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Tough Day In The Hauraki Gulf, Says Le Defi Areva

Press Release 22 - Saturday 5 October, Auckland


After a stunning debut against Luna Rossa (ITA-74) on the third day of racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup 2002, LE DEFI AREVA again experienced problems on the Hauraki Gulf today.

The French syndicate was a second ahead off the start-line at 12.30pm and remained even with a slight lead over the recently-embattled Italian team Prada for the first three minutes of racing. But when the wind direction shifted, the genoa ripped and a batten in the mainsail snapped, it was the French team who became embattled, losing 15 seconds by the first mark.

The Italians, renowned for their boat speed on the leeward stretch, were only able to gain another four seconds on LE DEFI AREVA on the second leg of the regatta. There were only four boat-lengths (19 seconds) between these passionate Latin rivals at the second mark, and the chase was on.

However, the third leg of the race was the undoing of LE DEFI AREVA today. In winds of up to 20 knots, Prada pushed back against the French team, blocking strong winds from the south-west and dominating the course. It was this shifty windward leg and a loose approach to the leeward mark that saw the French lose yet another spinnaker – this time in the water - and drop back 1.05 minutes to 1.24 minutes at the 4th mark.

LE DEFI AREVA was also slapped with a penalty for dragging the spinnaker onto the leeward mark, but was prevented from executing the penalty manoeuvre at the finish line firstly by strong wind gusts up to 27 knots and then by the premature approach of support boats. As a consequence, the French team has scored a D.N.F. or DID NOT FINISH. Had the French boat been able to finish correctly, the delta time would have been in the region of four minutes.

"Today was a difficult day", says tactician-skipper, Luc Pillot. "We started very strongly against the experienced Italians, but with the constant wind changes, sail problems, technical error and the umpire penalty to top it all off, we obviously lost ground."

Helmsman Philippe Presti agrees: "We took some big risks out there today and in hindsight, maybe we didn’t make the right decisions. The team was not functioning as a whole and there was definitely an element of human error. We will be looking to make some improvements before we meet with GBR tomorrow."

Pierre Mas, Sailing Manager for LE DEFI AREVA is unflinchingly positive: "Today is only the third of sixteen regattas – we still have thirteen points available to us and we know how many we need to enter into the quarter-finals as planned. We are pleased with our developing boat speed and know that we have to make the time to develop further. We have the potential to win the points we need", he said.

The crew list for the French team against GBR tomorrow is as follows: Romain Troublé as bowman, Gilles André as second bowman, Fabrice Blondel as mastman, Jean-François Rivalant in the pit, Eric Carret as sewer, Frederic Brousse and Stefan Fodor as grinders, Thierry Douillard and Dimitri Despierres as headsail trimmers, Fabrice Levet as runner, Julien Cressant as mainsail grinder, Tanguy Cariou as mainsail trimmer and Sébastien Col as traveller. The afterguard comprises Philippe Presti as helmsman, Philippe Mourniac as navigator and Luc Pillot as skipper. 17th man tomorrow will be Mr. Denis Harvey from TVNZ.

Other results from today’s racing: Alinghi (SUI 64) beat Mascalzone Latino (ITA 72) by 7.08 minutes; Swedish Victory Challenge (SWE 63) beat Stars and Stripes (USA 66) by 0.33 seconds and OneWorld (USA 67) beat Wight Lightning (GBR 70) by 3.22 minutes.


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