All change at Le Defi

As the French AC team limber up for next week's quarter final match with the Swedes

Friday November 8th 2002, Author: Andy Nicholson, Location: Australasia
Above, earlier in the Louis Vuitton Cup (from left to right) Presti, Pillot and Mourniac.

Le Defi Areva have today announced a complete reorganisation of their afterguard. Off are Luc Pillot - this has been rumoured as long as two weeks ago - and Sebastien Destramau. On instead are tactician and projuect manager Luc Gellusseau and skipper/helmsman Philippe Presti in their place. Philippe Mourniac has survived the night of the long knives and continues in his role as navigtor.

During this week's break the team have been developing their boat handling and two boat racing while trying to develop their on board communication and teamwork in close contact racing situations.

"I know Jesper Bank well", says Philippe Presti of opposite number on Victory Challenge, which the French will face in the quarter finals, starting Tuesday. "I have had the opportunity of racing against him on the international circuit and the training matches we had against them in September were very useful. These will be tough rivals who have had a very good start to the Louis Vuitton Cup. I have been analysing their regattas and if we can improve our performance in the contact phases – as well as maintaining the good boatspeed we now have – we should be able to mark a point against them".

The change of afterguard has not been easy.

"I made a difficult decision", said Sailing Manager, Pierre Mas. "It had to be done. We are at a critical moment in the competition and we have to take into account all of our strengths and our weaknesses. Today, we find ourselves in the position of having one single opponent – the Swedes. We have to catch them and be better than them in all the close match-racing phases of the regatta. To do this, I decided to reconfigure the team around Philippe Presti. At the helm of FRA 69, he is a plus for us against Victory Challenge. That’s how the competition works. To beat the Swedes, we need perfect racing: good starts, close contact, tight manoeuvres and good boatspeed.

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