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Evolution, not revolution

Press Release 29 - Tuesday 22 October, Auckland

Evolution, not revolution

One day out from the beginning of Round Robin II and LE DEFI AREVA is ready to get back to work.

The work programme outlined for the break between the Round Robins went according to plan and it was only a matter of waiting for the weather to come right for FRA 69 to go out sailing on the Hauraki Gulf again last Sunday morning.

During the week ‘off’, FRA 69 was subject to modifications which Sailing Manager Pierre Mas describes as ‘evolutionary, not revolutionary’. These modifications are the result of much research and preparation – some planned since before the beginning of the competition, others conceived over the course of Round Robin I.

The modifications have one sole objective: to increase boat speed on the leeward leg. Technicians spent last week reducing the surface area of the rudder and winglets to reduce the drag on the boat, reconfiguring sail shapes and devising better sail management solutions as well as modifying deck gear to improve speed and manoeuvrability.

"The modifications we have made are nothing more than minor adjustments, but added together, they constitute technical evolutions which should make us faster", says Philippe Pallu de la Barriere, co-ordinator from the Yaka Design Team. "A fast boat takes hard work and sweat."

The mast damaged in LE DEFI AREVA’s last regatta against Stars & Stripes has been replaced by a previous, 2003-generation mast: repairs to the original mast will not be completed until the end of Round Robin II.

The sailing team has also used this break to go over their performance in the previous eight regattas. The analysis is clear: overall, the team has good boat management and is skilled in handling changes in wind direction but needs to work on race starts, match racing tactics and certain on-board manoeuvres.

"There will be some visible differences between RR II and RR I", says skipper, Luc Pillot. "We have shored up our assets and will be a long stronger downwind this time around. We’ll be concentrating on certain situations, certain manoeuvres – we have a better idea now of what can be achieved."

If there were errors made over the course of Round Robin I, they do not reflect the quality of the sailors on board FRA 69. The end goal is to ensure that the 16-strong sailing team continues to work better and better together as the boat itself improves.

To this end, positions of the sailing team for Round Robin II have been adjusted to fit more in line with the traditional ACC configurations used by other syndicates. Luc Gellusseau will now act as strategist, Luc Pillot will remain as skipper-helmsman with Philippe Mourniac as navigator. Sébastien Destremau, number 10 on FRA 69 for the last four regattas of Round Robin I, will act as tactician. His experience in match racing will provide an additional asset to the team in tight racing situations.

Pierre Mas, Sailing Manager for LE DEFI AREVA is upbeat about the challenge that faces the team. "Now we are better armed. We have worked a lot this past week. The boat can only go fast if the people who built it and the people who sail it work together. That is what we have done and the first test sailings in the Gulf were very encouraging. We believe we have what it takes to qualify for the quarter finals."

Depending on the weather (and on whether the final race from RRI between the two Italian syndicates takes place this afternoon), the first regatta for LE DEFI AREVA is set down for tomorrow, Wednesday 23 October. The French team will be taking every opportunity to test and retest the modifications made over the last week before they meet Alinghi tomorrow.

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