At 42 years old, Marie Riou has a track record and experience that would make many people pale in comparison. Two participations in the Olympic Games, four Nacra 17 world champion titles with Billy Besson and a victory in the Volvo Ocean Race with Dongfeng Race Team alongside Charles Caudrelier in 2017-2018.
Born in Landerneau in Finistère, Marie Riou has been passionate about dinghy sailing since the age of seven. She turned to light sailing competition. In 1999, she became European and world champion in the 420 class. In 2012, she finished sixth at the London Olympic Games. In 2013, she turned to sport catamaran competition and was crowned world champion on the Nacra 17 in association with Billy Besson; in 2014, again in association with Besson, she won the ISAF World Championship on the Nacra 17. In 2014, she was part of the French Olympic sailing team to represent France at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She will be nominated in duo with Billy Besson for the 2013 Sailor of the Year title among nine sailors, then for the 2014 title before winning in 2015.
In 2018, she became one of the first three women to win the Volvo Ocean Race, aboard Dongfeng Race Team, skippered by Charles Caudrelier. As a result of this victory, Marie Riou and her teammate Carolijn Brouwer were crowned the world's best female sailors for 2018 on 30 October 2018 in Sarasota, Florida.
In the wake of the Volvo, Marie Riou became the first woman to have a key position in SailGP, recruited in the first season, in 2019, as flight attendant for the French F50, long before women sailors became 'mandatory' on the circuit. She has strong memories of the experience, without feeling like a "UFO" in a world that was previously male: "It's true that I was the only woman, but we all knew each other, because we had all more or less crossed paths in Olympic sailing competitions; men or women in these key positions of pilot, wing trimmer or flight trimmer, it's the same thing. It's good today that women are on board, it's a step in the right direction."
In September 2020, Marie Riou won the second edition of the European Mixed Doubles Offshore Championship in Genoa with Benjamin Schwartz. This new event will be contested at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
In 2021, she will join Nicolas Troussel, Benjamin Schwartz and Sébastien Josse on The Ocean Race Europe. Amélie Grassi called on the Brest sailor for her first Transat Jacques Vabre in Class40, an exercise she has taken a liking to.
In 2023, she will be setting off again on the round the world voyage with stopovers with Biotherm and Paul Meilhat.