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Groupama Team France lifts the veil on its Test AC Class boat

by Groupama Team France 16 Jul 2016 13:01 BST 11 July 2016
Groupama Team France lifts the veil on its Test AC Class yacht © Eloi Stichelbaut

A genuine laboratory boat and fraternal twin to the AC Class

The Test AC Class (13.45m) unveiled in Lorient, Brittany, on Monday 11 July 2016 and christened by the four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost, is a genuine 'laboratory' boat. This is not the boat that will defend France's colours in a year's time, rather it is a virtual carbon copy. Indeed, this foiling prototype will be used for training on Breton waters from July to late December 2016, so as to enable Groupama Team France to validate the technical choices made since October 2015. Equally and above all, it will enable the team to continue making developments and decisions regarding the construction of future parts and systems, which will translate across to the AC Class. The latter, which will compete in Bermuda in 2017, will simply have hulls that are 1.5-metre longer.

The America's Cup protocol prohibits the AC Class (50-foot or 15 metres) from sailing prior to 26 December 2016. In order to train and validate their developments, the six competing teams – one Defender and five Challengers – have built prototypes, which are a 90% replica of the AC Class on which they'll race during the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda.

Groupama Team France has also brought into play this so called Test AC Class catamaran (formerly called an AC45 Turbo). Aside from shorter hulls, everything is exactly alike.

The shape of the hull below the waterline, the beam and the sail area, the cockpits and also the Pod on which the wing sits are one-designs, hence identical to its big AC Class brother.

Designed under the leadership of the German talent Martin Fischer by thirty or so top-flight naval architects and engineers – including the Franco-Argentinian Juan Kouyoumdjian and Brazilian Horacio Carabelli – she has been built by the Multiplast and Décision yards in under six months.

The structure of the wing, the appendages (rudders and foils), the electronic and hydraulic control systems and the fairings are free of constraint. Moreover, the latter are inspired by the double C-Class champion from the Little America's Cup sailed by Franck Cammas and Louis Viat in 2013 and 2015... and provide a gain of a few knots upwind thanks to a reduction in aerodynamic drag.

The Test AC Class Groupama Team France, which will put in her first tacks off Lorient, her port of registry, must not only validate the extremely complicated servo-control foil systems, but also enable the crew supporting Franck Cammas to optimise the flight, which we now know will be the key to victory in the 35th America's Cup.

Main characteristics:

  • Type: foiling prototype catamaran and fixed wing
  • Naval architects: Groupama Team France Design Team
  • Constructors: Groupe Carboman (Multiplast and Décision) for the hulls and the Pod and the aft section of the wing, Core Builders Composites for the forward section of the wing, King Marine for the daggerboard and fairing systems, Lorima for the bowsprit, CDK for the wing system and Heol Composites for the appendages.
  • Material: carbon
  • LOA: 13.45 metres
  • Beam: 8.47 metres
  • Displacement: 2.45 tonnes
  • Water draught: 2.40 metres
  • Wing height: 23.60 metres
  • Wing surface: 101 square metres
  • Upwind sail area: 137 square metres
  • Peak speed: 40 to 50 knots
The Test AC Class Groupama Team France in figures:
  • 2 - The speed gain upwind thanks to the aft fairings
  • 3 - The number of different jibs according to the wind
  • 6 - The number of crew aboard
  • 10 - The number of kilos of paint used
  • 50 - The number of engineers, technicians, constructors... who have worked on building the boat
  • 525 - The total weight of the crew
  • 4,000 - The surface area in terms of carbon material used in square metres
  • 12,000 - The number of hours required to build the wing
  • 23,000 - The number of hours required to build the platform
Alain Prost, patron of the Test AC Class Groupama Team France

The Test AC Class was christened on Monday 11 July in Lorient, Groupama Team France's port of registry, in the presence of Franck Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux, Olivier de Kersauson, all the team, Norbert Métairie, Mayor of Lorient and President of Lorient Agglomération, Jean-Yves Le Drian, President of the Breton region and the public.

