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Zhik 2024 March - LEADERBOARD

Applications strong for UpWind by MerConcept: One week left to apply

by MerConcept 16 Mar 00:07 PDT
Francesca Clapcich © G. Gatefait | MerConcept

With a little over one week to go before applications close for the brand new offshore training hub, UpWind by MerConcept, over 30 submissions have already been received from female sailors based in 13 different countries. With experience from the offshore, inshore, and Olympic worlds, the sailors have applied from countries as far afield as New Zealand, Mexico, India, and Lithuania.

"This is exactly what we hoped for when we launched UpWind," said Louis Giard, the newly appointed Team Manager. "Not only do we have 30 strong applications so far, we have also had calls and messages from some very talented sailors indicating their intention to apply, so we anticipate this number will increase significantly over the final week."

UpWind by MerConcept is supported by Founding Sponsor 11th Hour Racing and developed to create a pool of female sailing talent based for the next two years around the Ocean Fifty tour, the international multihull racing circuit. The ambition is to see a female Ocean Fifty skipper on the startline of the 2026 solo Route du Rhum race from St Malo, France to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, and also provide a training platform that elevates the skills of female offshore sailors, creating opportunities to join mixed-gender crews for Jules Verne Trophy attempts for the fastest circumnavigation of the planet under sail.

Applications for UpWind by MerConcept close on March 24, 2024, and after an initial review and first-phase video interviews, a shortlist of 12 candidates will be invited to MerConcept's Concarneau base in the home of offshore sailing, in Brittany, France. The 12 candidates will be put through their paces over five days of assessments from April 15-19, from technical and physical, performance and teamwork. The successful sailors will then be assigned to either the racing or the training and development squads.

UpWind by MerConcept will enter a team for the 2024 and 2025 Ocean Fifty tour, which this year includes four European Acts (events) and a west-to-east transatlantic race from St Pierre and Miquelon, the French archipelago south of Newfoundland, to Saint-Brieuc, France. It is anticipated that the racing calendar will be announced by the Ocean Fifty tour organizers in the coming days.

Francesca Clapcich, the appointed skipper for UpWind by MerConcept, said, "The UpWind program will be an opportunity for female sailors to undergo intensive training to help close the skills gap and add valuable miles to their CVs, supporting the route to an equitable pathway in the offshore sailing world. This isn't about inspiring change, this is about creating change. Our sport is one of very few that can have athletes of all genders competing alongside each other equally - let's use this uniqueness to level the playing field for all sailors in our sport. We have to change the status quo and I'm excited to have received so much positive feedback and support from our sailing community."

The application form for UpWind by MerConcept can be found here.

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