Fast Swedish ÖRM Slithers Away From Le Defi Areva

Published: Fri 25 Oct 2002 09:35 AM
Press Release 32 - Thursday 24 October, Auckland
Fast Swedish ÖRM slithers away from LE DEFI AREVA
Magnificent sailing conditions on the Hauraki Gulf today were not enough to help LE DEFI AREVA put a point on the board today. Perfect winds of between 8 – 15 knots meant boat speed was more crucial today than ever before. The Swedes, with their new, supposedly faster boat aptly named ‘ÖRM’ (or serpent) look set to be tough competition from the start.
After an expert start in winds of 15 knots, FRA 69 crossed the start line 1 second ahead of the Swedish boat, with the French team opting to sail up the right hand side of the course, making the most of today’s unusual northeast wind direction.
The first windward leg was neck and neck racing between LE DEFI AREVA and the Swedish Victory Challenge, each taking the lead before falling slightly behind. There was hardly more than a boat-length in it, with SWE 73 rounding the first mark 14 seconds ahead of FRA 69.
The second leg was crucial to the French team whose downwind modifications were still yet to be really tested in Round Robin II. However, the fast boat ÖRM started to live up to its promises, and led the first leeward stretch by over 100m. LE DEFI AREVA chased the Swedes to the second mark and despite impeccable sail management in the spinnaker drop at the buoy, SWE 73 succeeded in gaining another 4 seconds on LE DEFI.
The pair zig-zagged back up the first part of the course to the second windward mark, FRA 69 gaining precious ground and coming at one stage within one boat-length of SWE 73. But solid teamwork and tactical know-how were not enough to upset the Swedes, and the half way mark saw LE DEFI AREVA holding the same gap of 18 seconds.
The second leeward leg saw the French afterguard use tactical choices to try and gain ground on Victory Challenge, taking the opposing left side of the course. But breezes of 13 knots saw the Swedes hold onto their lead, ÖRM running smoothly down the right hand side of course Romeo with leads of up to 170m. FRA 69 rounded the fourth mark a further 17 seconds behind the black boat.
Yaka Team co-ordinator and top boat designer, Philippe Pallu de la Barrière is impressed with SWE 73: "Between the ÖRN and ÖRM, I am pretty sure today’s ‘serpent’ looked faster than their ‘eagle’ from the first Round Robin. 73 looked a little narrower, maybe a little squarer – but in any case, they were quicker downwind than we were.
The modifications we made to FRA 69 mean we are quicker downwind as well, but SWE 73 certainly has an edge. Once they had the advantage, they were hard to catch."
The last upwind leg of the match was a veryordered game of follow-the-leader. The French maintained their tactical autonomy but never managed to catch up the ground lost on the previous leg. Though free of risk and error, FRA 69 rounded the fifth mark a full 1.06 minutes behind the Swedish ‘serpent’ which was indeed proving to be a slippery opponent.
SWE 73 was well ahead on the final leg for Day Two of Round Robin II. With 400m under their viking-sized belts, the Swedes never looked to be in trouble and crossed the finish line with 1.19 minutes to spare.
As always, the French maintain a balanced outlook.
"The start was very close and it was a tight first leg, but at the first cross, they had us covered which slowed us down for rounding the windward mark", says skipper-helmsman Luc Pillot. "Still, we performed well and minimised the element of error which has been plaguing us. ÖRM was a faster boat and the Swedish team handled her with skill and ease. They deserved today’s point."
Tomorrow, LE DEFI AREVA will meet Prada who are making a comeback after three wins in two days.
Other results from todays’ racing: Alinghi (SUI 64) beat OneWorld (USA 67) by 0.27 minutes; Oracle BMW Racing (USA 76) beat Mascalzone Latino (ITA 72) by 2.40 minutes and Prada (ITA 74) beat Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes (USA 66) by 41 seconds.

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