French challenger for the 37th AC is named Orient Express Team

ACCOR Group and its brands Orient Express and ALL-ACCOR Live Limitless commit to sport-tech team K-Challenge

The ACCOR hotel group has committed to K-Challenge for the 37th America’s Cup naming its Orient Express brand as title partner of the official French challenger, which will be known as Orient Express Team. This commitment to sports oldest trophy, one of the most demanding in competitive sailing, alongside K-Challenge, continues ACCOR’s expansion into the maritime world following the construction of two Orient Express Silenseas sailing ships by Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

The team, led by Stéphan Kandler and Bruno Dubois, and including talented French specialists such as naval architect Benjamin Muyl, skipper Quentin Delapierre, head of performance Franck Cammas, and technical director Antoine Carraz, will face four other challengers at the Challenger Selection Series in September 2024.

The goal is to carry the colours of Orient Express as far as possible into the competition. And why not all the way to the America’s Cup Match against Defender Emirates Team New Zealand? For the first time in France’s history in the America’s Cup, the French challenge will benefit from a latest generation technology package provided by the Defender. This will allow Orient Express Team to gain time and start on equal terms with its opponents.

The origins of the Orient Express Team

While the America’s Cup was born of a challenge between English and American yacht clubs in 1851, the Orient Express was born of the pioneering spirit of Georges Nagelmackers and completed its inaugural round trip between Paris and Constantinople in 1883. These are almost twin challenges born of passion, commitment, and technology – a timeless and winning combination that ACCOR Group, its Orient Express brand, and K-Challenge are adopting.

An AC75, Orient Express, Made in France

The AC75, a 20.7m long foiling monohull capable of flying at over 100km/h, has been the official America’s Cup boat since the last edition. As Stéphan Kandler likes to remind the team: “An AC75 is a fighter plane with eight pilots flying 30cm above the water. It’s a highly technological machine on a par with the latest aerospace technology.”

For the build of the AC75, Orient Express Team has chosen to work with several well-established shipyards at the heart of the French maritime industry. They are renowned for their know-how gleaned from the many industrial projects they have worked on and from the world of competitive sailing.

Bruno Dubois: “We are fortunate in France to benefit from an extraordinary amount of expertise that we will exploit to the full. We will work with Multiplast, based in Vannes in the Morbihan region, CDK, based in Lorient and Port-La-Forêt, as well as numerous subcontractors. Some of these shipyards also work with Chantiers de l’Atlantique on the Orient Express Silenseas project. Working with several entities allows us to save time. Construction of our AC75 will start in April and will be completed in spring 2024.”

Stéphan Kandler: “Building the AC75 Orient Express will require many skills and hours of work. Our partnership with ACCOR Group will benefit the French economy and create jobs for several months. It is important both from an economic point of view and in terms of the enhancement of the country and the entire sector. Like ACCOR Group’s investments in technologies such as hydrogen, we will be able to develop numerous technological innovations towards the decarbonisation of transport.”

The AC75 Orient Express is scheduled to launch in spring 2024. In the meantime, the sailing team will train on an AC40, a smaller but equally powerful monohull that will also be used as the platform for the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup.

Planning by numbers:

2023:

April: AC75 Orient Express construction begins and will continue for one year in Brittany
June: The team moves into its official base in Barcelona
August: AC40 training in Barcelona
September-October:
2x America’s Cup World Series events onboard the AC40
Selection and training sessions for the Youth and Women’s teams onboard the AC40
SailGP racing seasons 3 and 4 encompassing 14 Grand Prix events across 4 continents


2024:

January-July: End of SailGP season 4 and AC40 training in Barcelona
May: Launch and maiden sail of AC75 Orient Express
May-August inclusive: AC75 training and testing in Barcelona
June-July: 1x America’s Cup World Series onboard the AC75 in Barcelona
22 August: Launch of the 37th America’s Cup
September: Challenger Selection Series
October: Youth and Women’s America’s Cup and America’s Cup Match

For more information, please visit www.k-challenge.fr

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