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French Youth and Women's America's Cup team selections: first round complete

by Orient Express Racing Team 9 May 03:51 PDT

Nine women and eight young sailors - both men and women - have been nominated in the first round of the French Youth and Women's America's Cup team selection programme. The selection process was entrusted to Team France Association by Orient Express Racing Team, and conducted in collaboration with the French Sailing Federation.

Between 22 August and October 2024, Barcelona will not only play host to the Challenger Selection Series, the America's Cup Match between defender Emirates Team New Zealand and the official Challenger, but also the third edition of the Youth America's Cup (mixed crews aged between 18 and 25), and the inaugural edition of the Women's America's Cup, with all-women crews. Three teams will fly the French Tricolour on the latest generation of foiling monohulls at these elite international events.

The recruitment process

A committee of experts pre-selected two groups made up of 19 female sailors on the one hand and 20 youth sailors - male and female - on the other based on observations during various events.

The 39 candidates were invited to a selection event at the Ecole Nationale de Voile and Sports Nautiques in Quiberon from the 13-19 April. At the end of the event the selection committee - made up of Guillaume Chiellino, National Technical Director of the French Sailing Federation, and Bruno Dubois, representative of Team France Association - nominated nine women and eight youth sailors based on reports from an observation committee.

On 31 December 2023, the final selection of the six youth and six female sailors who will make up the French Youth and Women's America's Cup teams will be submitted to the America's Cup event organiser.

The selections

Each group of candidates gathered in Quiberon for four days to take part in a series of activities under the watchful eye of officials from the French Sailing Federation, the Team France Association and Orient Express Racing Team, including skipper Quentin Delapierre and Franck Cammas.

A series of workshops

"Alongside Charles Dorange, who coordinated the process, we designed the activities around a series of workshops. While the emphasis was on sailing the ETF26, a foiling catamaran, and the Birdy Fish, a foiling monohull, each candidate also took psychomotor tests, underwent individual interviews, a physical aptitude test, and concluded with media training in French and English," said Thibaut Derville, member of the Team France Association - Filière d'Excellence and co-director of the Youth and Women's America's Cup teams.

The objective?

"Franck, Quentin, the other experts, and I observed the candidates' aptitude in each position onboard the boats both helming and as a crew member, their communication skills onboard, and their ability to work together. The various tests and interviews allowed us to gauge each candidate's motivation, their determination to perform and excel as a team, and their capacity for physical and mental endurance," said Bruno Dubois, member of the Team France Association, co-director of K-Challenge and Orient Express Racing Team sports director.

Who is on the team?

In each group, nine women and eight young sailors were selected, as well as one project coordinator, and reserve sailors.

The Women's team:

  • Aloise Retornaz: Bronze Medal, Tokyo Olympics, 470 - SN Sablais
  • Amélie Riou: 1st SailGP Sydney, Team France strategist - La Pelle Marseille
  • Audrey Ogerau: Vice World Champion, Nacra 15 - YC Monaco
  • Jessy Kampman: 2nd French Olympic Week, kitefoil, Double European Champion, 420 - SR Antibes
  • Lara Granier: 6th French Olympic Week, 49er FX, 2nd Youth Worlds, 470 - SR Antibes
  • Margaux Billy: 2nd Youth World Championships, Nacra 17 - YC La Grande Motte
  • Pauline Courtois: Double Match Race World Champion - CV St Aubin Elbeuf
  • Manon Audinet: 1st SailGP Saint Tropez, 8th Tokyo Olympics, Nacra 17 - St Georges Voile
  • Paola Amar: also in charge of team coordination and race rules - YC Cannes
  • Lou Berthomieux: 3rd European Championships, Nacra 17, 4th World Championships, Nacra 17 - SNO Nantes
  • Noa Ancian: World Youth Champion, Hobie 16, 8th European Championships, Nacra 17 - Catamaran C Noumea

The Youth team:

  • Enzo Balanger: 9th World Championships, Moth Senior, 3rd World Championships, 420, European Champion, Optimist - La Pelle Marseille
  • Matisse Pacaud: 4th World Championships, 470 Senior, European Champion and Youth World Champion, 470, 'best hope of the year' in France in 2022 - YC Cannes
  • Théo Revil: ISAF World Champion, 29er, 4th Youth World Championships, 49er - CNBPP
  • Titouan Pétard: Silver Medal, 2018 Youth Olympic Games, Nacra15 - CN Arradon
  • Ange Delerce: Vice World Champion, 420 Open, European Champion, 420 - SR Antibes
  • Clément Cron: Winner, 2021 Tour de France à la Voile, Diam 24, winner 69F Europe Cup - La Rochelle Nautique
  • Mathilde Lovadina: 6th Youth World Championships, 49er FX - YCPR
  • Leo Maurin: Vice-Champion Youth World Championships, Nacra 17, 5th European Championships, Nacra 17 Senior - Brest Bretagne Nautisme
  • Gauthier Tailleu: Match Racing European Champion (also in charge of team coordination) - BN La Palmyre
  • Alex Kowalski: 3rd European Youth Championships, ILCA 7, Esailing World Champion (also in charge of Data for both teams) - Brest Bretagne Nautisme
  • Lou Mourniac: World Champion and vice-European Champion, Nacra 15 - ASN Quiberon
Louis Romieux, vice-president of Team France and co-director of the Youth and Women's America's Cup teams said: "The entire pre-selected group was present because there was such strong potential. It was not easy to draw up the list that we are presenting to you today. All the candidates have exceptional sporting profiles and prodigious personal or academic records, plus an excellent sense of team spirit. In France, we have a pool of incredible sailors who just need support to perform. The Team France Association, alongside partners such as Nextworld, are delighted with the success of the Filière d'Excellence which is at the heart of our mission. We will work hard to train these two groups of sailors ahead of the competition in September 2024 and form a very strong team, united and equipped to win the Youth and Women's America's Cup!"

Guillaume Chiellino, National Technical Director of the French Sailing Federation, added: "Like the Olympic Games, the America's Cup is one of the major events in world sailing. It is the Holy Grail for any sailor. We are fortunate today that the America's Cup has events for young people and for women. Technical staff from the FFVoile participated in the selection process, and it is a unique opportunity for us to train our sportsmen and women at this level of competition, on boats as demanding as the AC40s, which are real flying machines. The selection for the youth and women's teams was very difficult as the level of excellence among the candidates was very high. At the FFVoile we are convinced that this circuit is complementary to the Olympics, and we have identified some great champions who could win the Olympic Games and the America's Cup in the same year! Today we are happy and proud to unveil the names of these men and women who will have the chance to take part in this extraordinary competition which promises the sailors an incredible sporting experience and the public an outstanding spectacle."

What's next?

The Team France Association - Filière d'Excellence has already entered the two teams in various competitions over the coming months to maximise their experience on foiling boats ahead of sailing the AC40 foiling monohull, the official boat for the Youth and Women's America's Cup.

The youth sailors will focus on racing the 69F, a one-design foiling monohull. Their campaign starts today with the Youth Foiling Gold Cup in La Grande Motte, France. And in July (10-15) they will travel to Kingston, Canada, for the next leg of this circuit.

The women's team will compete on the ETF26 at Foiling Week from 28 June to 1 July on Lake Garda, Italy, and then potentially on the 69F at the Women's Foiling Gold Cup at the end of August.

The regatta programme will be interspersed with training sessions onboard the GC32, the Orient Express Racing Team simulator, and training onboard the AC40 on the Barcelona race course.

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