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David meets Goliath - FRA 69 takes on Oracle

Press Release 25 - Thursday 10 October, Auckland

David meets Goliath - FRA 69 takes on Oracle BMW Racing

In a valiant struggle of fitting proportions, LE DEFI AREVA took on US heavyweight Oracle BMW Racing this afternoon on the Hauraki Gulf. This time however, it was the giant who conquered. Auckland’s errant wind had finally picked up around midday, allowing Louis Vuitton racing to recommence after two days of postponements.

The match between LE DEFI AREVA and USA 76 was the fourth to kick off in winds of around 16 knots, with the Americans making a slightly better start at the committee boat.

The first windward leg began evenly, with the French team taking a slight lead early on. But as the wind changed and shifted to the left side of course Juliet, LE DEFI AREVA lost capacity and fell back 59 seconds at the first windward mark.

However, the French team performed well on their first leeward leg, gaining back 24 seconds at the first leeward mark and proving that FRA 69 is every bit as quick downwind as it is on the windward stretch.

"Racing was difficult today", says skipper and helmsman, Luc Pillot. "We started well and maintained our hold on the left side of the course, so we are pleased about that. But we didn’t expect to beat the Americans – not this time, anyway!"

"We are taking every opportunity on the water to develop our boat and our performance – all we need to do is stay in the race. Every match teaches us something new for the next regatta, and we are very avid learners!"

The gap between USA 76 and FRA 69 gradually widened as the race progressed, with LE DEFI AREVA finishing 2.52 minutes behind their first American opponent.

Sailing Manager Pierre Mas is unfazed by the performance of the big American syndicate. "Oracle is an America’s Cup giant with a very fast boat and we are a pretty small syndicate by comparison. We did not take a point today but we stayed in the match till the end - we were there all the way to the finish line."

The four big syndicates took the honours today with other results including: OneWorld (USA 67) beating Örn (SWE 63) by 59 seconds; Alinghi (SUI 64) beating Stars and Stripes (USA 66) by 1.10 minutes and Prada (ITA 74) only just beating Wight Lightning (GBR 70) by 22 seconds. Mascalzone Latino had a bye today before meeting Stars and Stripes tomorrow.

The crew list for the French team against OneWorld tomorrow is as follows: Romain Troublé as bowman, Gilles André as second bowman, Pierre Masse as mastman, Timmy Kröger in the pit, Eric Carret as sewer, Stefan Fodor 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 woman tomorrow will be Isabelle Musy from Reuters.

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