A French team has announced its withdrawal from the 34th America’s Cup and from the America’s Cup World Series 2011/2012 circuit.
The move has been rumoured for some time and occurs just before the start of the 2012 America's Cup World Series.
Aleph–Equipe de France is currently ranked third in fleet racing and seventh in match racing for the 2011/2012 America’s Cup World Series championship. The team represented the Aleph Yacht Club.
The move reduces the America's Cup World Series ranks to nine teams, including the Larry Ellison backed Ben Ainslie Racing (GBR) which will compete only in ACWS events. It is not known whether Aleph is on a sweetheart package from the America's Cup parties, or if they actually own their AC45. The team sailed in all three ACWS events in Cascais, Plymouth and San Diego, on what it is assumed was private funding as the sponsor search continued. In San Diego the team was claimed to be the smallest in the event with just just ten team members.
Aleph's sailing crew included: Pierre Pennec, skipper of the French AC45, who was joined by two of his regular crew from his Extreme Sailing Series team Groupe Edmond de Rothschild - Thierry Fouchier and Christophe Espagnon. Also on the Aleph sailing team was the young Swiss Moth sailor Arnaud Psarofaghis who has been trimming the wing on board Aleph. The fifth crew member was the Corsican sailor Nicholas Heintz who was be the forward hand.
Hugues Lepic, Chairman of Aleph – Equipe de France commented in the official statement from the team: 'Over the last two years we have endeavored to create a French challenge for the America’s Cup around the sporting, technical and managerial competencies that exist at the highest level of sailing in France. Our partner, the French Sailing Federation (FFV), supported the spirit of this initiative by awarding us the title of French National Team ('Equipe de France') for the 34th America’s Cup. The new format of the America’s Cup and the America’s Cup World Series circuit should have enabled us to attract sponsors and to finance a highly competitive French National Team. Although this new circuit is starting to fulfill its promises and in spite of very promising sporting results against the best teams, the economic environment does not allow us to go all the way to San Francisco in 2013.'
Philippe Ligot, CEO of Aleph – Equipe de France added: 'We fought hard, with all our drive and enthusiasm, to find a budget allowing us to participate in the final phase of the 34th America’s Cup. We did not want to compete with resources that would not allow us to credibly challenge the best teams. France has, without a doubt, all the sporting, technical and managerial talent to win the Cup but the current economic environment makes funding a commercial team extremely difficult. Over the last two years I lead, along with Bertrand Pacé and Marcus Hutchinson, a great team and I thank them all for their contributions. We also wish to warmly thank Jean-Pierre Champion, the Chairman of the French Sailing Federation (FFV), our partner since the start of our challenge, who has been such a strong supporter of Aleph – Equipe de France during this period.'
Bertrand Pacé, Sporting Director of Aleph - Equipe de France concluded: 'We are obviously extremely disappointed not to be able to continue on the America’s Cup World Series Circuit for 2011/2012 and not to compete in the final phase of the Cup. We are very proud of our current ranking against the best teams in the world. The AC45 is an exceptional boat and the America’s Cup World Series format is highly promising. With Alain Gautier and Fabrice Levet we had put together an extremely high level crew and technical team. Since November 2009 they have obtained excellent results in view of our resources.'
Aleph’s managerial team wishes to thank its various institutional partners: - Van Peteghem Lauriot Prevost in the area of naval architecture and technical design - North Sails France in the area of sails - Sportfive in the area of sport marketing - Leroy-Tremblot in the area of visual and graphic identity
Aleph – Equipe de France also wishes to thank the 34th America’s Cup organizing team: - Oracle Racing, the current Defender, - the Golden Gate Yacht Club, - America’s Cup Race Management and the America’s Cup Event Authority who have all been very supportive of our challenge.
Aleph has extended its best wishes to the Defender and all their our fellow Challengers for the 34th America’s Cup. The team hopes that it will be a spectacular event and that the America’s Cup World Series will continue to be a successful circuit for the highest level of sailing in the world. by Sail-World