Time To Regroup For Le Defi Areva
Press Release 27 - Saturday 12 October, Auckland
Time to regroup for LE DEFI AREVA
Not a happy ending for LE DEFI AREVA after a tense rendezvous with Mascalzone Latino on the Hauraki Gulf today. Both teams were desperate to put a point on the board, and were well matched for the ninth day of Louis Vuitton racing. After just over two hours of heart-poundingly close racing, Mascalzone Latino snatched a four second victory from LE DEFI AREVA. A last minute penalty meant that the French team ended up with an official time of 5.19 minutes.
In light winds of 10 – 12 knots, the French had a two second lead off the start line into the first windward leg – a close stretch, with never more than half a boat length between the two boats. FRA 69 rounded the first windward mark seven seconds ahead of ITA 72 and led out on the first leeward stretch, but by the second mark, had fallen behind by 29 seconds.
Navigator Philippe Mourniac explains: "The wind was pretty shifty out in the Gulf today and the Italians were very quick downwind. We had trouble keeping up with them on that first leeward leg."
The third leg saw LE DEFI AREVA trailing by an average of 100m. In winds of around 11 knots, the French team languished before regaining some ground, rounding the second windward mark 13 seconds behind.
Under spinnaker for the second leeward leg, the French again trailed ITA 72, never quite managing to make up the few seconds that separated them from their first point of Round Robin I. They rounded the fourth mark 22 seconds behind.
In winds gusting up to 22 knots, FRA 69 made the most of stronger conditions, tacking up the right hand side of course Juliet on the final windward leg and contesting the Italians at the fifth mark with 14 seconds ahead.
The homeward leg was tense, to say the least. With the French leading the way and the Italians chasing behind, it looked as though LE DEFI AREVA would get their first point on the board. But at the final approach to the finish line, ITA 72 came back unexpectedly from behind and overtook FRA 69. The French team tried to contain their opponents but in doing so, executed an illegal manoeuvre and were duly slapped with a last minute penalty.
Sailing Manager Pierre Mas is disappointed with the outcome of today’s regatta: "We have been watching the performance of all the syndicates over the course of this first Round Robin, and although we knew that Mascalzone had been sailing well and pulling out some surprises, we thought we could beat them. We made a couple of errors and we are paying for them. It was not our day today.
"Of course we congratulate ‘les Mascalzones’ – they sailed a great race today and they deserved to win. They must be delighted to finally get that elusive point on the board. Good on you, guys! We’ll see you in the next round."
Skipper-helmsman Luc Pillot is upbeat about the prospects for LE DEFI AREVA: "We have one more race tomorrow against Stars and Stripes, and then a week to regroup and consider our options before Round Robin II. We will be looking to develop both the team and the boat over this period, and get some more sailing hours under our collective belts. We have nine more regattas before the quarter finals."
Other results from today: Wight Lightning (GBR 70) beat Oracle BMW Racing by 36 seconds; Alinghi (SUI 64) beat Örn (SWE 63) by 25 seconds and OneWorld (USA 67) beat Prada (ITA 74) by 1.11 minutes.
More information available at www.ledefi.com