Orient Express Racing Team’s America’s Cup boat makes its debut flight

In what has been a week of firsts, and following a series of static and towed tests on Tuesday, Thursday 6 June saw the French racing team get their first taste of flying aboard their 23m AC75 foiling monohull in which they will challenge for the 37th America’s Cup.

Pilots Quentin Delapierre and Kevin Peponnet, trimmers Matthieu Vandame and Jason Saunders, and the power sailors in charge of supplying the energy onboard — Olivier Herlédant, François Pervis, Rémi Verhoeven and Germain Chardin — were delighted with the experience, and with the benefit of valuable time spent on the team’s simulator, the race crew were able to put in a 4.5 hour sailing session.

She flies, she flies! We saw 40 to 42 knots without even pushing it,” said Kevin Peponnet. “We ticked off a lot of things. We took our time with the sails. Everything went well. We managed to fly on both tacks and even tack while flying. It was really cool. The power sailors, for whom it was a big first, were all smiles. We’ve got a great tool in our hands. We still have a lot of things to do, but there’s a lot of potential.”

An equally enthusiastic skipper and fellow pilot Quentin Delapierre added: “This is a great moment for the team. The day before, with the management, I asked them to push to get going. These boats are complex machines. You have to get out of your comfort zone, even if you know that everything isn’t perfect. We were right to do so. The boat knows how to fly. It knows how to tack while flying. The power sailors gave us good energy. It’s a great milestone for the whole team.”

The most recent and final addition to the AC75 class and America’s Cup fleet took to the waters off Barcelona in a moment made possible by nine months of hard work by the talented Orient Express Racing Team shore, technical and support staff.

“A bit of emotion tonight. Just great!” said 2D and 3D engineer Arthur Bois following the inaugural sail. “A few months ago in Vannes, it was time for the first folds of carbon, the first parts, and here we are witnessing the first flight. So cool. I’m really pleased with how far the team has come.  But the work isn’t over yet… it just doesn’t stop! But now we’re savouring it…”

Mechatronics engineer Céline Le Berre added: “I’m really happy! It’s great. The last few weeks have been really intense.  We knew we had something good in our hands. We had to do all the calibrations correctly. Everything had to be just right so that the sailors would have a great tool in their hands. We’ve reached a good milestone today.”

Orient Express Racing Team will be spending every possible moment out on the AC75, gaining experience ahead of the final Preliminary Regatta which starts in Barcelona on 22 August, and then Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robins from 29 August



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