Orient Express Team

How the Orient Express Team Challenge takes the Bretagne Sailing Valley into the America’s Cup ?4 min de lecture

  • Competitive sailing

Interviews, surveys, key events and news from Eurolarge Innovation members… Every 3 months, the Bretagne Sailing Valley® News covers the economic and technological news of the Breton competitive sailing. Discover below the news related to the America’s Cup. 

Résultat de la traducti

It’s official: France will be present in the next America’s Cup with the Orient Express Team challenge, named after the brand of the Accor group, which is entered in the Cup for the first time. And so a real race against time is launched for the French who will rely on many Breton companies present in the world of competitive sailing.

Bretagne Sailing Valley in a race against the clock for the America’s Cup

Getting into the 37th edition of the Cup with less than two years from the first races in September 2024 in Barcelona, may seem crazy. But that is discounting the perseverance of Stéphane Kandler and Bruno Dubois, who at the end of 2022 managed to bring in the support of the Accor hotel group, via its Orient Express brand. To deliver on a project launched later than the other challengers, the duo managed to convince the defender Emirates Team New Zealand to sell them the design package for their new AC75. This helps with the twin problems of running out of time and with the budget, and potentially having had to start the boat design from a blank sheet of paper, “while making sure to go forwards at the best level”, confides Stéphane Kandler.

WIth the plans provided by the New Zealand designers – who are well proven after designing the winning AC75 on the 36th Cup, now the boat needs to be built to the highest possible level of quality. For this, the strategy of the challenge takes on the economic and industrial fabric of southern Brittany. “Thanks to offshore racing, we have an ecosystem of dynamic companies, capable of mobilizing quickly and working together on this kind of project, even if we are going to bring them into new technologies and different approaches, linked to the Cup”, adds Kandler co-founder of the French challenge.

In the front line there is Multiplast who are in charge of the “black box” – that is to say the hull, structure and deck. It is far from being a first for the Vannes yard, which has already built six boats for successive French challenges. The build of this AC75 will begin at the end of the spring with the production of the tooling entrusted to SMM, in Lanester. The build will take ten months, with the objective of launching in Barcelona in May 2024. “This represents a third of our activity over a year, i.e. about 45,000 hours of work, as well as 25 and 30 people mobilised depending on the period”, explains Yann Penfornis, general manager of Multiplast. The boatyard is also preparing to host some of the French challenge teams on its premises and in converted containers.

A R&D laboratory, a start-up approach

“It is a question of working as closely as possible on the boat under construction and the teams which will operate in two shifts”, justifies Antoine Carraz, the new technical director of the tricolor challenger, who comes from MerConcept. He coordinates all the suppliers of a boat to be built, according to the rules, in France, with a budget estimated at 10 million euros. Among the suppliers that have already been announced are CDK Group (masts) and North Sails (sails). “We are in discussion with many other suppliers in the area, who are fortunately a little more available after the overload linked to the construction of new boats for the next Vendée Globe”, adds Carraz who is working at the same time in recruiting a technical team for a challenge that will bring together 70 people by 2024.

“Launching a Cup project is like developing a start-up, with a rapid growth in power around a wide variety of very specialized professions: naval architects, engineers, fluid dynamics, software, mechatronic technicians…”, explains Stéphane Kandler. He estimates that the construction and engineering developed around the AC75, integrating control systems, represents around 215,000 hours of work, i.e. benefits for the local order ecosystem from 15 to 20 million euros.

Everything will be centralized around the K-Challenge Lab, a subsidiary of the challenge being set up and a real R&D laboratory built around the needs of the Cup. With the AC75, there are many other projects, such as the launch of a virtual test tank, the construction of a hydrogen powered chase-boat capable of moving at very high speed as imposed by the Protocol of the Cup, or even the development of a simulator to virtually test the boat. So many challenges that illustrate the magnitude of an America’s Cup campaign.


Credit Photo : © Orient Express Team


To receive a preview of articles, news, appointments… SIGN UP for the Bretagne Sailing Valley Newsletter®

Sign up