Fanny Ringrave & Woo Outrigger: Following in the Footsteps of Her Father Guy

On the 14th April 2019 Guy Ringrave, the founder of French canoe brand, Woo Outrigger, disappeared at sea leaving a huge hole in the ocean paddling family and more notably in his immediate family.

Fanny Ringrave,  daughter of Guy found herself slingshotted into the leading the the Woo brand, a position in which she did not forsee to happen. 9 months after this handover, 27 year old Fanny finally feels at home at the head of a healthy company, full of projects and more determined than ever to bring to life to the Woo brand. Charged with the position of following the passions and the values instilled by “Guytou” daughter Fanny turns to a solid team, supportive partners and an incredible Woo Family, comprising of client riders and friends all pulling together supporting Fanny through the best and worst moments in running an ocean paddling brand!

Hello Fanny, family circumstances propelled you to the head of the Woo company, can you tell us more about yourself and your background?

Hello Mathieu. I studied engineer at school and took a slight change in direction and did a masters in fashion management. My background in engineering was fundamental in helping me approach the professional world with rigor and organization and combining this with my master’s degree in fashion led to complete an internship at Quiksilver. Throughout my life I have always been attached to board sports and to the ocean, growing up with a dad like ours, my sister and I we didn’t have much  of a choice!

During my internship at Quiksilver, I moved back into the region. I had been thinking about it for a long time, even whilst my father was there, just like my grandparents, I had never left. At the end of my internship,  Quiksilver froze recruitment so I had to find another job, so then I went to  work for 2 years at a foie gras counter, whilst waiting for WOO to have the means to support an additional position.

Eventually 4 years ago, I landed in Marketing and communication department with Guytou, we formed a stellor team: he took care of commercial development whilst I developed the image of the company, working to build our community under the hashtag #WooFamily. At that time, I  managed the daily life of the workshop, in such a small structure, you have to know how to adapt and be involved in everything!

How did the company Woo react to the disappearance of Guy and how was the transition for you at the head of the company?

WOO and the world of boardsports had suddenly lost a visionary, a passionate and generous man. Obviously for the company it was not  an easy period!

We went through a long phase of turbulence, in which we had to quickly take things in hand. We had to learn who we could trust, understand management issues (and in France, this is not an easy task), take stock of the figures and at the same time manage the concerns of our partners and suppliers!

We have worked hard to advance and save the project. To tell you the truth we went through complicated moments and everything went very quickly. Decisions were sometimes difficult to make because we were never sure of the future, or the outcome. Fortunately for me the team never gave up and I found that I could really count on them. I was also supported and am supported immensely by my sister who has been behind me on each of the important decisions I have had to make, not a day goes by without being called! We talk a lot and have never considered giving up. The support, the tribute and the memor of Guy, I think that’s what has guided us and helped us in this difficult transitional period.

At the end of 2019, we had new partners join us to support our development and we needed it! Now, we have good projects defined and we intend to carry them out!

Frédéric Basse has had an important role in this transitional period, can you tell us who he is?

Frédéric Basse is the former director of Rip Curl Europe. He is a good surfer, a renowned rider and the president of Eurosima. He was a  great friend of my father, in whom he had absolute confidence.

Frédéric is one of the rare people to have reached out to my dad in the most difficult of times. He partnered with my father a few years ago, and invested in the company that he knows inside out. He has always believed in and supported the project. When Guytou disappeared, he accompanied us to help us understand what the next step was, and he helped us clarify the situation and structured our thinking.

Frédéric was really helpful in navigating us through the storm, he always had one goal in mind and that was to save our project and continue to develop the Woo Family and our team. Guytou owed him a lot. WOO owes him a lot. I want to take this opportunity to thank him, from the bottom of my heart, for all that he has done for us.

How did the Woo Family help during this period?

The bond in the Woo Family is our greatest achievement. It’s a loyal and passionate community, always ready to help. They are customers of course, but for almost all of them, they are friends, daily supporters. Woo Family is a state of mind, cohesion, solidarity, fun and resilience, it is them who give us the strength and the desire to go further, to innovate, to create, and to develop!

Like us, the community was deeply shocked by the disappearance of Guytou but banded together to be strong for the brand. Guytou drew strength on a daily basis from his passion and this community, and we did the same! Trust me, when you are lucky to have a community as invested as ours, anything is possible!

What can you tell us about the evolution of the canoe market and how Woo fits into it?

