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David Meets Goliath – A Riveting Sequel

Press Release 26 - Friday 11 October, Auckland

David meets Goliath – a riveting sequel

LE DEFI AREVA took on another American giant today in the form of OneWorld USA 67, giving them a very exciting and somewhat unexpected run for their money.

The Americans were ahead three seconds at the start line in 12 to 14 knots of wind. Impressive boat speed for FRA 69 meant a close chase to the first windward mark, where the two ACC boats rounded the buoy with a hair’s breadth between them.

Shifty wind conditions on the first leeward leg saw the French team drop 1.13 minutes behind the American heavyweight, but LE DEFI AREVA succeeded in gaining back 43 seconds on the second windward leg to round the third mark only half a minute behind.

Chasing the USA 67 ‘big boys’ to the fourth mark, FRA 69 lost only 10 seconds on the second leeward leg of the race but constant wind shifts meant they rounded the fifth mark trailing by 1.06 minutes.

Navigator Philippe Mourniac explains: "With today’s changeable, windy conditions, anything could have happened. At any given moment, the lead could have dropped or changed. We raced well today and we are happy with our performance. But we’ll be a lot happier when we get a point on the board".

A nailing-biting last leg saw the French team hounding USA 67 to the final mark, coming within 46 metres of the OneWorld Challenge. The atmosphere on the water was thick with excitement as the two big boats closed in on the finish line. FRA 69 chased down the big American boat, finishing a mere 21 seconds behind – a great result for the little French syndicate.

"Today’s result couldn’t have come at a better time", says skipper-helmsman Luc Pillot. "We needed a good match with some close contact and that’s what we got today. Even better of course that we were able to finish this closely to one of the hot favourites for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The team was really motivated out there and will be all the more so for the match against Mascalzone tomorrow", he says.

Other results from today: Stars and Stripes (USA) beat Mascalzone Latino by 1.36 minutes; Wight Lightning (GBR 70) beat Örn (SWE 63) by 48 seconds and Alinghi (SUI 64) beat Oracle BMW Racing by 1.43 minutes.

The crew list for the French team against Mascalzone Latino tomorrow is as follows: Romain Troublé as bowman, Ronan Lucas as second bowman, Fabrice Blondel as mastman, Jean-François Rivalant in the pit, Eric Carret as sewer, Frédéric Lemaistre 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 Luc Pillot as helmsman/skipper, Philippe Mourniac as navigator and Luc Gellusseau as tactician. 17th man tomorrow will be François Mousis from Figaro.

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