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Hive Energy and Will Harris announce Beneteau Figaro 3 partnership

by Will Harris 9 Dec 2018 17:21 GMT 7 December 2018
Will Harris at the helm of his Beneteau Figaro 2 in 2016 when he won the rookie category in La Solitaire du Figaro © Stan Thuret

A new Beneteau Figaro 3 will be named 'Hive Energy' in January 2019 as the global solar power business, Hive Energy Ltd, announce their support of British single-handed sailor Will Harris in the 2019 Figaro season.

As one of the first 50 Figaro 3s released, Hive Energy will join the French dominated single-handed offshore racing circuit, the Championship du France Elite.

At the helm will be Will Harris who hails from Weybridge, Surrey. At 24-years-old Harris is no beginner to the offshore sailing world, having competed in the Figaro circuit in 2016 with the Offshore Academy. He found success, as the youngest competitor, winning the coveted 'Rookie' category (which recognises future sailing talent) in La Solitaire du Figaro as well as several other races.

Since his last appearance in 2016 Harris has delved into other offshore racing. In 2017 he was part of the Vendee2020Vision project, co-skippering an IMOCA 60 in the RORC series. He then took up a role as a Race Expert for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, providing navigational analysis and safety management for the race.

Whilst working with the VOR, Harris competed in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race 2018, navigating onboard Lombard 46 Pata Negra alongside Hive Energy CEO Giles Redpath, who was also the skipper and owner. Together, the pair led Pata Negra to claim IRC overall victory.

Commenting on the partnership, Harris said, "I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to return to the Figaro Circuit. It is a truly challenging fleet and one that is yet to be broken by a British sailor. With the support of Hive Energy and Giles, who is a very experienced sailor himself, I believe I have an excellent chance of making a mark. Hive Energy have also provided me with a platform to build upon towards my ultimate goal of winning the Vendée Globe race. Therefore, a number of smaller partnerships for interested businesses are available for the coming season."

Giles Redpath, CEO and Founder of Hive Energy said "I am delighted to be supporting Will Harris in his mission to beat the French at their own game. The Solitaire next year will include many legends of French offshore sailing, such as Loick Peyron, I look forward to lining up against them on the start-line of some of the two-handed events. Having sailed with Will in the RBI this year I recognised that he is a very talented young sailor who deserves our support. Hive Energy is a developer and investor in Clean Energy projects across Europe, there's no cleaner energy than the sport of sailing so I'm sure Will can be a good ambassador for our brand."

The coming season will see the release of the new Beneteau Figaro 3 yacht to the circuit. A modern piece of yachting design that uses foil technology to aid performance. As with the Figaro 1 and 2, the third generation boat will be kept to strict one-design rules for racing. The first 50 boats produced for the 2019 season will even be released from the Beneteau factory on the same day in January 2019, keeping training time equal and ensuring there are no unfair advantages.

Harris believes the new yacht will improve his chances of success, "The brand-new Figaro 3s will mean the one-design racing is back to a completely level playing field. Nobody knows how to make the boat go quickly yet. When racing the Figaro 2 back in 2016, there were sailors who had raced the boats for over 15 years and of course they knew more about the boat than I did. Everyone will be training very hard when the boats get released in January."

The 2019 Figaro circuit will feature five offshore races; two double-handed and three single-handed. The main solo race of the season, the La Solitaire URGO - LeFigaro, is considered the unofficial offshore world championships.

The Sardinha Cup, a new addition to the circuit, will take its place as the first race of the season at the end of March. The race is set to follow a fishing route between St-Gilles-Croix-De-Vie, France and Lisbon, Portugal and will be sailed double-handed.

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