A speed freak and fan of high-tech, as well as a passionate and exciting man has agreed to be patron to the French challenge. Alain Prost, four-time F1 world champion, current director of the Renault e.dams racing stable, is thus supporting the French team in its quest for the Silver Ewer that rewards the America's Cup winner.

Alain Prost, patron of Groupama Team France: "What's important for me is the human, technological, regional and national challenge. They are important projects for a country. There are only six syndicates, one of which is French. In France, we have incredible technology and we must find the right synergies. I don't have any experience of flight; I'm longing to go sailing!"

A festive christening ceremony for all

Graced by the presence of the Elite troops with the school of Airborne Troops in Pau, Marine Commandos and the flying board, this ceremony shone a spotlight on performance, precision and the imaginative world of flight, a key feature of this latest generation boat of which the Test AC Class is very much a part.

For all that, Groupama Team France was keen for this celebration to be a simple, festive and social celebration so as to share it with the maximum amount of people. In this way, special pyrotechnics, confetti, a concert for the public and a wealth of entertainment were organised to satisfy this common desire. #TousPourlaCoupe

Quotes:

Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama Team France: "Sailing is a thrilling sport. We started the project three years ago with Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson with a view to conquering the America's Cup. Today, we're presenting to you the first Groupama Team France creation. A catamaran, which required 35,000 man-hours and even more in the design office. Our team is made up of 70 people from 12 different nationalities; there are a great many skills across all the different departments: design, construction, performance, shore team and also management and logistics.The Cup is a tough nut to crack in the sense that we have to beat the world's best crews, people who have a lot of talent. We need to be rigorous, persevering and innovative. Thank you to all our partners for their support and thank you to you all for coming out in force this evening."

Olivier de Kersauson:"It's fantastic; with this boat we'll move up from calculation to measurement. It's about applying intelligence in our quest for performance. Creating the fastest boat of its age, that's the original spirit of the Cup."

Michel Desjoyeaux:"Today is an intermediate step on a technical scale, but it's so important for Groupama Team France, who can share this moment with a wide audience, an audience that has come here this evening in great number! It's very encouraging for us all to have the commitment and support of so many!"

Norbert Métairie, Mayor of Lorient and President of Lorient Agglomération: "The French crewed sailing team's foothold in Lorient comes as further proof of the project's relevance and the investment made in the site over the past 15 years by virtue of the marine network and its businesses."

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence and President of the Breton region: Groupama Team France is aiming to hunt down and bring back to France the oldest sporting trophy and the only major sporting event that our country is yet to win. It's the strength of a group that will lead us forward to success. Indeed, as in the automobile domain, incredible technical advances in the competitive sailing benefit the whole of French industry. Brittany and France are at the heart of these innovations. The spirit of adventure, which has taken France offshore and is part of Brittany's DNA, must again guide us towards the America's Cup."

Thierry Martel, CEO of Groupama: "In a France that is seeking to find itself at times and occasionally doubts itself and can be pessimistic, positioning oneself around a project which aims to showcase the country's excellence and its ability to win is a fantastic image. It's a very proud moment for the Groupama group. What we're hoping for is that this pride becomes countrywide. The fact that our brand, which is established at the heart of the regions, is today carrying the country's flag in a bid to give French excellence global visibility is superb and highly motivating".

Thibaut Derville, Member of the Norauto Strategic Committee, Belgian CEO: "On this festive occasion,Norauto naturally wishes to congratulate the sailors and all those, in the heat and noise of the workshops, who have made this possible. In this way, Norauto is very proud to contribute to the cutting-edge technology and to take the teams' operational requirements to a whole new level. For us car service specialists, having Alain Prost as patron of the project is a great delight and a nod in the direction of our brand."

Jean-Yves Dagès, President of Groupama: "Thank you all for your support for Groupama Team France, its sailors and all the teams who are working alongside them and who will be able to do double the work with this spectacular new boat. We are all very much behind you in the bid to bring the Cup back to France."