Romain Pilliard (C98), sailor: "I run the Route du Rhum to promote the circular economy"


Sail professional Romain Pilliard (C98) decided to run the Route du Rhum with a trimaran maintained according to the circular economy principles – because the fight against pollution also takes place at sea.

EA: Why did you decide to defend the circular economy cause specifically?

R. Pilliard: I spent a lot of time on the sea, I travelled all over the world, including in China, and what I saw – the pollution, the plastic, the unbreathable air, the non-drinking water, the climate change –  shook me to the core… It makes you realize that we went too far. We have no choice now but to find alternative solutions to our way of consuming and doing business. And we need to do it fast. Admittedly, there are many on-going initiatives, but it is time now that every stakeholder from every field jumps on board.
We still have a lot to do in the water sport industry, but nothing is impossible. As a first step, we at EOL Sports & Lifestyle  agency make sure that all the events we organize do not have any impact on the environment. We achieve that through waste management, furniture recycling or transformation, signalling system, awareness campaigns, and commitment with a foundation dedicated to environmental protection.
Promoting the circular economy as part of the Route du Rhum is a logic continuation of those efforts. Re-taking the helm on a race that is so famous with such a sailboat as the “Use It Again!” trimaran is a way to show that circular economy and performance are perfectly compatible.

EA: What makes this trimaran a circular economy model?

R. Pilliard: We brought this trimaran back last year and paid close attention to the materials we chose and the transformation or recycling process we used to renovate whatever equipment that turned out obsolete. We tried to reuse most existing parts and to be creative instead of going the easy way and trading all components for new ones. For example, we partnered with a big, international sail-loft to think about various solutions to reuse existing sails and adapt them to our trimaran. We are also going to produce parts in 3D impression with recycled thread.
The idea is to show what we can achieve in the area of circular economy at the highest level of the ocean racing, so as to inspire all nautical industry players, from boat manufacturers to sailors.

EA: How can the ESSEC community support your project?

R. Pilliard: Our first partners allowed us to launch the project. The trimaran is now ready to sail and I am officially registered in the most challenging category of the Route du Rhum named Ultime including 6 giant trimarans. Both my logistic and communication team and my technical and sports team gather the best in their fields. A very powerful international group of media has joined the project.
However, I am still looking for sponsors. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to associate your image to my “Use It Again!” campaign and benefit from the Route du Rhum’s huge media coverage and PR events.
Also, there may be leaders, journalists and communication directors within the ESSEC community who could help me do things the big way. Again, get in touch with me!
Last but not least, every graduate is welcome on the LinkedIn group “Use It Again! Road of the Rum 2018”. I would really love to share this project with the community. It is not very often that an alumnus runs the Route du Rhum! It is a rare opportunity to unite ESSEC’s graduates and students around an outstanding human and sports adventure with a strong and important message for the new generations.

EA: What are the next steps of this adventure?

R. Pilliard: First, finding the partners who will secure my participation to the race. Then, launching the boat, training for 6 months with a famous skipper, doing public relations and communicating from May till October … And setting sail on November 4th at 2 pm!


An interview by Louis Armengaud Wurmser (E11)


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