In France, the FFCK (French Federation Canoe Kayak, in which governing body looks after Pirogue) has begun to take the sport seriously, we can see this with recent devleopments and ideas, a recent development has been the setting up of “paddle sport” training courses, this positively affects our market and is really great news that the sport is begun to find a voice! We, at Woo feel that things have really changed in the last 2 years, we are noticing that there is a real craze for the ocean canoe!

It is obvious that through all the tributes the role that Guytou played in the development of this sport and now the role that we must continue to play. His primary desire was to allow everyone to be able to experience the amazing sensation of gliding on the water. This is the exactly what we are trying to pursue here at Woo, especially as the pirogue really compliments other already well-established sports such as dragon boat or SUP.

This direction offers us good opportunities and opens the doors to a much larger market. Also we have seenrecently that new players are always appearing on the market (and therefore competitors!), so it is important to keep an eye on the developments!

The future of the business is promising. This  means that success will depend on the continuous improvement of our products and services. We have to take a step back now and again,  we try to self analyse, and try to constantly reinvent ourselves so we can maintain an essential place on the market. It’s certainly a stimulating experience!

After the launch of the Feline 2 years ago, which was instantly adopted by Olivia Piana and Sonni Honscheid among dozens of other SUP racers, is the link between the world of dugout canoe and Stand Up Paddle still strong?

I think that the these two sports really compliment each other, this is something we feel we don’t need to prove anymore! Many SUP Racers and paddlers have integrated the OC1 into their training, and also just simply out of passion. Last year, Paul Conrad, joined the Team. His Pueo now completes his quiver which now allows him to paddle as many days as possible throughout the year! Recently in Guadeloupe, we were able to initiate a dozen SUP racers in OC DownWind and their smile at the end speaks volumes!

It seems that the Woo base in Guadeloupe has grown a lot in 2019 and 2020.

Can you tell us what has changed in Gwada? We really care about the Woo XP Center in Guadeloupe. It has always been a strategic milestone in the “great adventure” originally developed by Guytou.

We believe that The Downwind Camp is more than just a paddle school, it is an event during which paddlers from all over the world (Canada, Argentina, USA, England, Spain, France) have the opportunity to come together around the same passion.

These are moments of sharing with WooFamily which are very important to us. In addition, there are almost ideal downwind conditions for a good part of the year … so why limit ourselves to 6 weeks? From there was born the idea of ​​a permanent base. Our trusted partner was found: passionate, excellent rower and professional, Benoit Arribat has been involved with us from the start. The project had been delayed by recent events, but we continue to work actively on it, buoyed by the success of the Downwind camp 2020 which is currently taking place!

Where can we find a WOO?

Currently, we export 40% of our production abroad (Canada, South Africa, England, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Norway, Hong-Kong, etc.). If you look closely you will see that our canoes on almost all the seas and oceans on the planet … And that makes us proud 🙂 More seriously, our export represents a major axis of our development, our short and medium term objectives are ambitious. To reach them, we will have to meet several challenges, starting with developing our distribution network. Then, we will have to find the right partners! 🙂

What does the future hold for WOO?

We are motivated to innovate, and to optimize our manufacturing processes (setting up in a larger, more suitable workshop). We want to continue to actively develop employment at our base here in France. Our biggest project for 2020: is a new OC1 pro. We started the plans by taking into account the feedback and the wishes for improvement from our riders and friends.

It will be the first canoe that we will have designed from A to Z, all alone, that is to say without Guytou. So we don’t want to screw it up! It puts alot of pressure on us to realise this goal but it’s positive.

We want to be disruptive, innovate, dream … We want to make a boat that makes a difference. Especially as it will pay tribute to him. We have already decided its name, but for now it remains secret … You will know a little more by this’ summer 🙂

Then, we hope to be able to continue to develop and to offer products and services that are always more suited to the OC practice, to its spirit, and to an even more connected #WooFamily. We also want to act in the service of risk prevention. Safety has become an absolute priority for us … As branded in our DNA. So we are currently working on a safety kit adapted to the practice and compliant with the regulations.

Finally, the success of the Downwind camp 2020, pushes us to consider the opening of two new destinations in the short / medium term. Apart from that, I would say that another project is to continue to develop and prduce a French made OC, with quality manufacturing plus a reactive and efficient after-sales service!

As you see we have alot of projects to develop and continue!

For more information on Woo canoes, go to:



About the Author

Helen Trehoret

SUP, OC1, V6, Surfski ... and field hockey coaching, Helen is a busy British mother of two who lives in Bretagne, France with a passion for all things Ocean. Helen runs Barrachou SUP, a SUP tour company specialized in excursions around Bretagne and Scotland.

Find Helen in the directory:
Barrachou Paddle

To follow Helen: