Now for what we think is the feel-good story of the yacht racing year so far.
On paper at least, French solo skipper Romain Pilliard’s entry in the Ultim Class at the 2018 Route du Rhum singlehanded transatlantic race doesn’t stand much of a chance against the rest of the multihull fleet.
Pilliard, 42, is up against the four titans of the solo offshore world: Thomas Coville on Sodebo; Francois Gabart on MACIF; Sebastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild; and Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire.
All four of these legends of singlehanded ocean racing will race state-of-the-art boats that have cost tens of millions of Euros to design, build and develop – while Pilliard will be racing a refurbished trimaran that dates back to 2003 when the Nigel Irons and Benoit Cabaret-designed boat was built for British yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur’s 2005 round the world record setting voyage.
Performance-wise, Pilliard’s Use it Again trimaran stands no chance against his bigger and largely foil-enabled rivals. Barring the retirement of the favourites he stands no chance of getting within a sniff of the podium places.
But winning is not why Pilliard is in the race in the first place. Rather his goal is to raise public awareness for the Circular Economy. The French skipper has three goals for the project:
• To alert the general public of the urgency of changing our consumption patterns
• To show that a successful project can fit into a circular economy
• To give a voice to other initiatives in the circular economy
Pilliard found MacArthur’s old boat in a sorry state in Brest, France several years ago and has been working since then to bring it back to life adhering to the ethos of the circular economy. Where possible the materials used for the refit have largely been refurbished or recycled within the constraints of technical and safety considerations.
As a huge advocate of the Circular Economy herself we can only imagine that (the now Dame) Ellen MacArthur – although long retired from professional yacht racing – must be pleased to hear that her trusty trimaran on which she spent 70+ days alone around the world has been so successfully upcycled.
More on Romain Pilliard and Use It Again here.