America’s Cup : Team France’s Multifaceted Approach to Victory

“One person cannot do everything…” says Stephen Kandler, who is Team Principal of France’s Orient Express Racing Team challenge in the 37th America’s Cup this October. But nor can a single technology which is why the French team is drawing on planes, trains, and automobiles to find a winning formula.

How has France gained a technological edge in its America’s Cup challenge?

Stephen Kandler credits French industry and technology for his country’s ability to bid to win the America’s Cup. The trophy will be fought for off the coast of Barcelona between August and October. Kandler cites the need to master the ultra-competitive and random environment of sailing as vital to stimulating creativity and the capacity for innovation. With his co-partner, Bruno Dubois, he is learning from K-Challenge, a sports technology incubator he founded. K-Challenge brings together the best French athletes, engineers, technicians, and experts with the ultimate objective of winning the biggest international sailing competitions, including the oldest sporting trophy in the world: the America’s Cup. But Kandler does not believe France has all the answers.




From where does France’s Orient Express Racing Team draw its inspiration?

Kandler was so impressed by Team New Zealand’s winning the America’s Cup with its foiling craft that he bought the design technology from Team New Zealand’s leader, Grant Dalton. Such cooperation works both ways: A month before the first America’s Cup race in 1851, the yacht “America” was fitted out in France. Kandler also learned that Team New Zealand used simulators for training, an idea the French team has now adopted to replicate the human-machine interfaces in competitive sailing. The simulator allows the sailing crew to test and develop maneuvers, set-ups, and communication before they apply them on the boat. Vitally and virtually, they will have already experienced simulations balancing between control of the boat and its speed.




“An America’s Cup team has more demands than the aerospace or Formula 1”

What are the benefits of technology cross-fertilization in the America’s Cup?

Aerospace, sailing, and Formula 1 racing have learned from each other that stripping down design to the bare essentials and adding technology reduces weight while increasing speed. Kandler says, “An America’s Cup team has more demands than the aerospace or Formula 1. Those industries manage only movement through the air: We manage it both air and water.” Such cross-fertilization is inspiring France’s sponsors. Famed for their opulent trains, the company is changing tack. In 2026 they will take delivery of the world’s largest sailing ship. The Orient Express Silenseas will ply the seas not in the Spartan style of a racing yacht but in the sumptuous luxury of the famous rail transport.