NAVIGATION: The ACCOR group is committed to the sport-tech K-Challenge

The ACCOR group and its brands Orient Express and ALL-ACCOR Live Limitless are engaged alongside the K-Challenge of sports technology.

Orient Express Team, Official French Challenger of the 37th America’s Cup.

Following its development in the maritime world, with the construction by the Atlantic shipyards of two Orient Express Silenseas sailboats, the hotel group Accor, world leader in hospitality, bets on the sides of the K-Challenge platform, in the oldest sports trophy and one of the most demanding in the world of competitive sailing: the America’s Cup. Its brand Orient Express becomes the Title Partner of the official French Challenger which will bear the name Orient Express Team.

The latter, piloted by Stephan Kandler and Bruno Dubois, who surrounded themselves with French talents such as the architect Benjamin Muyl, the skipper Quentin Delapierre or even Franck Cammas for the performance and Antoine Carraz, Technical Director, will face the other four in September 2024. challengers with the aim of carrying the colors of their partner Orient Express as high as possible in the competition.

And, why not, to the final stage and a duel with Emirates Team New Zealand, the current holder of the America’s Cup, as for the first time in the history of France in this competition, the tricolor challenge benefits from a state-of-the-art technology package. provided by the Defender, which allows you to save time and start on an equal footing against your opponents.

The genesis of the Orient Express Team

If the Cup was born from a challenge between English and American yacht clubs in 1851, the Orient Express was born from the pioneering spirit of Georges Nagelmackers and completed its maiden round trip between Paris and Constantinople in 1883. Almost twin challenges, the result of passion, of commitment, technology, the winning combos for years assumed by the ACCOR group, its brand Orient Express and K-Challenge.

Sébastien Bazin, President and CEO of Accor, stated: “In line with its commitments in terms of social and environmental responsibility, Accor supports French crews and thus pursues its ambition: to establish itself as an essential partner for excellence and innovation. The our group carries the passion, the thirst for adventure and the team spirit. This is why sailing resonates so strongly with our values. With its 172 years of existence, the America’s Cup is an emblem of the world of sailing. Legendary in its history and in its uninterrupted search for excellence, it was natural that we chose this race to launch the first competition sailboat in the colors of the Orient Express. »

Stephan Kandler, founder and CEO of K-Challenge: “We are very happy and proud to wear the colors of a French brand as emblematic as Orient Express from the ACCOR group, which shines all over the world and exports French excellence. ACCOR’s support with two of its brands is a global and ambitious commitment that will allow our sports technology platform K-Challenge, co-directed with Bruno, to participate in multiple sports and technology projects highlighting French know-how, exceptional talents and innovation and contribute to the ecological transition of mobility. »

The Orient Express team supported by the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and piloted by a panel of experts:

The America’s Cup is a challenge between yacht clubs from different nations. For the 2024 campaign, the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, very active in the organization of renowned sporting events, is taking on the challenge against its English (Royal Yacht Squadron), Italian (Circollo de la vella), Swiss (Société Nautique de Genève). , American (New York Yacht Club) and of course the current holder of the Trophy, the New Zealand club, the Royal New-Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Pierre Roinson, president of the SNST: “The Orient Express team that will represent us in the America’s Cup, a competition of excellence, can count on the unwavering support of the more than 500 members of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, of which I am very happy to be a stone cornerstone of the 2024 campaign”.

Behind every ambitious project is a team:

Stephan Kandler, who founded the K-Challenge in 2001 for a previous America’s Cup campaign, was joined by Bruno Dubois in 2021. Since then, the two partners have worked tirelessly to build a strong and talented French team. This is how around these drivers we find:

Benjamin Muyl, Principal Designer

Antoine Carraz, Technical Director

Franck Cammas, Head of Performance and Design-Flight Coordination

A sailing team led by Bruno Dubois, led by skipper Quentin Delapierre and coached by Thierry Douillard. Bruno Dubois, general manager and manager of the K-Challenge sailing team “In France, there is a pool of talent at the technical, technological and sailing levels that our competitors have clearly identified for years and call upon them for each campaign. . Our my wish with Stephan was to bring together the maximum of his skills and form a shock French team. Thanks to the support of the ACCOR group and the commitment of Orient Express, we gathered a school of experts to lead the group: Benjamin Muyl in Design, Antoine Carraz in Technical , Franck Cammas in Performance, a sailing team that will be led by Quentin Delapierre.

