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America's Cup: Orient Express reveal their AC75 in Barcelona

by Sabina MollartRogerson, Orient Express Racing 26 May 00:13 BST
Orient Express Racing Team reveal their new AC75 outside their base in Barcelona - May 25, 2024 © Orient Express Racing Team

For a rig-stepping test this morning, Orient Express Racing Team’s AC75 was wheeled out of the shed briefly during the early hours revealing France’s hope for the America’s Cup.

This is another huge milestone in the French project representing the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and driven by Stephan Kandler and Bruno Dubois, who dream of bringing the world’s oldest sporting trophy – the America’s Cup – to France for the first time.

It was a moment of emotion and pride for the team that have worked on the build of this boat for the past 9 months.

Men and women with unquestionable experience, living by the values of excellence and precision, from the most experienced to the very youngest, have all evolved and progressed with this project.

Antoine Carraz, Orient Express Racing Team's Technical Director, orchestrated the build, directing a team of 65 people. He gives his insight on the past 9 months.

"When we received the plans from the New Zealanders, from whom we bought the design pack, we first thought about how they would be implemented and the tools to be used.

"Our design office made some minor modifications; we didn't use the same processes as them. Then, for seven months from 3 September 2023 to the end of March, more than 65 people — 15 team members and 50 site employees — worked 6 days a week, from 06:00 to 22:00, in 2x8 hour shifts at the heart of the Multiplast site in Vannes. It was a real co-construction between their team and ours. Scheduling human resources was a major challenge in order to stay on schedule. In the end, construction was completed a week ahead of that schedule! This is a rare feat and I'd like to take my hat off to everyone involved!”

"There were three fairly standard phases: construction of the hull, deck and internal structures. Assembly of the structure. Decking. At the same time we had to make the mast and foils, plus a whole host of small parts. Some parts required extraordinary craftsmanship.

"The complexity of this construction also lay in the use of new high-tech materials, such as aluminium honeycomb, which is very light but quite difficult to work with.”

"To bring the Orient Express Racing Team together, it was decided to complete the preparation of our AC75 in Barcelona at the French base. This meant transferring the hull by road. A 5-day convoi exceptionnel criss-crossed its way through France and down to Catalonia in Spain. Then, as soon as we arrived on 6 April, the hydraulics, electricity and mechatronics departments took over the boat to install the cables, batteries, rams and other systems... This precision job took almost 7 weeks. Our AC75 is equipped with over 200 sensors that had to be installed, the sensors that send data back to shore or to the coach boat. These are essential performance tools.

"The sailors also came on board to position and adjust their own equipment. It's like a music score. Nothing can be off key!”

So where do we go from here?

"Right now, we are where we wanted to be. The commissioning phase for the various parts of the boat has begun. Static tests are being carried out. The rams are going to be fitted under load. We'll shortly be launching the boat to carry out the tow tests without sails and, finally, we'll be sailing her for the first time, probably at the beginning of June.”

As the sun came up over Barcelona, home to the 37th America’s Cup, the latest addition to the 75ft America’s Cup Class was revealed.

"It was a fabulous moment at sunrise to see our AC75 emerge from the shed. It was a special moment. Our boat is magnificent. Antoine Carraz's team have done an amazing job. It was a rush with a lot of things to manage. The boat came out of the tent perfectly!" said Quentin Delapierre, skipper and pilot of this high-tech foiling monohull.

"We can’t wait to put her on her foils next week. We've worked hard on the simulator and we're better prepared for the first sail on this boat than we were on the AC40 or even the LEQ. We've made progress in learning how to sail such a monohull. Of course, we're the least experienced on paper, but we've still got some training time left, which we're going to put to good use until 22 August!"

Technical specifications:

  • Overall length: 22.86m
  • Width: 5m
  • Mast height: 26m
  • Weight: 6.2t
  • Speed: approximately 50 knots
  • Sensors: over 200
  • Crew: 8 people (2 pilots, 2 trimmers, 4 power sailors)

Livery:

Hull: Midnight Blue, Saffron, Black Deck: White

Construction:

  • 65 people (50 employees of the Multiplast yard + 15 members of the Orient Express Racing Team)
  • 46,000 manhours
  • 7 months - from 3 September 2023 to 31 March 2024
  • Multiplast shipyard (Brittany - France)
  • Local economic spin-offs (shipyard, subcontractors, suppliers, team logistics)

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