Universe Articles

The French in the Cup (9/12)

Daniel Andrieu

In the build-up to the 35th America’s Cup in Hamilton, Bermuda in late May 2017, we are offering you a monthly excursion into history to discover or rediscover the French sailors who have distinguished themselves in the quest for the silver ewer since the early seventies. Today: Daniel Andrieu.


With a walrus moustache, an Australian hat forever attached to his head and a lively expression, Daniel Andrieu has walked his large carcass around all the race zones in the world over the past forty years. Hailing from the Louis Le Grand secondary school in Paris, the young man with a good mind initially worked on Bateaux magazine as a yacht tester, before launching his own firm of naval architecture, the year that François Mitterrand was elected President of the French republic for the first time.

Based in northern Brittany and nicknamed “Vadius”, he formed part of a group of brilliant and cheery fellows racing 470s – the TTT or Térenez Torch Team – that included a certain Philippe Pallu de la Barrière, a mathematician at the Collège de France and founder of the CRAIN, an unprecedented research structure that has accompanied all the French challenges over the past thirty years. Daniel then got into the design of IOR prototypes and made it a point of honour to helm when racing. The famous Cifraline line – quarter, half then one tonners – masterfully won renown in the greatest international events. Andrieu is not only good at drawing, he also has a real passion for beautiful that was forged at the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts.

Armed with six world champion titles and a plethora of victories, and backed up by the hundreds of boats he designed for the major yards like Jeanneau, the Parisian naturally set his sights towards the America’s Cup. In so doing, he joined forces with Yves Pajot and signed up to the 12 MJI Challenge France, though results were not up to expectations. However, in 1999, his America’s Cup Class 6ème Sens was as radical as it was narrow and, skippered by Bertrand Pacé, she made it into the semi-final of the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland. The Yaka Design Team, which notably comprised Hervé Devaux, Philippe Pallu, Jérôme Vedrenne, Juan Kouyoumdjian and Bernard Nivelt made a base for itself in a container that was barely watertight and worked 24/7 to successfully develop the boat christened the ‘rocketship’ by the international press. What followed for the architect based in La Rochelle were two new campaigns with the famous fluorescent yellow America’s Cup Class Areva and then the bright red China Team, but they were unable to repeat the performance by 6ème Sens and her orange livery.

All the same, like Philippe Briand, Daniel Andrieu has gone on to leave an indelible mark on the French quest for the famous bottomless ewer.


His fondest memory:

“the 6ème Sens campaign during the America's Cup in Auckland with the qualification for the semi-finals. A tiny, penniless team, lacking pretty much everything, yet innovative and highly motivated, with an exemplary spirit of camaraderie and solidarity. These were fabulous times where it was observed that a team geared towards a single goal is capable of surpassing themselves…”


The finest invention of the America’s Cup:

“every period brings its share of innovations. 1967: the rudder separate from the keel and the trim tab on Intrepid. 1983: the wing keel on Australia II. 2012: the first ‘flight’ on Team New Zealand which, had it been kept secret, would have enabled it to win a ‘mismatch’ a year later in San Francisco...”


Groupama Team France:

“to win the America's Cup, there are three essential ingredients but they are not necessarily enough: men, time and money. The men are the main ingredient and I think that Franck Cammas and Groupama Team France have it. As far as the rest is concerned, it may be that money enables you to ‘buy’ time, but rarely the reverse, and I fear that the team lacks both. However, our first wish is that they enjoy some exceptional human moments, as the America's Cup is the Holy Grail for sailors everywhere.”

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