Supporting growth of female skills

Published on February 13th, 2024

Francesca Clapcich, two time Olympian and the only Italian to win The Ocean Race, will lead a new project by MerConcept, a notable French company involved in offshore racing projects. Called UpWind by MerConcept, Clapcich will skipper their new racing program that will provide female sailors with racing opportunities at the highest levels of the sport.

Alongside founding partner 11th Hour Racing, the initial plan is to compete for the next two years in the Ocean Fifty offshore trimaran circuit in a multi-event series, including a west-to-east transatlantic race. Mentored by some of the industry’s most experienced sailors and technical shore teams, the program seeks to be a pioneering initiative designed to promote diversity, inclusion, and sustainable excellence in offshore sailing.

Reports Clapcich, “I totally share the vision of François Gabart, a Vendée Globe winner and the Founder of MerConcept when he says, ‘Teams perform at their best when they comprise diverse talent. A first step to achieving this is to support the growth in the critical mass of talented female sailors with offshore multihull experience so that all teams taking on challenges like the Jules Verne Trophy will have mixed crews in the future.’ Bring it on!

“We are looking for sailors with experience from all over the world and across all disciplines of the sport – inshore, offshore, match-racing, Olympics. A shortlist of twelve candidates will be invited to come to France for a week-long selection process, and then a squad of six female sailors will be part of a rotating performance crew, boosted by a delivery and training crew.

“Applications are now open for female sailors to apply to be part of the program. Deadline is March 24, 2024 so please do apply and share with anyone who you know could be suitable.

“For those of you who might not know of MerConcept, it is the home of some of the biggest offshore names in our sport. They have run the campaigns for François Gabart, Charlie Dalin, and Tom Laperche, and were also performance partners to 11th Hour Racing Team for The Ocean Race 2022-23.

“Based in Concarneau, France, right in the heart of the offshore sailing world, the 100-strong team are experts in boat design, boat building, performance racing, composites, engineering – you name it! They have also developed a solid reputation and talent with their sustainable innovation laboratory – pushing the boundaries of technology to reduce the sport’s impact on our blue planet. They are the perfect partners for this game-changing program.”

Italian by birth, and now residing in Park City, Utah with wife Sally Barkow and their daughter, Clapcich sits on the board of the Park City Task Force, advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in the community, building programs and events to expand the outreach of the organization, creating a safe place and access to support resources, sport, and the outdoors for everyone in the region.

• Additional information:
• To apply, click here.

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