Paris – This Wednesday 11 December, at the Nautic Paris Boat Show, Franck Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson presented Team France, which is dedicated to the next America’s Cup as well as the training up of young engineers and racers. A number of personalities from the economic, institutional, sporting and media world came along to show their support for this pioneering trio and for the club of founder members.
The stand for the French Nautical Industries Federation boasted a full house this Wednesday at 1400 GMT with the presentation by a prestigious trio, who had come along to announce that they were going to be flying the French flag under the Yacht Club de France colours in their bid to participate in the upcoming America’s Cup, scheduled for 2017. The elements of the Protocol, which governs this star event of international sailing, are yet to be confirmed (boat type, nationality rule, date and venue for the America’s Cup selection rounds…), the aim of this announcement was to demonstrate that France could be a legitimate pretender to the silver ewer!
A unifying group
In this type of challenge, funding is a prerequisite but it’s not enough on its own: what matters most is the gathering together of maritime, technological, sporting and economic talents. The Club of founder members that make up Team France thus boasts some illustrious patrons. Bruno Bich, the son of Baron Bich, who was the first French boat owner in the America’s Cup back in 1965… Thierry Martel, Managing Director of Groupama, who confirms his support to Franck Cammas for the sporting element over the next two years. Bertrand Meheut, President of the Canal+ group, which is committed to following the sporting event, the preparation and the mounting of Team France with its various broadcasts. Stéphane Kandler, who was the last French representative during the 32nd America’s Cup and is taking up the post of General Manager of the Team. Yves Lagane, President of the Yacht Club de France, who will lodge the challenge with the Americans from the San Francisco Yacht Club, holder of the silver ewer. And finally Jean-Pierre Champion, President of the French Sailing Federation, who will be bringing his prudence and support to this new, far-reaching, sporting challenge.
Indeed, when the ambition is great, you need great men: Franck Cammas, elected French Sailor of the Year a few days ago for the second time running, Michel Desjoyeaux, one of France’s top French solo specialists as well as the person behind Mer Forte, a Research and Development stable in Brittany’s Port-la-Forêt, and Olivier de Kersauson, boat owner and former title holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, who has been an America’s Cup enthusiast for decades, have thus pooled their respective skills and expertise to create Team France, which has two clear objectives: to prepare for and then participate in the next America’s Cup by training a team of 80 sailors, engineers, technicians and logisticians… as well as discovering and training young talent from all the different sectors of sailing to participate in the major sports events both inshore and offshore.
Franck Cammas: to create a perennial team
“I’m very proud to present this new challenge which will take Michel, Olivier and I on a long journey. It’s already been a year since Groupama and I spoke clearly about the aim of taking things as far as the America’s Cup: the project has matured and it was evident that it was necessary to train up a team so that we could all head out together into the nautical, regional, national and economic playing field. The three of us are motivated, sincere and complementary in our quest to convince others that Team France can pull off a performance worthy of this name in what is one of the toughest competitions to win. France boasts maritime talent, technological experience and a collective desire and this is another reason why this is a long-term project to train young racers and engineers within a developing sporting network. The example set by Team New Zealand is a good reference for outlining our aims and this challenge: I believe that we can create a similar, lasting group.”
Michel Desjoyeaux: merging cultures
“There is no antagonism between solo and crewed sailing: I’m passionate about the America’s Cup technology; that’s where there’s the most development and innovation! It’s par for the course in a technological sport like sailing. I don’t want to be aboard, because there are more competent sailors than me for that, but working on the technical aspect has massive appeal for me: when Franck came to see me, I joined up immediately… We’ve known each other for 18 years (we did a transatlantic together) and combining our experiences with those of Olivier was an obvious step. We can be proud in France of our technological skills in the America’s Cup with a number of engineers, designers, architects and technicians, who worked with the Americans and the New Zealanders during the 34th America’s Cup! There are three egos coming together here in an ultimate, collective objective.”
Olivier de Kersauson: encouraging the synergy of skills
“I’ve been familiar with the America’s Cup for years and the latest boats are totally derived from French offshore racing… We have such technical potential, knowledge and skills with regard multihulls that it is imperative that French sailors are there for the next edition. The latest generation of sailors represented here by Michel and Franck deserve to be encouraged and supported: what has always been tough individually becomes easier when men join forces with a common objective. The goal is exciting and the result can only be on a par with the ambitions of these youngsters brimming with talent. It’s a pleasure and an honour to add my little contribution.”