Paprec Group – a well-known sponsor in the world of offshore racing – is strengthening its commitment to competitive sailing as the company embarks on a six-year partnership with OC Sport Pen Duick for the two flagship races of the Figaro Bénéteau circuit and the French Elite Offshore Racing Championship. The French leader in recycling, Paprec will be the Main Partner of La Solitaire du Figaro from 2022 and Title Partner of the Transat en Double Concarneau – Saint-Barthélemy, which has been newly renamed ‘Transat Paprec’.
While the new partnership brings with it the promise of many great sporting moments across the two major events, the Transat Paprec will also become the first transatlantic race to be contested by mixed male/female double-handed crews, as part of a commitment to increase the participation and opportunities for female skippers.
Paprec and sailing: more than two decades in the sport
Paprec and sailing already share a long story. The group was created in 1994 and since then, its commitment to the sport has grown as the company has developed over the years, demonstrating its loyalty to the sector.
For more than twenty years Paprec has supported the greatest champions of ocean racing, including Jean-Pierre Dick, a two-times winner of the Barcelona World Race, four-times winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre, and sailor of the year in 2011. Today, that commitment in the offshore world continues through their support of Yoann Richomme in the construction of a new boat for the Vendée Globe 2024 alongside Arkéa.
While Paprec has celebrated six major victories on the IMOCA circuit and five participations in the Vendée Globe, over the last 12 years the company has also enjoyed many successes within the inshore racing circuit, notably supporting a TP52 skippered by Stéphane Névé.
The group is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic players in sailing sponsorship. Embodying the values of the sport such as teamwork and perseverance, Paprec has grown to become one of the biggest players in recycling and wate management in France.
Paprec supporting La Solitaire du Figaro
Paprec knows La Solitaire du Figaro very well thanks to their support of various skippers who have helmed boats in the colours of the group. In fact, the company’s own Managing Director, Sébastien Petithuguenin, has himself taken part in the flagship event of the France Elite Offshore Racing Championship, that in 2022 will see the skippers taken on 1,980 miles across three stages between the coast and the open sea.
The Paprec group has also announced the creation of a new prize for the race – the Legends Trophy – which Michel Desjoyeaux summed up: “Bringing back the skippers who have marked the history of sailing to confront the new generation in this legendary race is an excellent idea”, with Alain Gautier adding, “It will bring back good memories!”
The Transat Paprec: the first 100% mixed double-handed Transat
Faithful to its historic format, double-handed, on equal terms and contested on the Figaro Bénéteau 3 one-designs, this key event on the calendar has been offering enthusiasts and the general public an exciting and thrilling competition for more than 30 years.
Charting a route of nearly 3,900nm between Brittany in Concarneau and Saint-Barthélemy, the Transat, formerly the Transat Ag2r and now the Transat Paprec, has established itself as a must for the greatest names of the discipline and young talents in the making.
The next edition takes place in 2023, and in collaboration with OC Sport Pen Duick, the FFVoile and the Figaro class, the race has been through a major regeneration, with the establishment of a 100% mixed male/female double-handed format. And while this mixed format is already prevalent in Olympic classes such as the 470 and the Nacra, it is the first time the format will be included in a transatlantic race. It is the aim of the organisers that this new configuration will help make it possible to accelerate access to excellence in ocean racing for women.
Sailors support the new format
The concept of mixed male/female crews is already generating a lot of enthusiasm among sailors including Nils Palmieri, winner of the last double-handed transatlantic race with Julien Villon, who said: “It’s an excellent thing for a lot of reasons, we should be seeking for equality. I think it’s great that men and women sail together on the same boat. It’s also an excellent thing for partners and sponsors, especially mine, for whom the notion of mixed doubles really appeals.”
Corentin Horeau is also supportive, stating that he does “not see a difference between a male skipper and a female skipper.” The sailor recalls his participation last year alongside Elodie Bonafous: “I competed in the last double-handed transatlantic race with Elodie, so a mixed doubles transatlantic race is not only doable but there is a way to get a good result. We have different strengths, even if physically I may be stronger at manoeuvres, Elodie’s control of the tiller is excellent – she was more composed than me!”
Charlotte Yven said: “For my part, I think it’s a great idea, I really like sailing double-handed because I find that in mixed doubles, we are complementary. It’s also great because I think it will open the door to girls who may not have dared yet or hadn’t had the opportunity to get started, there are plenty of motivated and talented girls who will have their place in this race.”
