Marc Pajot introduces two key members of Team French Spirit at the Yacht Club de France 21/3/08

The Yacht Club de France welcomed Team French Spirit for the presentation of its core team and programme. Marc Pajot, President and team manager, was pleased to introduce two key members: Philippe Presti and Bertrand Pace (left).

The future of the Cup seems at last a little clearer. While the 33rd America’s Cup will be a duel between Alinghi and BMW Oracle Challenge, Team French Spirit is preparing a challenge for the 34th Cup, which should take place in Valencia in 2011.

Presti has been signed up as skipper. He is a member of the French Match-Racing Team and competed in the last Cup with the Luna Rossa Challenge. Presti was skipper and helmsman of Defi Areva in 2003 in New Zealand; he holds two World Champion titles (1993; 1996) in the Finn Class; was World Champion runner up in the Soling Class (2000); and twice French Match-Racing Vice Champion.

Pace has been recruited as the team’s helmsman. At 44, he is certainly the most experienced America’s Cup helmsman. His first campaign was with French Kiss in 1985. Since then, he was navigator aboard Ville de Paris in 1992, tactician in 1995 with France 2, and helmed with 6e Sens in 2000. Pace became race tactician of Team New Zealand’s B boat in 2003, and most recently co-helmed with BMW Oracle in Valencia.

Marc Pajot described his team as “acting with conviction, that’s not going to put limits to its ambitions. A team admired by its supporters and feared by other competitors.” Ambitious or not, they have certainly started innovatively – opening a “designer contest” to identify the right people and technological support for the challenge.

The team is currently operating with a basic budget of ?4million, fully funded by private individuals who are supporting Pajot. With the future participation of sponsors and partners, the total overall budget is estimated to reach ?50-60million.