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Launched in 1966, the AFCA 12 MJI France Association (French Association for the America's Cup) was created by Baron Marcel Bich in order to conquer one of the oldest sporting trophies in the world: the America's Cup .


Forming crews made up of experienced sailors and novices, united by this common objective, it was at the origin of France's first 4 participations (1970 to 1980) in what would become “The Louis Vuitton Cup”.


The association enabled the launch of “France” in 1970, the first French sailboat of the 12 MJI gauge.
This boat, which she owns, is the only French sailboat to have participated in the America's Cup challenges three times (1970, 1974 and 1977). It ensures the transmission and promotion of this unique maritime heritage, classified as a Historic Monument since 1992.


Maintenance of the France I boat:

Thanks to a core of former team members and volunteer experts from the region, France I is maintained in the best possible conditions.

With the help of other volunteer members, they achieve everything that is possible for themselves. They repair anything that can be repaired and, for essential purchases such as winches, sails, etc., AFCA-1966 sources its supplies from French and regional manufacturers in order to highlight French know-how as at time for the America's Cup.


If you would like to partner with us, do not hesitate to contact us at .


Sailing with the France I boat :


Since its creation, the AFCA-1966 has aimed to “train and train crews [and to introduce] young people to competitive sailing. »

Even today, AFCA-1966 allows a core of former America's Cup teammates to pass on their knowledge to young people from all walks of life, thus offering them the opportunity to train in competitive sailing on an exceptional boat usually reserved for private spaces.

France I goes out regularly during the season for training and regattas in the Mediterranean basin.

Social actions:

Members also engage in several ways in the social field. They organize visits to France I during Heritage Days, school visits, and partnerships with the Hyères tourist office.


They offer sea trips to people with disabilities and other associations as lots for social projects


If you are a group, do not hesitate to contact us at so that we can organize a visit to France I. We will also tell you about the role played by AFCA-1966 and Marcel BICH between 1970 and 1980 in the America's Cup.


Communication :

Via our website, Internet users can discover Marcel BICH's involvement in the America's Cup, the history of AFCA-1966, as well as the life of the association, including the maintenance of the boat, training, regattas, and social actions. This information is also shared via our social networks: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google, and YouTube.

If you would like to follow us on our various social networks, click here:

AFCA 1966 - Photo credit Sarah Varlet


Participants in 1, 2 or 3 editions of the America’s Cup
World Champions of 12 MJI
Champions of the Tour de France Sailing
2nd in the TwoStar 81 on Ultim and holder of the Transat record
And many others!


2 helmsmen/tacticians (ex America’s Cup)
30 interchangeable crew members who can compose 2 crews
1 technical manager (ex America’s Cup, boating professional)
1 security manager
1 communications manager
1 management manager


76 members

Number of women members: 22

Number of members under 30: 18

Number of members having participated in the America's Cup : 8


AFCA today has a unique pool of skills, know-how and experience in the 12 M JI class.


Our challenge for tomorrow will be to develop our association into a center of navigation performance and excellence. The AFCA wishes to initiate the creation of a fleet of 12 M JI, through partnership or acquisition, and relaunch this gauge in the Mediterranean.
With the objective of continuing the work initiated by Marcel BICH, the association will thus offer a unique training opportunity through training dedicated to the 12 M JI.
While ensuring its "societal" actions and training outside the sporting competition framework, it will generate additional economic levers in resources and visibility both for the public institutions supporting us (City, Metropolis, Department, Region), and for our private partners.

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L'histoire de l'AFCA

1965.Marcel Bich is interested in the America's Cup : The French industrialist who revolutionized writing with the launch in 1950 of the BIC® Cristal® pen, continues to establish his company throughout the world and practices sailing with his family. Passionate about competition and a man of challenges, he is interested in the America's Cup. Until now reserved for Anglo-Saxons, it has been organized by the New York Yacht Club since 1851 and raced in Newport since 1930.

1965.Preparing for the challenge : In 1965, Marcel Bich founded the AFCA (French Association for the America's Cup) and bought Sovereign, the English challenger for the America's Cup in 1964, then Constellation and Kurrewa.

1966 & 1967Training in Hyères : Outings, sail and equipment tests, match race training for team members continue on the three 12 Meters J.I.Sovereign, Constellation and Kurrewa, on the Hyères bases. In September 1967, Marcel Bich followed the America's Cup regattas in the United States and at the end submitted his challenge to the NYYC.

1967.New York Yacht Club agrees to change rules : Marcel Bich is preparing his challenge but the regulations in force do not guarantee him being able to participate. In October 1966, during a lunch in the lounges of the New York Yacht Club, he suggested to its leaders to modify the rules of the competition: the challenger, who would face the defender, would be selected for the first time after regattas. eliminations between several challengers, as the NYYC did between its own boats. The idea was rejected several times and finally accepted in December 1967.