In addition to those sailors who are already active on the circuit, other illustrious skippers have shared their enthusiam about this development, including Alain Gautier who said: “The Olympic sectors promote diversity in racing. Organising the Transat Paprec as a mixed team is an excellent idea. This initiative will encourage and facilitate access to ocean racing for women sailors.”
Armel Le Cléac’h also gave his thoughts: “This new mixed doubles format is consistent with what is done on other circuits. It will be the first offshore race in this form and that is very good news. It’s a great race that I’ve had the chance to win twice – a great transatlantic which can also be a first experience for sailors who will learn from competing with more experienced ones, it’s very good if it also benefits women.”
Jonquil Hackenberg, Chair of The Magenta Project said : “It is fantastic that the Transat en Double has announced that it will now be mixed double-handed race. The Magenta Project fully supports all initiatives that consciously provide opportunities for women in sailing, and for an event such as the Transat en Double to make the decision to be a mixed double-handed race only, is a great step forward. The Figaro class has consistently shown that women can be as competitive as men given the opportunity, and we very much welcome this initiative and hope that this encourages other leading events in our sport to take note and follow this great example.”
“When the World Sailing Trust carried out its strategic review into Women in Sailing in 2019, there was a deep sense of lack of opportunity for women in the sport. It is therefore very encouraging that an event such as the Transat Paprec, has made the decision to mandate for mixed crews. It is only with these sort of initiatives will be able to see better equality in our sport, ” said Victoria Low, Head of the World Sailing Trust.
St-Barthélemy, an exemplary island for a circular economy
A multi-faceted sponsorship, Sébastien Petithuguenin, Managing Director of Paprec, emphasised the significance of Saint Barthélémy to the group. “The arrival in Saint-Barthélémy is an important symbol for the Paprec group. The French Island is indeed exemplary in the management of its waste. For two decades, its managers have bet on high technology with a plant transforming local waste into energy to operate the seawater desalination plant – and therefore to supply the inhabitants with fresh water and electricity from by 2023. Waste management contributes to the island’s energy autonomy and perfectly illustrates the principle of the circular economy. The plant which has just inaugurated its extension is managed by Paprec Energies.”
They said :
Sébastien Petithuguenin, Chief Executive Officer of Paprec :
“The Figaro circuit reflects French excellence. It combines the advantages of a demanding training course that open to everyone at the start of their career, and at the same time guarantees an attractive competition for experienced sailors and sailing fans. The Solitaire du Figaro is the necessary step to access the very big races and to make yourself known to sponsors. The Transat Paprec in mixed doubles will also offer them this possibility.”
Joseph Bizard, General Manager of OC Sport Pen Duick :
“The arrival of Paprec – a loyal partner of French sailing – to the two major events on the Figaro Bénéteau circuit is excellent news. A partner involved for many years in this sport, which understands all its specificities and workings, will now form, alongside the major partners of the Solitaire du Figaro and the Transat Paprec, a solid base for continuing the development of these legendary events.
At OC Sport Pen Duick we know that this long-term commitment and mutual trust is so essential to carry a vision, deploy the full means of our ambitions and continue to innovate to grow our events.
Starting with the 2023 edition of the Transat Paprec – and keeping what has been the strength of the event for 30 years – we have chosen to innovate and make it the first Transat for mixed doubles. Born from our exchanges with our partners, the Figaro class and the French Sailing Federation, this strong concept will position the event at the centre of the challenges of our sport and at the heart of the expectations of the public to promote diversity and contribute to the growth of female sailors. We are very happy to write the most beautiful pages of ocean racing with Paprec.”
Corinne Migraine, Vice-President of the French Sailing Federation :
“The French Sailing Federation is delighted with this partnership. Paprec has been present in sailing for a long time, the regatta is a family affair and there is real legitimacy in seeing Paprec invest in major races such as La Solitaire du Figaro and the Transat Paprec. This mixed doubles transatlantic is an initiative that we support and which is in line with the actions of the French Sailing Federation. It is also a real opportunity to offer a major event on the international scene.”
Jean-Bernard Leboucher, Figaro Beneteau Class :
“It is a great satisfaction for the Figaro Bénéteau Class to see a common partner arrive for two major events on the circuit. Paprec’s long-term commitment is the right strategy for building a winning project with the sailors in the series. The choice of mixed doubles for the Transat is a great idea that will give a new dimension to this historic event. The Class will be present alongside Paprec and OC Sport Pen Duick to encourage the participation of as many people as possible in this race from 2023, but also to develop the Figaro circuit and in particular La Solitaire du Figaro.”