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Orient Express America’s Cup team set sail with L’Oréal Groupe sponsorship

Personal care giant also becomes co-naming partner for the French women and youth America’s Cup teams in 2024.

19 September 2023 Josh Sim
The Orient Express Racing Team has announced L'Oreal Groupe as a sponsor.

Orient Express Racing Team

  • Orient Express Racing Team is a joint venture between hotel group Accor and sports technology specialist K-Challenge
  • Team’s co-CEO Stephan Kandler says L’Oréal’s involvement “sends a huge message to the rest of the world”

America’s Cup outfit Orient Express Racing have landed L’Oréal Groupe as a sponsor ahead of the start of the 37th edition of the famed sailing race.

The personal care giant has partnered with the French racing team, which will represent France in the sailing race for the first time since 2007. L’Oréal and Orient Express will also become the joint name sponsors for the French women and youth America’s Cup teams, with the former competing in the first ever edition to include an all-female racing category.

The team is a joint venture between hotel group Accor, which counts Orient Express as one of its brands, and sports technology specialist K-Challenge. The latter brings together leading French engineers, technicians and athletes with the goal of winning the America’s Cup, while also developing new technologies that promote the future decarbonisation of transport.

K-Challenge founder and chief executive Stephan Kandler, who also acts as co-chief executive for the Orient Express Racing team, told SportsPro earlier this month that L’Oréal was impressed by the innovative work his company is doing in order to become a long-term challenger for the America’s Cup, while also creating a pathway for female and young sailors.

“Having them on board is something which sends a huge message for the rest of the world,” added Kandler.

The addition of L’Oréal is significant for the Orient Express Racing team, with Kandler calling the presence of sponsors “key” for the venture. While highlighting factors including the race’s setting in Barcelona, the boats and technologies involved as attractive factors for brands, he also noted that the team’s commitment to its female outfit and “outsider” nature provide unique selling points.

“[For] the youth and women’s America’s Cup we dedicated a strong budget to them because we want to win these events,” said Kandler. “We know that this is very attractive to the brands we are pitching to.

“We will not be the biggest one in terms of budget. We did some clever decisions and I think we will have a marketing strategy which is based on the fact that we’re small but beautiful and very marketing-oriented.

“One thing which is shaping up is the fact that we try to showcase French knowhow, made in France. That’s really something which seems to appeal.”

Kandler noted that sailing is becoming increasing popular in France, which will help the team in its goal to keep finding sponsorship investment to maintain a long-term commitment to the America’s Cup.

He is also confident that the sport will continue to draw interest from new audiences. Citing the America’s Cup scheduling, which will see the Challenger, women and youth races all take place within the same two-month period, Kandler added that sailing is “probably doing more for female and young people than any other sport in the world.”

This, alongside the strong environmental focus fellow sailing series SailGP places through its impact classification, as well as the innovation behind the boats, is what Kandler believes will fuel further interest in sailing. He also points to the all-access documentary Skydance is producing on the 37th America’s Cup as a potential catalyst to increase the sport’s fanbase. 

“Young people will be very much interested in those flying machines, which are like jet fighters flying over the water,” Kandler said. “That brings a lot of spectacular images, speed and also drama that you need in today’s sports, for sure.

“When you look at the face of the guys [on the boat], they have to do survival training before sailing. I think these kind of stories will also attract new people in the sport and also in the audience.”

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