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Au Revoir To Le Defi Areva

Au Revoir To Le Defi Areva

It is a sad swansong this evening for LE DEFI AREVA who lost a fourth and definitive match against the Swedish Victory Challenge today. The quarter-final result of 4 – 1 will see the Swedes proceed through to the quarter-final repecharge and the embattled French team wave goodbye to the Louis Vuitton Cup 2003.

After a close dial-up and aggressive pre-start manoeuvring, FRA 69 crossed the start line 2 seconds ahead and well over the top of SWE 73. The French boat took an early advantage, but the Swedes came back quickly on port tack to take advantage of a rising left hand shift which helped them round the first mark 33 seconds ahead of LE DEFI AREVA.

Trailing by 175m on the first beat to leeward, the French were too far behind SWE 73 to blanket her wind and dropped back by up to 220m in a softening breeze. SWE 73 rounded the second mark with a 43 second advantage.

The second beat to windward saw Victory Challenge calling the shots, leaving no room for LE DEFI AREVA to manoeuvre. There was a 52 second delta at the third mark.

Problems with the backstay, the halyard and the gennaker set at the beginning of the fourth leg meant FRA 69 trailed Örm SWE 73 by over 500m and rounded the top mark 2.14 minutes behind Victory Challenge.

No miracles on the homeward stretch, either. FRA 69 trailed by over 700m the entire leg and finished 2.34 minutes behind the Swedish Victory Challenge.

"It is an enormous disappointment for the whole team – of course", says General Manager, Xavier de Lesquen. "We have had the opportunity to represent France in this wonderful competition, and that has been an amazing experience. We were hoping to go further but the timing and the size of the budget has been a problem every step of the way.

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"Our thanks to the numerous sponsors – especially AREVA - whose support has enabled this young team of very talented sailors to participate at such a high level of competition. Without them, we wouldn’t be here."

Pierre Mas, Sailing Manager for LE DEFI AREVA says the team remains motivated for the next challenge: "We are going to have to analyse our strengths and weaknesses to decide the best way forward but we are still motivated by our original objective – to one day bring the America’s Cup home to France. What structure and format the ongoing project will take is now open to discussion."

The French team will take some time out over the next 72 hours, before regrouping to consider its approach to the next project.

The only other result from today’s racing was between Stars & Stripes (USA 77) and GBR (GBR 70), with the American’s beating the English by 1.42 minutes. This sees Team Dennis Conner win 4 - 1, and progress through to the quarter-final repecharge. GBR will be packing their bags this week as well.

After Saturday’s racing, Prada and OneWorld also go through to the quarter-final repecharge whilst Oracle and Alinghi progress direct to the semi-finals.

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