1969.Chancegger : Marcel Bich asks the American architect Britton Chance to design a 12 Meters J.I. which he had built in Switzerland, at the Hermann Egger shipyard. Thus came Chancegger, a boat which was never to race but only to be used to prepare the construction of the future competitive boat and to participate in training. Mrs. Sargent Shriver, wife of the United States Ambassador to France and sister of President Kennedy, is the godmother of Chancegger, launched in 1969.

1970.Construction of France : It is the French naval architect André Mauric who designed France. Built in France – as required by the America’s Cup regulations – in Pontarlier (Doubs), this first 12 Meter J.I. French was served by high level know-how and techniques in particular for the construction of the hull in 3 layers of mahogany more than 30 years old and for the winches made in France under the direction of Claude Bich. In 1970, France was launched at La Trinité-sur-Mer (Morbihan), whose navigation conditions are comparable to those of the Newport stretch of water, and baptized in May.

1970. France in Newport : After a month of development with its sparring partners Chancegger and Constellation, the boat is sent to Newport Rhode Island with its hares Constellation and Chancegger where it continues its preparation. We have to face the Australian boat Gretel and its crew experienced in Cup maneuvers 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 loses second. The Swiss champion takes the helm again without further success. Marcel Bich then decides - lost for lost - to bar his France himself for the final race. He took on board Eric Tabarly, then a the height of his national glory as an offshore racer. Nothing works. Gretel has already won while France, lost in a thick fog, only finds the finish line with difficulty. We learned 25 years later that the Australians, at the outer limit of the regulations, homing gonio on their cleverly wet tender a length from the finish line.

1971-1972 : A danish attempt interrupted ... After the failure of the first French Challenge in the America's Cup in 1970, the AFCA turned to Pol Elvström, the Flying Dane, four times Olympic champion. France is taken to Denmark, training begins and a revolutionary mast is made. But when Pol Elfström's team in 1972 towed France, loaded with several masts - and at night! - from one port to another, the boat lurched and sank 20 meters deep. It will take a few days to refloat it and the hull still bears some scars today. We are repatriating the boat. This is the end of the Danish experiment.

1974. France in the 1974 Cup : Time is running out and there are no other solutions than to go into battle with the valiant France rehabilitated and improved. Jean Marie Le Guillou, 5.5 JI World Champion, wore the French colors during the 1974 cup but lost the selection regattas against the Australian boat Southern Cross, Alan Bond's first boat which won the Cup in 1983.

1977. Third French campaign on France II : AFCA decides to build a new boat. The hull trials have been very promising and she is wonderfully constructed. A veritable flotilla gathered in Hyères (Var) to prepare for the 1977 Cup in Newport : Constellation, France and France II. Constellation, the old American winner of the Cup, remains formidable in tacking. The first tests of France II were disappointing but this languor was attributed to a lack of development. France II stirs up a lot of water. After 10 days and may hours of whipping, nothing worked! We have to face the facts : France II is slower than France. We will have to do the Newport campaign with the valiant France, a 7-year veteran! Watertight cockpits are added to meet the new regulations and the sail plan is slightly modified. A mini America's Cup is organized internally between 3 skippers : Bruno Troublé wins this selection and will be the helmsman of France. France wins a few regattas during the selections despite its great age : the first victories of the AFCA. But he is eliminated before the final and Australia becomes the challenger.

1980. France III in the final : France serves as a hare to France III, the third 12 M JI of the AFCA, built in aluminum and significantly faster. With the same skipper as in 1977, France III reached the challengers final after eliminating the English. He lost to Australia. This performance remains the best French result in the Cup. It's the end of France's career in the America's Cup. Marcel Bich retires with panache.

1984. France loaned to Switzerland : The AFCA decides to lend France to the new Geneva challenge which tries without success to participate in the 1987 Cup. The boat is renamed Helvetia, sails for a few months in Geneva and narrowly escapes the fire which devastates the construction site where it is located. The AFCA recovered the boat, gave it its name again and entrusted it to the Naval Academy so that it could participate in the training of officers.

1984 to 1992 : France at the Naval School. France sails in Brittany with young officers training at the Naval School but it is used less and less due to its high operating cost. In 1992 the boat was classified as a Historic Monument by Jack Lang, Minister of Culture.

1992 to 2010. Las outing before 20 years : France hoists the sails for the last time during the gathering in Brest 92 with Eric Tabarly. Then it is disarmed, covered and placed on its cradle at the Naval School. He remained there for almost 20 years.

2010 to 2011. The reconstruction of France : The Bich Family, Bruno Troublé and Thierry Verneuil set ou to offer a new lige to the first 12MJI France. Thanks to the support of the Naval Academy and the National Navy, France.

