1970: France (F-1) was one of the national flagships of modern yachting. An exceptional boat, it is the first to have defended the colors of France in the America’s Cup.
1970: Construction: Designed by French naval architect André Mauric and built in France – as required by the America’s Cup regulations – in Pontarlier (Doubs), the first 12 Meter J.I. New and high-tech construction techniques were employed particularly for the construction of the hull in 3 plies of mahogany of more than 30 years and for the winches made in France under the direction of Claude Bich. She was launched in La Trinité-sur-Mer (Morbihan), where sailing conditions are comparable to those at Newport (RI); she was christened in May and after a month of testing with trail horses Chancegger (F-4) and Constellation (F-20), all three are sent to Newport, RI to continue preparations…
“We have to face the Australian boat Gretel (KA-1) and her crew experienced in the maneuvers of the Cup since it is their 3rd challenge. Louis Noverraz, the Swiss champion and Olympic medalist in Mexico and his French crew narrowly lost the first round. Poppie Delfour lost the second. The Swiss champion takes the helm without more success. Marcel Bich then decides – lost for lost – to steer his France himself for the final race. He embarked Eric Tabarly, then at the height of his national glory as an offshore racer. Nothing worked. Gretel had already won while France, lost in thick fog, only finds the finish line with difficulty.”
“Business is like an international regatta. Between a boat in the race and the company engaged in the economic regatta, the elements and the situations are indeed strictly comparable! Could there be a more disturbing similarity between the crew of a boat and the organization chart of the Company, a more surprising identity between the constant concern to prepare and sharpen the tool, boat or company, in order to make it ever more efficient by adapting it, again a curious coincidence, to the weather conditions for one and economic conditions for the other, always with a single goal, a single desire for all: WIN!”— Baron Marcel Bich
1971: After the failure of the first French Challenge in the America’s Cup, the AFCA turned to 4-time Olympic champion, the “Flying Dane”, Pol Elvström. France was taken to Denmark where training began while a revolutionary mast was made.
1972: One night while being towed between ports by the Pol Elvström team, F-1 loaded with several masts swerved and sank in 20 meters of water. It took a few days to refloat France and her hull still bears some scars today. AFCA repatriated the boat ending the Danish experience.
1974: With time running out, France (F-1) was restored and improved for the 1974 Challenge for the America’s Cup. Jean-Marie Le Guillou, 5.5 J.I. World Champion, wore the French colors, but lost the selection regatta to Australia’s Southern Cross (KA-4).
1977: France (F-1), the 7-year veteran was again selected to fly the French challenge colors after the AFCA realized the disappointing result of their newly-built France II (F-2). Watertight cockpits were added to comply with the new regulations and the sail plan was slightly modified. With Bruno Trouble on the helm, France won a few regattas during the challenger trials despite her great age: the first victories for the AFCA. But F-1 was eliminated before the final.
1980: France continued her service to the AFCA campaign for the America’s Cup when she served as trial horse for her newly-built sister France III (F-3).
1984: The AFCA loaned F-1 to the new Geneva challenge preparing for the 1987 Cup. She was renamed Helvetia and sailed for a few months until narrowly escaping a fire that ravaged the site where she was located. The AFCA recovered F-1, restored her original name and entrusted France to the École Navale ( French Naval Academy ), where she was used for officer training.
1984-1992: While at the French Naval Academy, she sailed in Brittany with young officers in training.
1992: France (F-1) was declared a Historic Monument by Jack Lang, Minister of Culture (1992-2010). She was sailed for the last time at a gathering in Brest with Eric Tabarly, then decommissioned, covered and stored on her cradle for 20 years.
2011-2012: Bruno Bich, Bruno Troublé , Thierry Verneuil and Bernard Le Saout undertake to give new life to the first 12M J.I. France (F-1). With the support of the French Naval Academy, France was returned to the AFCA and transported to the Vilaine shipyard in Arzal (Morbihan).
2012: The Vilaine shipyard team led by Emmanuel Darviot, assisted by his master carpenter, surrounded by his team members, and with Ben Le Saout, former AFCA and Jacques Fauroux, naval architect, carried out the restoration of the hull of France. They did a remarkable job of marine carpentry, respecting the fabulous work of the carpenters from the Egger shipyard who built her. In this project to offer a second life to France, the AFCA benefited from the support of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, the General Council of Morbihan and the Regional Council of Brittany and the Bénéteau Foundation. It is thanks to the Federation of Nautical Industries (FIN) and the organizer of the Paris Boat Show, Reed, that F-1 was exhibited in Hall One on the Morbihan stand.
Beyond having been the first French sailboat to challenge for the America’s Cup, France is a boat built in wood in the Jura and in an extraordinary way by the shipwrights of the Swiss shipyard Egger, the best wood shipyard in the world. Three-ply 30-year-old mahogany has allowed her hull to remain in perfect condition after more than 40 years. The classification “Historic Monument” in 1992 implied that F-1 be returned to her original state. The bulk of the work, carried out with expertise by the shipwright from the Chantier Naval de Vilaine, included the replacement of the deck beams and the installation of a new deck and its fittings. The rudder has been rebuilt and the trimmer overhauled. The excellent paint job has enabled France to be returned to its original 1970 livery, that of its baptism in La Trinité-sur-Mer.
2013: France returned to the water and regularly sails with three generations of crew passing along skills and heritage according to the original wish of Marcel BICH.
2020: Based in Hyères, France celebrated her 50th anniversary at the Régates Royales in Cannes and continues to race each year in the most prestigious regattas.
Present: FRANCE is property of the AFCA, partnered with the Yacht Club de France as before it, the “Pourquoi Pas” of Commander CHARCOT, the “Saint-Michel” of Jules VERNE, “Ailée » by Virginie HERIOT and the PEN DUICK by Éric TABARLY. The AFCA is a recognized Association and the boat is classified as a historical monument.
|International Rule||THIRD Rule-AC|
|Builder||Herman Egger, Chantier AFCA|
|First Owner||L'Ass. Fr. pour "La Coupe de l'America"|
|First Sail Number||F-1|
|Other Names||France I (1977, after France II built), Helvetia (1984 briefly)|
|Other Sail Numbers||F-1|
|Current Status / Condition||sailing|
|Current Owner||AFCA - French Association for the America's Cup 12mR International Gauge|
|Current Location||Hyeres, France|
|Current Division||Grand Prix|
|Length Overall||19.13 m.|
|Length Waterline||14.40 m.|
|Sail Area||165 sq. m.|