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A flying start for Orient Express Racing Team's all-new AC40 in Barcelona

by Sabina Mollart Rogerson 22 Aug 2023 14:04 PDT 22 August 2023
Orient Express Racing Team's all-new AC40 first test sail in Barcelona © Martin Keruzore / OERT

The Orient Express Racing Team's newly arrived AC40 one-design foiling monohull has taken to the water — and the air — in her first test sail off the America's Cup venue in Barcelona.

After a 'tow test' at the weekend behind the team's chase boat to check and test the AC40's onboard systems, the full-on racing machine went into sailing mode today — with almost exactly a year to go to the America's Cup Challenger Selection Series.

Skipper and pilot Quentin Delapierre, fellow pilot Kevin Peponnet, and trimmers Matthieu Vandamme and Jason Saunders, were able to get their first hands-on experience aboard the yacht which will prove crucial in their preparation ahead of the arrival of the AC75 America's Cup race boat next year.

Despite light wind conditions the team were able to get the AC40 foiling clear above the calm waters off Barcelona during her first test sail.

"It felt really good - I was really happy that we were able to foil after towing out behind the RIB in just 6.5 knots," said Delapierre. "We need time to sail the boat now, to learn it and feel it. There will be a lot of sailing ahead in the coming weeks."

Saunders agreed: "It was awesome to get sailing here in Barcelona, just amazing to get out on this new boat and feel what it's really like.

"We would have been completely lost had we not had the simulator; it has been invaluable and we're really grateful that the design team managed to get that going for us. It has helped us a lot and now what will be interesting is matching what we have learned on the boat with the simulator so that we can make some changes and continue to train on that in parallel," he added.

The AC40 will also be the race boat for the Orient Express Racing Team Youth America's Cup and Women's America's Cup squads who will be competing in the run up to the America's Cup in 2024.

Team CEO Stephan Kandler said: "Sailing our AC40 is a major milestone for Orient Express Racing Team. It is very exciting and I'm extremely proud of the team - everyone has really pulled together to get the boat on the water and in the hands of the sailors as quickly as possible.

"We have come a long way in the eight months since welcoming our title sponsor Accor Group and its brands Orient Express and All.Com onboard which allowed us to challenge for the 37th America's Cup. We've been training with our simulator since the beginning of June, we've selected our challenger squads for the America's Cup, the Women's America's Cup and the Youth America's Cup and we are flat out building our AC75. This unique platform and team of experts is also enabling us to develop innovate technologies and R&D projects with a view to the ecological transition of mobility.

And he added: "While we know we have a lot of work to do, we have a positive outlook and the right people in the right positions within our tightknit team."

Team coach Thierry Douillard said: " The conditions were very light today, but we had just enough to get on the foils twice, and we managed to do some sailing and tick off what we wanted to achieve so it has been a very positive first day.

"Of course we have a huge amount to learn, but it was a good first step. We're looking forward to more typical conditions as the week evolves so we are green light go!"

The Orient Express Racing Team will now be focusing on the first Preliminary Regatta on the route to the 37th America's Cup which is being held from 14-17 September.

The event in Vilanova i La Geltru, just down the coast from Barcelona, will be the first occasion on which the America's Cup teams will compete against each other in their one-design AC40s, the first time the sailors have had the chance to go head-to-head in their new machines.

More about the team's activities:

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