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Valence - 2006-06-22

Louis Vuitton Act 12 got off to a challenging start for Thierry Peponnet and his crew. AREVA Challenge first went head to head with Alinghi for their first match, and then Desafio Español in the second.

In spite of leaving two points to their opponents, the day was a positive one for the crew, who in particular, had two very good starts.

“The day was certainly a little frustrating, but the performance is there,” comments Stephane Kandler, CEO of AREVA Challenge. He continues, “The team sailed the upwind legs very well. It is satisfying to know that our work on improving the boat and our crew operations has paid off.”

Indeed, FRA 60 is the oldest boat in the fleet, but it can be said that the team has given it a new life against its adversaries, some of whom are sailing brand new boats. For instance the Spanish are competing with their new boat for the first time.

Sebastien Col, Tactician, recounts the key moments of the day:
“In our first match against Alinghi, we had a good start and were able to take the side of the course that we thought was favored (the right side looking upwind). On the second part of the first upwind leg, they had a higher boat speed and managed to take the advantage. We were able to maintain the variation for nearly the rest of the race, but on the second downwind leg, an operating error with the spinnaker led us to finish two minutes behind.

Against the Spanish, we had another beautiful start followed by a very tight upwind leg (13 seconds advantage to AREVA Challenge at the first mark – after 25 tacks!). We kept the lead until the first downwind leg, when both teams decided to round the same leeward mark. A tactical error led to too close of a mark rounding and a foul on our part. The judges continued to give us two additional penalties until we were passed by our opponent – a payment for what had happened. We finished 1 minute, 30 seconds behind.”

Marc Bouët, Coach of the team, concludes:
“Today, we witnessed true match racing! Except for an operational mistake, the deficit in speed was reabsorbed. For example, we lost, on average, only 10 seconds a leg against Alinghi. We have made tremendous progress with our boat speed. In the race against the Spanish, we did really well against their new boat. Of course we always need to work hard on our match racing skills, as an error cost us the match, but we find our speed to be very positive. The day has confirmed all the goals we have been working towards: better speed, good starts, and progress in match racing. And, thanks to today’s situations, we have acquired even more experience.”

Tomorrow, AREVA Challenge will face BMW Oracle Racing in the first match, and then United Team Internet Germany in the second.

St├ęphanie Nadin

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