, who will be welcoming numerous guests to the pontoon and on board. The maximum number of people on board the Runs is set at eight. Taking into account the two co-skippers, the boat captain, the mediaman and the organizer's guest, there are still three places available. One of them will be reserved for Philippe Rey-Gorrez, managing director of Teamwork: "It's great that he can be with us," says Justine. He's more of a mountain man than a sailor, but the two environments are close, and it's always a pleasure to share what we experience on board the boat with people who are curious and passionate.
The countdown has already begun for this Défi Azimut, and everything will follow very quickly thereafter: "A technical week and a trip out on the water to check the hull, a final training course in Port La Forêt and then the delivery to Le Havre" explains Justine, who has the autumn schedule well in mind.
Défi Azimut program:
Thursday September 21: Start of the 48-hour double-handed offshore race Sunday September 24: Crewed speed runs.