The French America's Cup team will be sponsored by nuclear energy giant Areva

The French challenge for the America’s Cup will be named Le Défi Areva after the syndicate received sponsorship worth 15m euro (£9.3m) from the international nuclear energy company. Although there are environmental concerns about the nature of their sponsor’s business, Le Défi has been racing against time to find enough money to get to Auckland. This confirms their participation.

“Now we have secured 80 percent of our global budget of 24m euro. We hope to find the final 20 percent in the next few months to maintain the rhythm of our preparation,” said Xavier de Lesquen, administrative director of the French challenge.

The challenge’s decision to proceed with the building of a 2003 race boat – at the Multiplast yard in Vannes – despite lacking major funding has been vindicated by Areva’s arrival. The boat is due to emerge in May and training, with their 2000 boat FRA-46 and the 1995 America’s Cup winner NZL-32, will run from March through to July when the team and their raceboat will decamp to Auckland.

Exactly where they will base themselves once in Auckland is another question. Syndicate Row has been full for several months.

Sports Director Pierre Mas has already selected his team: “We have been sailing FRA-46 and NZL-32 since last July. About sixty crew were tested and we selected 32. Now we have two crews of 16 sailors.

“We’re taking a big step forward in our bid to win the America’s Cup. Bringing the trophy to France has been our objective from the first day,” said Mas.