Twenty-one-year-old takes on Solitaire Du Figaro

Paddy Hutchings is a 21-year-old sailor from Plymouth and from an early age, grew up sailing around the southwest of England.

He has been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to take sailing to the next level. After finishing his A levels, he competed on the world stage, representing Great Britain and also for teams such as Team Malizia and Pip Hare Ocean Racing, both established ‘around the world’ racing teams.

After gaining experience and sailing with these teams, he has now decided it is the right time to launch his project, to race in the legendary Solitaire Du Figaro. This gruelling offshore race takes place around the French coast for over 2500 nautical miles in August 2022. The Solitaire Du Figaro attracts the world’s best sailors and is a huge event in the sailing calendar worldwide.

Paddy on a boat in his yellow and black wet weather gear.
“I want to inspire other young people to see that sailing is achievable for everyone,” Hutchings said. Pic – @robrow

Hutchings wants to use his involvement in this event, not only to compete under the British flag, but also to raise awareness of ocean plastic pollution with his #Sail4Sustainability Project. He intends to use the platform it brings him to encourage a more sustainable approach to plastic usage through two key areas.

The first, is through the education of children, using the boat to engage young people and encourage them to be more sustainable with their plastic usage. He has a goal of speaking at over 10 schools in the local Plymouth area by the end of the year.

The second focus is through industry, starting with companies within the marine industry and trying to shift their decisions in the way they use plastic to more sustainable methods. Hutchings is fortunate enough to have been sponsored by Gill Marine for the last four years, and over this journey, they have switched to more sustainable sources of production within their new sail clothing range. For example, some of their jackets are now produced using plastic bottles found in the sea. Hutchings will be wearing this clothing when he races in the Figaro.

Hutchings also is an ambassador for the Royal Western Yacht Club and will be bringing the boat back to Plymouth after the race to raise the aspirations of young people and encourage them to see sailing as a sport for them.

Whilst Hutchings has been able to gain sponsorship from both local and national businesses, he now needs to secure the final sponsorship in order for him to complete the bid. He has been funding a large amount of his training himself, and has had some promising results. In December he pulled together a small team to compete in France on a tiny budget with the help of their families and finished 12th in the French Figaro National Championships, beating some professional teams with large sponsorship backing.

“I want to inspire other young people to see that sailing is achievable for everyone and I also want to use my platform, competing in the Solitaire, to motivate others to think about the effect of plastic in our oceans,” Hutchings said.

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