credit: Guillaume Gatefait

11th Hour Racing Sponsors UpWind by MerConcept’s Groundbreaking Women’s Offshore Sailing Team

In an exciting development for the sailing world, 11th Hour Racing proudly unveiled its sponsorship of UpWind by MerConcept today. The initiative, founded by François Gabart, an ambassador for 11th Hour Racing, aims to recruit, train, and support a team of six talented female sailors as they compete in the challenging Ocean Fifty offshore sailing circuit.

Functioning as the Founding Sponsor, 11th Hour Racing is firmly behind UpWind by MerConcept’s mission to foster a more inclusive and diverse sailing community. The initiative provides a unique platform for individuals from diverse backgrounds to access top-notch offshore sailing training and professional development opportunities.

MerConcept, a renowned high-performance hub for offshore sailing and sustainable technologies based in Brittany, France, is the driving force behind UpWind. The initiative aims to create competitive opportunities for the next generation of sailors, enabling them to explore, learn, and excel on the open sea through a global racing schedule on an Ocean Fifty high-performance trimaran.

With the ultimate goal of supporting a female skipper on the startline in a multihull for the 2026 Route du Rhum, a single-handed transatlantic yacht race, UpWind by MerConcept is set to break barriers and set new standards in high-performance sailing.

Michelle Carnevale, President of 11th Hour Racing, expressed the organization’s commitment to increasing diversity in high-performance sailing. She stated, “Sponsoring MerConcept signifies our commitment to increasing diversity in high-performance sailing and aims to set a precedent for other sports organizations.”

Applications for UpWind by MerConcept are open until March 24, 2024, inviting passionate individuals who share the commitment to diversity, inclusion, and sustainable excellence in offshore sailing to apply.

Cécile Andrieu, Director of Racing at MerConcept, expressed delight at the support from 11th Hour Racing. She said, “We are thrilled to welcome 11th Hour Racing to this transformative journey. Their commitment to sustainability, diversity, and innovation aligns seamlessly with our vision for a more inclusive and environmentally conscious future in offshore sailing.”

Earlier this month, 11th Hour Racing announced its support of professional offshore sailor Francesca Clapcich as the inaugural skipper of UpWind by MerConcept. Clapcich will serve as a spokesperson and mentor for the participating sailors, with her role extending into 2025.

The Ocean Fifty trimaran, acquired by MerConcept at the end of 2023, is currently undergoing a complete refit and is scheduled to be launched at the end of March. The organization is integrating sustainable practices into all aspects of the project, including developing a carbon fiber recycling strategy and installing scientific equipment on the Ocean Fifty to measure ocean health data points.

The official race schedule for the 2024 Ocean Fifty circuit is yet to be announced, but it is anticipated to include four events between June and October, including a transatlantic race from west to east. The sailing community eagerly awaits the groundbreaking performances and positive impact that UpWind by MerConcept is poised to bring to the future of ocean racing.




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