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Beyond having been the first French challenger for the America's Cup, France is a boat built 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 50 years. The classification and Historic Monument in 1992 implies that it be returned to its original state.

The bulk of the work, carried out with expertise by the shipwright from the Chantier Naval de Vilaine, was the replacement of the bridge beams, the installation of a new bridge and its fittings, as well as the installation of a the back. The rudder has been rebuilt and the trimmer overhauled. The excellent paint job has restored France to its original 1970 livery.

The characteristics of a 12M JI

The term 12-Meter refers to the end product of a mathematical formula that relates a defined number of boat dimensions. This formula specifies that the length of the boat plus twice its circumference difference minus the freeboard plus the square root of its sail area, divided by 2.37 should equal 12.  The formula is written:


Briefly, the mathematical symbols are:

  • L is the length of the boat measured at a height of 180 millimeters above the LWL (load waterline). This L measures approximately 14.63 meters (48 feet) for an average 12-Meter.

  • d is the difference between the contour perimeter and the chain perimeter (see dotted line on the drawing at the middle of the vessel's freeboard) measured at a point 55 percent the length of the LWL from the bow.

  • F is the average of three freeboard measurements: one at the bow, one at the 0.55 LWL point and one at the stern. The aft freeboard cannot be more than 82.5% of the forward freeboard, and the forward freeboard must be 20 to 50% greater than the midship freeboard. These legal restrictions only apply to boats launched on or after December 31, 1975. The maximum freeboard (F) used in the formula must not be greater than 1.21 meters (3.97 feet). A 12 meter cannot be narrower than 3.60 meters (11.8 feet) without penalty.

  • S is the sail area of the mainsail and the front triangle in square meters. The nominal area values of the mainsail are (Ax B)/2, where A is the length of the luff of the mainsail and B is the length of the foot. The maximum height of the sail plan cannot be greater than 25.18 meters (82.8 feet) above the deck of the boat.

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The sail area d of the front triangle is (0.85)[(lxJ)/2], where I is the distance measured between the point on the deck at 180  millimeters (about 7 inches) at the front of the mast and the height at which the props intersect the mast and J is the distance between the front  from the mast to the rear edge of the forestay. The total sail area for a 12 meter is approximately 167 square meters, or 1,800 square feet.

Although, these parameters form the basis of the 12-Meter formula, there are certain other restrictions. For example, the draft of a 12-Meter cannot exceed 16% of the LWL plus 500 millimeters (approximately 19.7 inches): this restriction produces a draft of approximately 2.74 meters (9 feet) for the average modern 12-Meter.  The displacement cannot be less than (0.20 LWL + 0.15)3 cubic meters. Business, for example, moves approximately 26.54 cubic meters or 60,000 pounds. And the chain perimeter should intersect the contour perimeter at a distance of 1500 millimeters from the LWL.

Other requirements that do not specifically impact the power rating relate to deck openings, mast diameter and weight. There can be no more than 11 crew members on board during a race, and there are limits on the amount of equipment allowed and the number of deck openings. Cockpits should now be self-draining.

Several measurement marks are required. Two red dots, one on each side of the bow, mark the front end of L. On the stern side, on the center line, two rectangles are painted in a color contrasting to the boat. These mark the end of L and L1 (a measurement point used to determine a relationship between bridge and perimeter distances). In the center of the freeboard, the triangular immersion marks just touch the water when the boat is in measuring condition.



“Paulet” Paul AYASSE

  • America’s Cup teammate (1974, 1980)

  • 8th in the crewed round-the-world race (1977)

  • Winner of the Baule-Dakar on Elf Aquitaine (1980)

  • 2nd in Transmed (1984)

  • 3rd in the Quarter-Ton World Championship (1985)


“Bondu” Marc BONDUELLE

  • America's Cup teammate (1970, 1977, 1980)

  • Skipper of Gitana V

  • Mediterranean Champion on Gitana V (1984)

  • 8M JI world vice-champion (1998)

  • 5 deckchairs including 1 on “Shenandoah”


“Totone” Robert GONIDEC

  • World offshore racing champion Admiral’s Cup – Corum Team (1991) 

  • Two-ton world champion (1993)

  • European and world champion in 12M JI (1996 and 2001)

  • Atlantic Record Mono (1998) 8 days 23 hours

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“Chris” Christophe Alzieu

  • IRC European Champion

  • 2 times French crew champion

  • 2nd in the Copa del Rey

  • 6 times winner of the Porquerolles Cup

  • 3rd in the Formula 18 World Championship

AFCA France Christophe Alzieu - Photo Credit Sarah Varlet

“Chris” Christophe Alzieu

  • IRC European Champion

  • 2 times French crew champion

  • 2nd in the Copa del Rey

  • 6 times winner of the Porquerolles Cup

  • 3rd in the Formula 18 World Championship


CA AFCA FRANCE organization chart
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