Thursday, March 20, 2008

First presentation of “Team French Spirit”, French challenger for the 34th America’s Cup

[Source: French Spirit] The prestigious Yacht Club de France welcomed Team French Spirit for the first presentation of its core team and programme at the Club’s headquarter in Paris. Marc Pajot, President and team manager, was pleased to present its long term programme and to introduce two key members of its team : Philippe Presti and Bertrand Pacé.

The future of the Cup is now appearing more clearly. While the 33rd America’s Cup will be a duel between Alinghi and BMW Oracle Challenge, Team French Spirit is now preparing the basics of its challenge for the 34th Cup, which should take place in Valencia in 2011.

Philippe Presti signed up as skipper

“The arrival of Philippe Presti in the team is a significant step, which I’m particularly pleased about. Philippe is an outstanding sportsman with the skills and experience to fulfil the aspirations of our project.” This is how Marc Pajot welcomed Presti joining the team.

Philippe Presti is a member of the French Match-Racing Team and competed in the last Cup with the Luna Rossa Challenge, reaching the Louis Vuitton Cup final. Philippe was also skipper and helmsman of Defi Areva in 2003 in New Zealand. A talented yachtsman, he holds two World Champion titles (1993 & 96) in the Finn Class, was World Champion runner up in the Soling Class in 2000 and twice French Match-Racing Vice Champion. “This is an amazing opportunity for me to prepare the core of a high performance French team from a very early stage. The new AC 90 Measurement Rule will produce a larger and more physical boat, so teamwork will play an even greater role in the future” comments the skipper of French Spirit.

Philippe Presti will be in charge of the sailing team and he will proceed immediately with recruiting its members. Many of them are already members of the French Sailing Federation’s (FFV) match race team or racing aboard well known offshore units. A training programme based on the match racing circuits, the TP52 and GP42 events is set up.

Bertrand Pacé, a key member

“At the helm, Bertrand is a pure talent. On the other hand, his great experience in preparing and fine-tuning large high-tech racing yachts will be of tremendous value to the team” specifies Marc Pajot.

Bertrand, 44, a fully trained engineer, is certainly the most experienced French America’s Cup helmsman. One could say he is almost married with the Cup ! His first campaign was with French Kiss in 1985. Since then, he was navigator aboard Ville de Paris in 1992, tactician in 1995 with France 2, helmsman with 6e Sens in 2000. Helmsman, then tactician, of Team New Zealand’s B boat in 2003 and, eventually, co-helmsman with BMW Oracle during the most recent edition in Valencia.
Four times with French challengers and twice with Anglo-Saxon teams : Bertrand Pacé is most likely to be the best French specialist of the America’s Cup.

He is going to throw in all its energy and experience to enable French Spirit in achieving its ambitious goals : “As the saying goes : in the Cup, when you have the money, then time is getting short !” says Bertrand. “That’s why it Is so essential to get started right now with all the design and technical work related to the development of the new yachts.”

Although Bertrand Pacé will be helmsman Nr 1, his more immediate mission will be to supervise the development and testing programme of our new AC 90 (see below).

Putting together the basic structure of a great French team.

During the Press Conference, Marc Pajot did develop his philosophy and concept to set up an efficient French America’s Cup Team, a team “Acting with conviction, that’s not going to put limits to its ambitions, a team admired by its supporters and feared by other competitors.”

With the new measurement rule everyone is starting all over in terms of design and development. Team French Spirit intends to unite the best talents and know-how in these domains in order to develop its future AC 90. In an innovative approach, Team French Spirit opens a “designer contest” to identify the right people, technological support, etc.

Team French Spirit is currently operating with a basic budget of 4 million euros, fully funded by private individuals who are supporting Marc Pajot to reach a fully operational level. With the future participation of sponsors and partners, the total overall budget is estimated to reach 50 to 60 million euros.

The challenging club

The Team French Spirit Challenge is made under the burgee of the Yacht Club de Saint Tropez.The project is also getting the support of the City of Saint Tropez.

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