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Fickle wind dominated the Hauraki Gulf


Fickle wind dominate the Hauraki Gulf

Shifty weather patterns and a lull in the wind meant that three of the four Louis Vuitton Cup matches scheduled for yesterday were abandoned.

LE DEFI AREVA started well against Team Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes at 12.05pm as planned but with changeable winds between 8 and 12 knots, the regatta was hardly off to an auspicious debut.

The entire race was disrupted by shifting wind patterns which both helped and hindered both teams. The first windward leg started in 10 knots of wind, but that soon dropped to 5 knots and in the second windward leg, there was barely a breath of wind: between 0 and 2 knots.

These changing conditions meant that the boats were unable to finish the leg in the requisite 45 minutes. Stars & Stripes, who were ahead at this point, rounded the mark 40 seconds too late, meaning forced postponement of the regatta.

Both boats sat virtually unmoving on the water until 4pm, waiting for the wind to pick up. At 4.01pm, the regatta between Team Dennis Conner and FRA 69 was definitively cancelled, as were those between American syndicates Oracle BMW Racing (USA-76) and OneWorld Challenge (USA-67) and also between GBR-Challenge (GBR-70) and Mascalzone Latino (ITA-72).

Only Prada and the Victory Challenge finished their regatta, with Prada taking the point after Sweden led for the majority of the race.

"It was a really tiring day – not physically but mentally", says Philippe Mourniac, navigator for LE DEFI AREVA. "With weather conditions like this, anything is possible. You can’t let your guard down for a minute – you have to be constantly on the ball, watching out for any clue that might help envisage possible scenarios for the race."

Tactician Luc Gellusseau agrees: "It was a long day for FRA 69 but we are not phased: we look forward to meeting Stars and Stripes under regular conditions at the end of this Round Robin."

The programme for tomorrow is as originally scheduled: LE DEFI AREVA will meet US heavyweight Oracle. Today’s match between FRA 69 and Stars and Stripes will take place during the reserve days at the end of Round Robin 1.

The crew list for the French team against Oracle tomorrow is as follows: Romain Troublé as bowman, Ronan Lucas as second bowman, Fabrice Blondel as mastman, Timmy Kröger in the pit, Eric Carret as sewer, Frédéric Lemaistre and Jean-Paul Levrel as grinders, Thierry Douillard and Dimitri Despierres as headsail trimmers, Sébastien Destremau as runner, Julien Cressant as mainsail grinder, Tanguy Cariou as mainsail trimmer and Sébastien Col as traveller. The afterguard comprises Luc Pillot as helmsman/skipper, Philippe Mourniac as navigator and Luc Gellusseau as tactician. 17th man tomorrow will be Mr. Pierre Grunmann from Liberation.


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