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Valencia, Spain - 2006-05-19

Today, Louis Vuitton Act 11 opened in Valencia, the host city of the 32nd America’s Cup. This three day event is run in a fleet racing format, where all twelve competitors compete together on the same course.

For the first race, the start for Areva Challenge went ok. The French Team started in the middle of a pack of boats, which was not ideal. The team had a difficult time finding clear wind and instead of deciding their own strategy, the position of the other boats dictated it to them. Areva Challenge was 10th at the first upwind mark. The team worked hard to exploit the wind’s oscillations, which helped them move up, in particular, on the last leg of the race, they passed BMW Oracle Racing and Desafío Español. Areva Challenge finishes 7th.

In the second race of the day, Areva Challenge started to leeward of Alinghi, but still in a better position than the first race. Areva Challenge immediately tacked to get clear, but was forced back by Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team. The French returned to the center of the course, where they raced to the first mark, arriving in 4th place. Thanks to good tactics and two very good downwind runs, Areva Challenge preserved its position until the end of the race.

Thierry Peponnet, Skipper and Helmsman, comments: “It is difficult, even for “the large” teams, to be consistent under the conditions of an oscillating wind which we had today. Our afterguard thus did an excellent job in the delicate situations we found ourselves in after the two starts: we knew to exploit the good shifts and the good puffs of wind. The communication between the members of the afterguard was really effective; it enabled us to return each time, and to keep in phase with the wind.”

Indeed, good tactics and recently modified sails helped the team anticipate and compensate for the handicaps of an older boat.

Sebastien Col, Tactician: “Our objective is to function as consistently as possible, and to continue on a positive learning curve. It takes time to build a cohesive afterguard, and we are making good progress.”

Areva Challenge will take part again tomorrow in two fleet races. The team currently lies in 5th place for Louis Vuitton Act 11.

Stephanie Nadin

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