The ACCOR hotel group has committed to French challenger, K-Challenge Racing, for the 37th America's Cup, naming its Orient Express brand as the official title partner for the K-Challenge team.
The team will be known as Orient Express Team during the 2024 Barcelona competition, in a bid to enhance the brand's maritime exposure following the construction of two Orient Express Silenseas sailing vessels by Chantiers de l'Atlantique.
Earlier this year, the organisers for the 37th America's Cup announced they had extended an invitation to the Société nautique de Saint-Tropez and their representative team, K-Challenge Racing, to participate in next year's America's Cup. Led by Stephane Kandler and Bruno Dubois, the French team will face four other challengers at the Challenger Selection Series in September 2024, including the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
CEO of K-Challenge Racing Stephane Kandler said of the news: "Bruno and I are very excited to join the other Challengers. We have been working behind the scenes for almost a year now and we are going to announce great things by the end of this month.”
K-Challenge has not participated in the America's Cup since 2007 at the 32nd edition held in Valencia.
“It is great to have the French now back in the America’s Cup as the 5th Challenger, and one that will no doubt bring a lot of typical character and flair to what is lining up to be a stunning event in Barcelona," said Grant Dalton, CEO of AC37 Event Limited. "France is such a prominent sailing nation but despite this, it is not a small undertaking to get an America’s Cup team up and running so I congratulate Stephane, Bruno and the Société nautique de Saint-Tropez who have been working away tirelessly to get to this point.”
Orient Express Team has entered into a technology agreement with the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, which aims to minimise lost development time as a consequence of being a late entry.
According to Kandler, this technological partnership will allow Orient Express Team to compete on equal footing with competitors by supplying "a latest generation design package to work from", which the team will use to create its own AC75 in France.
The AC75, a 20.7-metre foiling monohull capable of reaching speeds over 54 knots, has served as the official America's Cup boat since the previous competition. The AC57 Orient Express is currently being built in collaboration with several notable French shipyards and is scheduled to launch in spring 2024.
"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," Dubois specified.
Kandler added that in addition to a positive economic effect, this opportunity stood to benefit "the enhancement of the country and the entire sector," owing to the number of technological innovations that might stem from the project.
Holding the event in Barcelona means the city will become the first venue to host both an Olympic Games and an America's Cup. In addition, the 2024 event will be the first edition to incorporate a dedicated Women's America's Cup regatta. Dates for the 37th America's Cup were announced earlier this year, with two races scheduled on each of the four official racing days.Read More/America's Cup explained in 3 easy points