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Juan Kouyoumdjian joins Groupama Team France

Published on October 18th, 2015

(October 18, 2015) – Launched on 25 June 2015, Groupama Team France is making its design team official today with the recruitment of three international-level specialists to bring the French campaign for the 35th America’s Cup to a successful conclusion. Martin Fischer, Juan Kouyoumdjian and Horacio Carabelli are now working with consultant Michel Desjoyeaux to design the team’s AC Class Yacht for the 2017 America’s Cup.

Whatever the type of boat, a competition is largely won before the race start. Top-level racers, Franck Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson have demonstrated this throughout their long careers, both offshore and inshore. In a competitive international universe, Groupama Team France’s ambition has developed such a pull that Martin, Juan and Horacio didn’t think twice about joining the team:

“We’re very lucky to be joining Groupama Team France. I know Franck Cammas and his team very well as I’ve worked on the design of five Groupama prototypes* since 2002,” explains Martin Fischer, a hydrodynamics specialist who has just left the Italian team Luna Rossa after 18 months of good and faithful service.

“I was in charge of the design of the appendages in this fantastic team,” notes Fischer. “On the AC flying catamarans, it’s the key point in the performance together with the aerodynamics. The slightest saving in terms of drag can give us an extra 2 to 3 knots boat speed. It’s an immense challenge.” Martin, who is based in Lorient, came to Bermuda for a few days to watch the boats sailing with Juan Kouyoumdjian.

“Juan is one of the most experienced naval architects in the world. He’s in charge of the aerodynamic element and his role will be predominant in the overall management of the design.”

The naval architect responsible for Groupama 4, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, Juan K as he is better known, didn’t wait for Team France to receive Groupama’s backing before getting into discussions with the team. A solid inshore racer himself, he has greatly appreciated Cammas’ determination and deftness of technological analysis in the past. His decision is as logical as the man is enthusiastic.

As for Brazilian Horacio Carabelli, boat builder and winner of the Volvo Ocean Race aboard Ericsson before joining the Spanish and Italian teams of Telefonica and Luna Rossa, he’s in charge of managing the schedules and monitoring the build.

“It’s a salient feature of the project, as there is no point carrying out research, which we cannot then implement,” adds Fischer. “The build processes are of such a standard that it takes time, despite the supreme competence of the French yards. Managing the schedules requires a high level of personal involvement and vast experience.”

This trio will be able to count on another Frenchman, Denis Glehen, to provide the structural calculations. Based in Lorient, Groupama’s port of registry, Denis has also just spent the past year or so in the Italian team after working on Groupama 4 and Groupama C.

It’s now down to a design team that will comprise up to 20 people to operate the software, run the models and utilise the skills of the top-flight technological partners like Dassault Systems, the CEA (the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), Altran and also DCNS (a world leader in naval defence and an innovative player in energy), who are actively supporting Groupama Team France in its quest for excellence.

* Martin Fischer participated in the design of Groupama 1, 2, 3, 4 and Groupama C.

Team website:

Report by Vincent Borde.

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