The fifth challenger

Franck Cammas tells us as much as he can about the Team France challenge for the 35th America's Cup
When the five challengers for the 35th America’s Cup were revealed in August, one of the slight surprises to be among them was Team France. Following on from the Peyron brothers’ ultimately unsuccessful Energy Team campaign for the 34th AC, going into the 35th, Team France has now taken over the mantle of ‘France’s challenger for the America’s Cup’. The campaign was launched last December at the Salon Nautique in Paris as a joint venture between three titans of French sailing – Franck Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson. Between Cammas and Desjoyeaux alone there is a formidable collection of Vendée Globe and Route du Rhum victories. Yet, while both showed skill racing their ORMA 60 trimarans inshore back in the day, they are known primarily as offshore sailors. The same is true of de Kersauson – famously Eric Tabarly’s second in command during the Pen Duick era and since the early 1990s as one of the keenest hunters of the Jules Verne Trophy (he has made more attempts than anyone else on the fully crewed non-stop around the world record). So why are they campaigning for the America’s Cup? For Cammas and Desjoyeaux as professional sailors, it is clearly because the Cup is the biggest, sailing's most prestigious competition, while de Kersauson is known to be an immense America’s Cup fan. His role in the team is also crucial for while Cammas and Desjoyeaux are famous in the French sailing and sports worlds, neither holds the profile with the French general public of de Kersauson, who in addition to his sailing antics, for 28 years was a panellist on the leading news and comment radio/TV show Les Grosses Tetes (imagine an older, ruddier and substantially more dangerous version of Angus Deayton). De Kersauson’s ‘black book’ of potential backers for Team France