France joins the AC37 party as K-Challenge entry is confirmed
The French challenge will be led by experienced Cup campaigners Stephan Kandler and Bruno Dubois – the powerhouse duo behind the France SailGP Team
The 37th America’s Cup received a surprise new year boost with the surprise news today that French team K-Challenge Racing representing the Société nautique de Saint-Tropez yacht club have been confirmed as the event’s fifth challenger.
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According to an announcement from the America’s Cup organisation this morning the French challenge will be led by experienced Cup campaigners Stephan Kandler (FRA) and Bruno Dubois (BEL/CAN) – the powerhouse duo behind the France SailGP Team.
A French entry had been strongly rumoured last year and according to today’s press release the K-Challenge paperwork had been accepted by the incumbent Royal New Zealand Yacht Club some months ago.
No announcement was made back then to allow the team to get the necessary funding and infrastructure in place but now it appears that Kandler and Dubois have ‘leurs canards alignés’ and are ready to push forward with the campaign.
CEO of K-Challenge Racing, Stephane Kandler said, “Bruno and I are very excited to join the other Challengers. We have been working behind the scenes for almost a year now and we are going to announce great things by the end of this month.”
Grant Dalton – CEO of AC37 Event Limited – welcomed the French announcement.
“It is great to have the French now back in the America’s Cup as the fifth Challenger, and one that will no doubt bring a lot of typical character and flair to what is lining up to be a stunning event in Barcelona.
“France is such a prominent sailing nation but despite this, it is not a small undertaking to get an America’s Cup team up and running so I congratulate Stephane, Bruno and the Société nautique de Saint-Tropez who have been working away tirelessly to get to this point.”
Kandler – a prominent French winemaker – founded the K-Challenge syndicate in 2001 before it morphed into the Areva Challenge to compete in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series for the thirty-second America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain.
Kandler also led the Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One TP52 campaign on the 2009 Audi MedCup circuit.
Dubois – who was born in Belgium but emigrated to Canada in 1984 – has a fearsome reputation in professional sailing.
After winning the 1983 Mini-Transat he skippered the French entry Rucanor in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race. After a long career in North sails France he switched to team management and led Dongfeng Race Team to victory in the 2017-18 edition of The Ocean Race before going on to manage Franck Cammas’ Groupama Team France challenge for the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda.
Together Kandler and Dubois have been the driving force behind the France SailGP Team campaign since the inception of the international circuit in 2019.
Although no announcement has yet been made about the K-Challenge sailing team line-up it is highly likely that it will be led by SailGP skipper Quentin Delapierre and feature many – if not all – of the French F50 crew such as wing trimmer Kevin Peponnet, and flight controller François Morvan.
A full announcement on this and the team’s plans around building an AC75 is expected during January.