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No American Dream For Le Defi Areva

Press Release 34 - Thursday 31 October, Auckland

No American Dream for LE DEFI AREVA

It was Groundhog Day for the French team today as they met Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes in perfect sailing conditions on the Hauraki Gulf this morning. The Americans had a better start, sailed better and were without the technical problems which plagued LE DEFI AREVA, coming home 1.12 minutes ahead of FRA 69.

Average winds of between 12 – 14 knots saw a timely depart of the day’s first matches, with FRA 69 taking the committee boat end of the line and crossing already 6 seconds behind Stars & Stripes. Both boats took the left hand side of course Juliet and headed towards the first windward mark, neck and neck for most of the way with the French team momentarily taking the lead. But the Americans were stronger, and took the opportunity of a slight wind shift to grow their lead on the embattled French. They rounded the first mark 12 seconds ahead of LE DEFI AREVA.

The first leeward leg of today’s shortened course saw FRA 69 blanket Stars & Stripes the length of the stretch and reduce their lead to as little as 15m, but Dennis Conner’s experienced crew kept control of the situation and rounded the second mark with a gain of only 1 second. FRA 69, downwind, is improving.But the French team, it seems, remains winless and luckless. In their first spinnaker drop, the retrieving line damaged the hydraulic oil tank, causing a leak. Whilst the hydraulic system continued to work, the incident meant that FRA 69 would not be able to face another opponent today.

That, coupled with a missed wind-shift opportunity, meant that USA 66 was able to grow its lead on FRA 69 over the remaining two legs of the short course. 53 seconds at the third mark and a final delta of 1.12 minutes saw Stars & Stripes mark their first win of Round Robin II.

LE DEFI AREVA’s skipper and helmsman Luc Pillot says the team is naturally down but by no means out: "I know – we say the same thing each time but we are in fact making progress. Today we actually had a tidy race, despite the messy start. We were very close, then the Americans managed to take advantage of a windshift at the beginning of the second upwind leg and off they went. And yes, it’s hard for us at the moment, still not having a point on the board but I believe we will get there. We all do – it’s just a matter of proving it to you!’

Tomorrow is another big day. The French will meet OneWorld in the morning and GBR Challenge in the afternoon. The French have only four more matches in which to qualify for the Quarter Finals.

LE DEFI AREVA asked for a delay to repair damages to FRA 69 and will meet today’s second opponent Oracle BMW Racing at the end of Round Robin II.

Other results from today’s racing:

Flight 6: GBR Challenge (GBR 70) beat Mascalzone Latino (ITA 72) by 1.40 minutes;

Oracle BMW Racing (USA 76) beat OneWorld (USA 67) by 0.40 seconds

and Prada Luna Rossa (ITA 74) beat Victory Challenge (SWE 73) by 10 seconds.

Flight 7: Alinghi (SUI 64) beat Stars & Stripes (USA 66) by 49 seconds;

Prada Luna Rossa (ITA 74) beat GBR Challenge (GBR 70) by 16 seconds and

OneWorld (USA 67) beat Victory Challenge (SWE 73) by 21 seconds.

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