A technological agreement at the service of the French team

The K-Challenge team, now the Orient Express Team, has been working for months so that France, a recognized and expert nation in the field of competitive sailing, can align with this edition of the America’s Cup and have the means to perform. That is why a technological agreement was established between the French team and Defender Emirates Team New Zealand. A fantastic opportunity that allows the debt induced by a late entry to be erased in time and puts the French on equal footing against the talented competition.

Stéphan Kandler: “With Bruno, our starting point was to ensure that the French team was competitive. Beyond the budget we needed to raise, we had a quick discussion with the sponsor, Emirates Team New Zealand, with whom we have had very good links since the first K-Challenge campaign in 2003. Today, this collaborative technology includes a state-of-the-art design . package from which we will work and build our own AC75 Made in France. This partnership allows us to start on an equal footing with the other Challengers. This is a great first in the history of a French challenge.

The Made in France construction of the AC75 Orient Express

The AC75, a 20.7 m long foiling monohull that can fly at over 100 km/h, has been the official support of the America’s Cup since the previous edition. As Stephan Kandler likes to remember, “An AC75 is a combat aircraft with eight pilots that flies 30 cm above the water. A highly technological machine at the level of what is done in aerospace. »

To build its AC75, Orient Express Team chose to work with several shipyards, well established in the heart of the French maritime sector, recognized for their know-how, acquired thanks to the multitude of industrial projects but also for the world of sailing. competition

Bruno Dubois: “In France we are lucky to benefit from an extraordinary knowledge that we are going to exploit to the fullest. With the team, we called the Multiplast shipyard, based in Vannes, in Morbihan, the CDK shipyard, based in Lorient and Port-La-Forêt, and many subcontractors. These shipyards are, moreover, for some, the ones that work, with the Atlantic shipyards, on the Orient Express Silenseas. Working with multiple entities also allows us to save time. Construction of our AC75 will begin next April and will be completed in the spring of 2024.”

Stephan Kandler: “Building the AC75 Orient Express will require many skills and hours of work. Our collaboration with the Accor group will thus benefit the French economy and generate jobs for several months. This is an important element both economically and for the development of the national territory and the entire industry. Like the Accor group’s investments in technologies such as hydrogen, we will be able to develop many technological innovations in the decarbonisation of mobility. »

The AC75 Orient Express should be launched in the spring of 2024. In the meantime, there is no doubt that the navigation equipment will remain passive; will be able to train in an AC40, a smaller but equally powerful monohull, which will also support young men and women in the Youth and Women’s America Cup.

Transmission and diversity

Participating in the America’s Cup and performing does not make the French challenge forget one of the pillars of its DNA: sharing and transmitting. Orient Express Team and K-Challenge will be interested in helping sailing figures to reveal themselves and promote the integration and training of women and young people in high-level competitive sailing.

Stephan Kandler: “We are very happy to see that, for the first time in its history, the America’s Cup opens an event 100% dedicated to female athletes, and with a final in the middle of the America’s Cup match between the last Challenger and the Defensa, which will induce good visibility to this competition. We welcome you. With the Team France association, the French Sailing Federation, the Fondation du Sport and our private partners such as NextWorld Philanthropies and other partners to be announced soon, we will help the new generation, girls and children, to train and perform in all business sectors. . The Team France association, which carries out these projects together with K-Challenge, will communicate in a few days whether it is in the women’s team or in the youth teams. To continue then. »

A busy schedule over the next 22 months

On land or at sea, the Orient Express Team will be on all fronts in the coming months.

On land, the team’s base in Barcelona will be installed and invested in the summer of 2023.

On the water, the Sailing Team will alternate between training on board the AC40 in the water of Barcelona and very high-level international confrontations with SailGP, in which the best teams in the world are involved and the Accor group through its ALL.Com brand that joins so to the French SailGP team for the end of season 3 and all of season 4.

Detailed schedule:


April: start of construction of the AC75 Orient Express, in Brittany for a year

June: Installation of the Official Base in Barcelona

August: AC40 training in Barcelona

September-October: 2 AC World Series at AC40

+ Youth and women’s selection and training in AC40

+ Competitions in seasons 3 and 4 of SailGP with 14 Grand Prix on 4 continents


January – July: End of SailGP season 4 and AC40 training in Barcelona

May: Launch and first sailing of the AC75 Orient Express

May – August inclusive: Training and testing in AC75 in Barcelona

June-July: 1 ACWS at AC75 in Barcelona

August 22: Launch of the 37th America’s Cup

September: Challengers Selection Series

October: Women’s and youth Copa América match and Copa América

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