Plotting a course of nearly 3,900nm between Concarneau in Brittany, France and Saint-Barthélemy in the Caribbean, the Transat Paprec, formerly the Transat Ag2r – la Mondiale, is raced on equal terms on the Figaro Bénéteau 3 one-design, placing the emphasise on the skills and teamwork of the skippers.
The landmark move to a mixed male/female format comes as part of a joint commitment to increase the participation and opportunities for female skippers from the organisers OC Sport Pen Duick, Title Partner Paprec and the Figaro class, as OC Sport Pen Duick CEO Hervé Favre explains:
“The double-handed transat – now the Transat Paprec – has always been a race for both professional skippers and young talents in the making. This new evolution with mixed male/female crews is in keeping with that commitment to developing talents while providing a platform for the best skippers to compete. We’re excited to publish the Notice of Race this far out from the event, and we hope to attract a strong international line-up to the 2023 race. We also recognise this new format is a long-term commitment designed to feed more women into the sport and make it more sustainable.”
Established in 1992 when the legendary Michel Desjoyeaux racing with now well-known race director Jacques Caraès took the first victory, the race has been contested every two years since. A postponement of the 2020 edition to 2021 due to Covid meant the race has never missed an edition. The most recent winners are Swiss-skipper Nils Palmieri and France’s Julien Villion, who set the standard to beat in 2021 with a new race record of 18d 05h 08min 03s.
Round the world British yachtswomen Dee Caffari – the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world a total of three times – is one sailor who says the Transat Paprec 2023 has piqued her interest.
“It is a great race, and we all know how competitive the Figaro fleet is. A race of this length would be amazing to be part of. It will give the opportunities for less experienced sailors to collaborate with more experienced sailors and fast track their learning. A mixed format offers a team to showcase complimentary sailing skills that can result is some fabulous, intense racing and I would love to be part of that. So, if anyone needs a partner for the race, please drop me a line!”
Caffari, who is currently racing in the double handed fleet in the UK, went on the speak about the long-term role the race has to play in achieving gender parity in sailing.
“While I am aware we all want to be selected as crew on merit and ability rather than gender, it is a fact that female sailors struggle to find the same opportunities as their male counterparts. An introduction of a rule forces the issue and gives many more female sailors the opportunity. Once we get past a critical mass, we will no longer face the barriers that are all too often presented – such as we lack experience, or we have not done the race before, or we cannot fulfil the role as well as a stronger male sailor,” Caffari said.
Jonquil Hackenberg, Chair of The Magenta Project, also welcomes the move, saying, “It is fantastic that the Transat en Double has announced that it will now be a 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.”
Notice of Race published as organisers announce support structure for teams
The publication of the Notice of Race marks an important milestone for the Transat Paprec with entries now open. Teams who enter before August 30th will benefit from a special early bird entry fee.
Teams will also be supported through a contribution to their return logistics, and accommodation provision in Saint-Barthélemy allowing them to explore the jewel of the north Caribbean, an island known for its immaculate white-sand beaches, wonderful hospitality, watersports and fresh food.
All teams will also benefit from the installation of an onboard Iridium satellite communication system with data costs covered by the organisers, allowing them to communicate on their race and share their stories with followers from around the world. A prize pot of €50,000 which will be shared amongst the top teams is also likely to be a big draw for teams.
Main image © Alexis Courcoux