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Rival siblings unite to fight U.S. for America's Cup

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Bruno and Loick Peyron
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bruno and Loick Peyron are among France's most successful sailors
  • The pair have been rivals for three decades but have joined forces for America's Cup
  • New, faster catamarans plays to their strengths and offer France hope of first ever win

(CNN) -- After 30 years of competing against each other at the highest level, sailing's most famous siblings have joined forces in a bid to get their hands on the oldest trophy in international sport: the America's Cup.

French brothers Bruno and Loick Peyron, who between them have won many of the sport's top accolades, are on a mission to secure a trophy that has eluded their home nation since it first entered the illustrious competition in 1967.

"This is not for us, it is for our country," said Loick Peyron, fresh from victory in the grueling Barcelona World Yacht race and who, at 51, is the younger of the sailing duo.

The brothers will lead "Energy Team" -- a hand-picked crew of some of France's most talented sailors -- to compete among 14 other teams from around the world, all of whom will be seeking to wrest the 160 year-old trophy from the defending U.S. champions.

Elder brother Bruno, 56, is an eight-time world ocean records holder and in 1993 became the first ever to complete the Jules Verne Trophy -- successfully sailing around the world in under 80 days. Loick, meanwhile, has won more than 30 major tournaments in as many years. Together they are arguably France's most successful living sailors.

Taking on the America's Cup series
Preparing for the America's Cup series

However, the pair are keen to draw the spotlight away from themselves -- emphasizing the fact that the America's Cup is a team effort. "We do not want this to be the 'Peyron Brothers' Story," insisted Loick.

And yet it's hard to see how it could be anything but. Ever since 1987 -- when the two went head to head in a bid to single-handedly break the trans-Atlantic speed record, the media have played up the drama of their sporting rivalry.

It's a story given all the greater piquancy by the fact that, for the past three decades, they have never combined their efforts in a high-profile competition.

So is the rivalry fact or media fiction?

"Sure, inside the youngest brother is always the desire of beating the oldest," admitted Loick. But, he maintains, this natural brotherly competitiveness is not what drives his ambition. "Always the first good thing is to win the race," he added.

Why, then, has it taken so long for the two to unite their formidable talents?

"I have always been dreaming about trying to do something together," said Bruno, who confesses that the union should have happened "a lot sooner."

It's possible their late joint-arrival to the America's cup is simply down to a feeling of ambivalence -- for the pair are perhaps a little less in awe of the celebrated trophy than might be expected.

"If you'd have asked me 20 years ago, I'd say it was a dream," remarked Bruno. But today, he says, "this is not a dream -- I should even say I do not care."

This is not for us, it is for our country.
--Loick Peyron, Energy Team
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Instead, the brothers are motivated by a desire to achieve the highest standard from their team. "I am more attracted by trying to do things properly ... the older I get I am less and less interested by the result," explained Bruno.

That said, their apparent nonchalance should by no means be mistaken for a lack of confidence. "Nobody can doubt our potential level," Bruno said.

It's a claim made all the more compelling by recent changes to the America's Cup regulations. The final, held two years from now in San Francisco Bay, will be between large multihull catamarans as opposed to the much smaller monohulls of previous years.

Multihulls are notably faster and, most significantly for French supporters, they are the weapon of choice for the Peyrons -- who have dominated the world in this class for years.

Loick says it was these new regulations that prompted the brothers to mount their Cup challenge, and their introduction has created a wave of optimism among the French sailing elite.

"France finally has a serious chance of seizing victory in the America's Cup, after taking part in every edition since 1970," said Phillippe Court, President of the influential Yacht Club de France, backers of "Energy Team."

But, whether the trophy arrives on French soil or not, will it be both the first and last time that we'll get to see the brothers in action on the same team?

Bruno has welcome news for the brothers' fans: "America's Cup is one, but we are thinking about many others."

 
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