AREVA unable to break PRADA’s winning streak
LE DEFI AREVA unable to break PRADA’s winning streak
After four days of no racing, today’s programme looked hectic: two regattas for each syndicate and two points up for grabs. Each regatta was shortened to two rounds instead of three, with the first departing at 10.30am and the second scheduled to start at 1.30pm. Squalls on the Gulf this afternoon however postponed the second depart until just after 3pm.
Conditions were however perfect for the first depart, with sunshine and winds of 17 knots. After a close dial-up, FRA 69 passed the start-line a second ahead of Prada and took the right hand side of course Romeo, with Prada tacking back to follow the French a few seconds into the first leg.
The first windward leg was very tight, but LE DEFI AREVA took advantage of a wind shift and gained a lead of up to four boat-lengths. Then – minor disaster : the genoa ripped. The French lead dropped back to only several metres, which meant a close rounding of the first mark. Luna Rossa tried to cut in ahead of LE DEFI, but the French managed to retain their lead by 5 seconds at the buoy.
The Italians protested this manoeuvre but umpires decided against awarding them the decision and LE DEFI AREVA was spared a penalty.
‘It was pretty hot out there,’ says tactician Sébastien Destremau. ‘The ripped genoa slowed us down and if we hadn’t tried to cover Luna Rossa as much, we probably could have rounded the first mark with a bigger margin. But it was a tactical decision and we decided to go with it,’ he says.
The next leg was crucial to LE DEFI AREVA, who needed to maintain the downwind lead, despite FRA 69 being obviously quicker upwind. The French was holding a lead of 30 metres on the second leg when the jumper on the mainsail of FRA 69 broke. Prada took this opportunity to make ground on LE DEFI and overtook them with 7 seconds ahead.
FRA 69 and ITA 74 chose opposite sides of the course for the final windward leg, but the French soon tacked in to follow Luna Rossa up the left hand side.
Prada led the third leg by between 60 and 80 metres, despite French efforts to regain precious ground. The Italians increased their lead and passed the third mark 38 seconds ahead of LE DEFI AREVA.
The final leg confirmed FRA 69’s fate, with ITA 74 increasing its lead to an unreachable 300 metres and winning the first match of the day by 1.04 minutes.
‘We could have had today’s point’, says Sailing Manager Pierre Mas. ‘We made a great start and chose the best tactics for today’s conditions but as the match progressed, Prada was stronger than us and it showed. They have another point and we are still at 0.’
Other results from todays’ racing: Flight 3: Alinghi (SUI 64) beat Mascalzone Latino (ITA 74) by 2.11 minutes; OneWorld (USA 67) beat GBR Challenge (GBR 70) by 1.05 minutes and Victory Challenge (SWE 73) beat Stars & Stripes (USA 66) by 13 seconds. Flight 4: Only the match between ORM SWE 73 and Mascalzone Latino ITA 72 took place this afternoon, with the Swedes beating the Italians by 1.23 minutes.
Technical problems mean that LE DEFI AREVA’s scheduled match against GBR this afternoon has been deferred at the request of the French team. The three remaining regattas from Flight 4 will be raced at the end of Round Robin II.