Energy Team (FRA) have announced they have concluded a licence agreement with Oracle Racing to purchase a base-line AC72 design package,
The move is a strong indicator that the team will become a full-blown Challenger for the 34th America's Cup, and they say they will become the fifth team intending to build an AC72.
Energy Team is led by the iconic Peyron brothers Loick and Bruno, While both are extremely accomplished sailors Bruno has slipped into the mould of handling the business side of the team, while Loick handles the sailing program.
Their maxi trimaran Banque Populaire recently chopped 2 days 18hours of the circumnavigation speed record, in what appeared to be an effortless cruise. the Jules Verne Trophy win did no harm to the team's profile both with fans and potential sponsors - demonstrating the pulling power that could be rolled over into the America's Cup
'This agreement will change a lot of things and there are three immediate consequences for us,' said Bruno Peyron.
'Firstly, it will allow us to make up for lost time in terms of technological developments in comparison to the top teams, some of which have been working on their projects for more than two years. If we manage to do that, it will allow us to reach the final phase with a boat that can perform extremely well. To finish, the savings in time and money we would have spent on research and development, mean that we can offer the partners we are currently in talks with, an extremely competitive project in terms of communication and return on investment.'
The release from the team goes on to talk about how technology transfer is a key cost-containment feature of 2013 America’s Cup, to be staged in San Francisco. But possibly the most remarkable part of the Energy Team announcement is the statement that they believe they can mount a Challenge that will make the Louis Vuitton Finals for just 15-16 million Euros, which about 20% of the amount reckoned to be a typical AC72 budget.
The French team say they are 'licensing a base-line design package for an AC72 class race boat from the America’s Cup champion.'
In plain language that means that their boat will not be from the generic package developed for teams who wished to do the America's Cup on a budget. Instead they will purchase a package from Oracle Racing in the same way that the Italian Challenger, Luna Rossa bought a base package from Emirates Team New Zealand.
That move triggered two cases to be heard by the International Jury, seeking to determine how much co-operation was permitted between teams that had shared technology.
The initial case was bought by Oracle Racing, who said they were contemplating working with a team that was only identified as 'Competitor B'. At the time that team was either thought to be a hypothetical competitor, but it now seems that it could have been Energy Team. The outcome of the case was that the International Jury painted the sidelines on the field of play for teams who wished to work together.
These applied particularly to teams that wanted to buy a basic one boat package to which they would build, and then tune up against the team from whom they purchased the base design, with one or both teams going on to build a second AC72.
Rules for the 2013 America’s Cup allow for the sale and purchase of designs between teams or from the America's Cup organiser's own Shared Design Program prior to 1 January 2013.
From comments in the statement it is clear that Energy Team have not formally entered the America's Cup - they have until 1 June 2012 to lodge an entry and pay the USD100,000 fee. However that is mere icecream money in the grand scheme of America's Cup budgets.
The purpose of the purchase, and more importantly the announcement, is to show to potential sponsors that the team has made a committment to the 34th America's Cup, and are using the time they have available to progress the design/develop/sail facets of the campaign rather than waiting until the ink is dry on all sponsorship agreements before winding the campaign to full speed.
There is no mention of a wingsail design in the package , however presumably this has been included. neither does it say where the wingsaail will be constructed - whether it is a wingsail package from Southern Spars, or if it will be constructed by Multiplast, the nominated builder of the AC72 for Energy Team.
Ironically the announcement of the relationship with Oracle Racing comes on the back of an announcement earlier this week, that a second French team Aleph would be pulling out of the America's Cup World Series and the America's Cup itself.
by Richard Gladwell
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11:02 AM Thu 5 Apr 2012GMT
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