A French team will compete in the 35th America’s Cup with the confirmation of Groupama Team France launching its bid.
Three French sailors – Franck Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson – have joined forces to form Groupama Team France. Each has won crewed and single-handed competitions, and now the trio has set their sights on bringing the America’s Cup to France for the first time.
Franck Cammas has been partnered with French insurance company Groupama since 1998, winning the Route du Rhum, Jules Verne Trophy and the Volvo Ocean Race. According to the newly formed French America’s Cup team, “Groupama is committing to a project to bring about national unity.”
French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian has reportedly been a primary support of the new team since the beginning. “France is the second largest maritime region in the world and yet a French crew has never won the America’s Cup,” he said at the press conference announcing the bid.
“That has to change! By joining forces, Franck, Michel and Olivier are opening up a new way forward that involves solidarity, excellence and sharing. It’s by approaching this as a group that we will win the Cup and the French Navy will have played a part”.
This news brings the total number of teams competing for the world’s oldest trophy to six, joined by Cup Defenders Team Oracle USA and fellow Challengers from Sweden, Japan, the UK and New Zealand.
As Boat International reported earlier this year, the dramatic rule change in AC yachts design could mean many more teams trying for the America’s Cup in 2017. This change saw racing move from the AC62s yachts prescribed in the initial 35th America’s Cup protocol to new, cheaper AC48 boats.
The move was made in part to encourage more teams to join to the fray. With Japan announcing its America’s Cup challenge in April, followed by French bid this week, the move seems to be working to attract new blood to the competition.
The first America’s Cup World Series event will kick off in Portsmouth, UK, July 23-26.