Orient Express Racing Team Joins AC75 Fleet

Orient Express Racing Team reveals its AC75 in Barcelona after a nine-month build in France. Now the sailing work begins.
Orient Express Racing Team's AC75
Orient Express Racing Team’s AC75 is “Boat One” for the first-time America’s Cup challenger. Alexander Champy-McLean / Orient Express Racing Team

The 37th America’s Cup AC75 fleet is now complete with the soft launch of Orient Express Racing Team’s AC75 in France last week. The French syndicate, which was a late addition to the challenger field, is the beneficiary of a starter design package from the defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, so it’s no surprise that the blue boat bears similar traits to the New Zealand’s teams own AC75 Taihoro.

The boat will be officially christened on Wednesday, May 29, in Barcelona, but last week’s brief roll-out was reported to be to run through the rig stepping procedures. Nine months of boat building at the Multiplast shipyard in Brittany, France, produced a state-of-the-art 75-footer that will serve as “Boat One” for the aspiring French team that seeks to play the role of spoiler come the start of the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series in late August.

“When we received the plans from the New Zealanders, from whom we bought the design pack, we first thought about how they would be implemented and the tools to be used,” says Antoine Carraz, Orient Express Racing Team’s Technical Director. “Our design office made some minor modifications; we didn’t use the same processes as them. Then, for seven months from 3 September 2023 to the end of March, more than 65 people — 15 team members and 50 site employees — worked six days a week in two eight-hour shifts. In the end, construction was completed a week ahead of that schedule! This is a rare feat and I’d like to take my hat off to everyone involved.”   

AC75 for Orient Racing Team for the 37th America's Cup is launched for the first time in Barcelona
Orient Racing Team’s AC75 slips into the waters off the team’s base in Barcelona in late May, joining the fleet of AC75s for the 37th America’s Cup. Alexander Champy-McLean / Orient Express Racing Team

The boat, which reportedly arrived in early April, has been meticulously finished at the team base in Barcelona. The complexity of these AC75s cannot be understated. “The hydraulics, electricity and mechatronics departments took over the boat to install the cables, batteries, rams and other systems,” Carraz says. “This precision job took almost seven weeks. Our AC75 is equipped with over 200 sensors that had to be installed, the sensors that send data back to shore or to the coach boat. These are essential performance tools.”

America’s Cup recon personnel on site for the reveal noted the similarities with the Taihoro, and while the boat was rolled out with an older appendage design on the port foil, the starboard foil arm had “an elliptical wing with turned up tips mounted aft of a long large-form-factor bulb.

Orient Express Racing Team AC75 being lowered into the water
The AC75 of Orient Express Racing Team bears similar design traits from that of Emirates Team New Zealand, which provided the base design package. Alexander Champy-McLean / Orient Express Racing Team

Orient Express Racing Team skipper and helmsman Quentin Delapierre praised the build team for the rush job and said in a team statement: “We can’t wait to put her on her foils next week. We’ve worked hard on the simulator and we’re better prepared for the first sail on this boat than we were on the AC40 or even the LEQ. We’ve made progress in learning how to sail such a monohull. Of course, we’re the least experienced on paper, but we’ve still got some training time left, which we’re going to put to good use until 22 August.”