Sébastien Simon on Arkea-Paprec was certainly the highest-flying and most extreme looking of the IMOCAs at Wednesday’s Defi Azimut speed runs, but it was Armel Tripon on L’Occitane en Provence who stole the show. Sailing the 1.2 mile straight-line course in a time of 3:05 at an average speed of 23.35 knots, the new scow bow (to the extent that the rules will allow) Sam Manuard design was close to two knots faster than anybody else.
Second place was Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut, while the Juan K designed Arkea Paprec was third. Charlie Dalin’s APIVIA and Samantha Davies’ Initiatives-Couer tied for fourth place, while Jeremie Beyou on Charal – last year’s winner – was relegated to sixth place.
Certainly not an event to be taken too seriously, the speed runs are a laid back affair with team patrons and journalists oftentimes onboard. Still, it’s an impressive performance for L’Occitane, who showed blinding pace at the very start of July’s Vendée – Arctique race before retiring early with damage.
Starting Thursday and already underway is a 500-mile triangular-course solo race, which will serve as the final major speed test before November’s Vendée Globe. 18 IMOCAs – 13 foilers and 5 conventional – will take on the two day tune up. – Ronnie Simpson.