Thursday, February 22, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupOrient Express Racing Team set sail in Jeddah

Orient Express Racing Team set sail in Jeddah

Following their strong showing at the first America’s Cup preliminary regatta in Vilanova i la Geltrú in September the Orient Express Racing Team are hoping for a repeat performance in Jeddah next week although the team remains realistic about results considering the amount of time the sailors have had onboard the AC40.

The French challenger for the 2024 America’s Cup proved a surprise package with their new AC40 foiling race boat in Vilanova, Spain, in the summer when they claimed a third-place podium finish on their debut competitive outing after only 12 days with the yacht.

Now relocated to the Red Sea port city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia the race team of Quentin Delapierre, Kevin Peponnet, Matthieu Vandame and Jason Saunders are focused on the second preliminary event with racing from Thursday 30 November to Saturday 2 December.

“We are approaching the regatta with the aim of performing well and taking every opportunity that we can, even if the result isn’t an end in itself,” said coach Thierry Douillard.

“In Vilanova, we were in discovery mode, with just 12 days of training on the AC40 before the regatta. Since then, the crew has had two and a half weeks of training in Barcelona before the boat left for Jeddah by cargo ship a month ago.

“We worked mainly on performance and reproducing the playbook manoeuvres more smoothly. We’ve made good progress on that point,” he added, noting that high-intensity training also continued on the team’s simulator.

The weather conditions expected on the Red Sea, where high temperatures can produce strong sea breezes, should enable the AC40s to get on their foils and fly above the water.

It’s a prospect that delights AC40 pilot Quentin Delapierre: “We should have thermal breezes, probably between 10 and 20 knots, which we really enjoy. With Kevin, Matthieu and Jason, we’re focused on approaching this second preliminary regatta with the right mindset. We were quite happy with the result at the Vilanova event, but we’re pushing hard to make further progress.”

And he added: “We also have secondary objectives which are just as important in the long term, such as setting up all our performance processes, in particular data analysis and the way it’s fed back to the sailors. Franck (Cammas) will be helping us with this.”

And he added: “This regatta will also help us to work together under pressure, to try to be as efficient as possible while operating in the simplest possible way.”

Delapierre and co-pilot Peponnet, and trimmers Vandame and Saunders, now have six days before the practice races to acclimatise to the race course before the three days of competition.

The Jeddah event marks the last competitive fleet outing for the AC40s before the final preliminary regatta, which will be raced aboard AC75s, at the end of August 2024 in Barcelona, as a prelude to the Louis Vuitton Challenger Selection Series and the 37th America’s Cup.

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