The list of 13 sailors includes several world, European, match racing and youth champions, and Olympic sailors across a range of yacht racing disciplines.
Their selection followed a near year-long programme of assessment which involved a collaboration between France’s challenger for the America’s Cup the Orient Express Racing Team, the French Sailing Federation, the Ecole Nationale de Voile et des Sports Nautiques, and Team France.
Teams from the two squads will race the Women’s and Youth America’s Cup regattas aboard the latest generation of AC40 foiling monohulls in Barcelona in September and October 2024, when they will compete against 11 other national teams.
Bruno Dubois, Orient Express Racing Team co-CEO and sports director, said: “There’s no doubt that the 14 December will remain in our minds. Announcing to the women and young people we’ve been working with for 10 months now that they have or haven’t been selected is obviously a very important moment in everyone’s life.
“There is joy for some and disappointment for others. With the working committee, made up of members of the Team France association, the French Sailing Federation and the Orient Express Racing Team, we would like to thank all the candidates who took part in the selection trials for the quality of their commitment.”
The seven women selected for the Orient Express – L’Oréal Racing TeamWomen’s America’s Cup squad are:
- Skipper: Manon Audinet – 1st Spain Sail Grand Prix I Cadiz, 8th at the Olympic Games Tokyo Nacra 17 (St Georges Voile)
- Pauline Courtois – Double Match Race World Champion (CV St Aubin Elbeuf)
- Lara Granier – 6th French Olympic Week 49er FX, 2nd Youth Worlds 470 (SR Antibes)
- Jessie Kampman – 2nd French Olympic Week kitefoil, Double European Champion in 420 (SR Antibes)
- Audrey Ogereau – Vice World Champion Nacra 15 (YC Monaco)
- Aloïse Retornaz – Bronze medallist in the 470 at the Tokyo Olympics (SN Sablais)
- Amélie Riou – 1st France Sail Grand Prix I Saint-Tropez, 1st Australia Sail Grand Prix I Sydney (La Pelle Marseille)
And the six young sailors — one woman and five men aged between 18 and 25 — selected for the Orient Express – L’Oréal Racing Team Youth America’s Cup squad are:
- Skipper: Enzo Balanger – 9th World Senior Moth, 3rd World 420, European Optimist Champion (La Pelle Marseille)
- Ange Delerce – Open 420 World Vice-Champion, 420 European Champion (SR Antibes)
- Lou Mourniac – World Champion and European Vice-Champion in Nacra 15 (ASN Quiberon)
- Matisse Pacaud – 4th in the Senior 470 World Championship, European Champion and Youth 470 World Champion, best hope of 2022 in France (YC Cannes)
- Théo Revil – ISAF 29er World Champion, 4th young 49er world champion (CNBPP)
- Gaultier Tallieu – European Match Racing Champion (BN La Palmyre)
Alexandre KOWALSKI will work ashore as data analyst for both teams.
Last winter a shortlist of two groups of 19 female sailors and 20 young men and women was drawn up, based on observations and results from previous competitions. The 39 aspiring sailors were then invited to attend a course at the Ecole Nationale de Voile et des Sports Nautiques in Quiberon, from which nine women and eight young sailors were selected. Following that phase the two groups were observed competing aboard the 69F or ETF26 foiling boats, as well as taking part in three training courses in Barcelona.
Thibaut Derville, a member of the Team France – Filière d’Excellence association and co-director of the Youth and Women’s Orient Express – L’Oréal Racing Teams, said: “The teams that are going to compete at this level — and we’re not underestimating the competition, which is bound to be fierce — are going to have to be excellent on the water and at handling flying boats, strong minded, and able to work collectively and trust each other blindly, since on an AC40 the sailors can’t see what’s happening on the opposite tack.”
From January the two teams will be based in Barcelona for an initial work session followed by a number of competitions on the 69F circuit and the ETF26, as well as sailing sessions aboard the AC40 and virtual sessions on the Orient Express Racing Team simulator.
The Youth America’s Cup takes place from 26 September to 2 October, 2024, while the Women’s America’s Cup is from 10 to 16 October.
ADDITIONAL QUOTES FOR MEDIA:
Jean-Luc Denechau, President of the Fédération Française de Voile (French Sailing Federation): “One of the missions of the Fédération Française de Voile is to train and support young people and women to reach the highest level. This could be in the Olympics, ocean racing or the prestigious America’s Cup. France is one of the best sailing nations in the world, and it is a great pleasure to present the Orient Express – L’Oréal Racing Team squads for the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup capable of shining in Barcelona from 26 September to 16 November 2024”.
Louis Romieux, vice-president of the Team France Association and co-director of the Youth and Women’s Orient Express – L’Oreal Racing Teams: “The teams of Team France – an association whose essence is to support and develop French excellence in crewed sailing at the highest international level – are extremely proud to have taken part in this detection and selection process, supported by Hervé Berville, Secretary of State for the Sea and Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, Minister for Sport. All the candidates we met have exceptional sporting profiles and prodigious personal or academic profiles, with, what’s more, a great team spirit.
“Right up until the competitions start in September 2024, we’re going to be working hard to train these two groups of sailors to form a very strong team, united and armed to win the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup!”
Stephan Kandler, founder of K-Challenge and co-CEO of Orient Express Racing Team: “Enabling women and young people to express their skills on an equal footing is one of the key missions of K-Challenge and our partners, particularly the Accor and L’Oréal groups and NextWorld Philanthropies.
“We are delighted to have these two competitions — Youth and Women’s — on the calendar for the 37th America’s Cup. They have enabled us to set up a detection and selection programme, in collaboration with Team France and the French Sailing Federation, and to discover personalities and strong potential.
“In addition to these competitions and the ambitious sporting objectives that motivate the Orient Express Racing Team, it is also a question of passing on and helping the group and our company to progress on major issues”.