How is the regatta world promoting sustainability

How is the regatta world promoting sustainability?

Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 25 July 2017

It is almost unnecessary to say that the majority of us would like to see our seas and waterways free of contamination and plastic pollution. Most of us would also like to be part of the generation that leaves a more environmentally sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. 

These days, huge steps are being made in raising awareness about these issues, and a lot of worthwhile sustainability projects are already underway and starting to make a difference. But, continuously reminding every one of us that we have an environmental responsibility as ‘Stewards of Planet Earth,’ must always be an ongoing campaign.

Here we will look at what the world of sailing and regattas is doing to drive the sustainability message home via their event organisations, and the high-visibility public profile that it gives them.

Sir Ben Ainslie, a sailing hero with green ideals

When he set out to challenge for the 35th America’s Cup with the ambition to bring it back to the UK, Ben Ainslie attracted a lot of inward investment for his quest, but right from the start, he made sure to dedicate important resource to the concept of sustainability.

“Our generation has a responsibility to reverse the negative impact we have been having on our environment!” These are the words used by Sir Ben in his introduction to the following short video. 

Why not take 3 minutes to listen to what he says about the actions that he and his Land Rover BAR team have been undertaking. These range from end-of-life planning / recycling for their carbon fibre boats, through to reducing the use of fossil fuels, avoiding single-use plastic containers, and participating in the regeneration of oyster beds in the Solent waters near their base; an important contributor to ocean purity and bio-diversity.

Video presentation by Sir Ben Ainslie: 

th Hour Racing - sustainably supporting the sailing community.

Sir Ben Ainslie’s sustainability program has been strategically supported right from the start by the organisation run by Wendy Schmidt, whose husband Eric is the chairman of Google.

Over 150 sustainability projects have been funded or partly-funded by the philanthropy of the Schmidt Family Foundation.

11th Hour Racing is the sailing focused arm of The 11th Hour Project, which concentrates its work around energy and renewables.  During the 2013 Americas Cup in San Francisco, 11th Hour promoted a scheme to rid San Francisco of plastic bottles during the event. The city has since banned the sale of plastic bottles in public spaces.

Schmidt supported another titled British sailing legend before she teamed up with Ainslie. In 2012, she launched the Schmidt MacArthur Fellowship Programme with Dame Ellen MacArthur, to help support MacArthur’s own foundation, which also promotes environmental sustainability issues such as the Circular Economy.

More info about the 11th Hour Project:

Clean Regatta Program from Sailors for the Sea.

As an organisation that works tirelessly to educate boaters about how to improve the ocean environment for all, Sailors for the Sea have instigated what they claim is ‘the world’s only sustainability certification for water-based events.’

The Clean Regatta Program is based around 25 best practices that can be implemented by any water-based event. They cover the main themes of Event Management, Waste Reduction, Race Management, Food and Beverage, and Venue Management.  

World Sailing Org. establishes Sustainability Commission.

World Sailing is the world governing body for the sport of sailing, officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

Following the announcement of the organisation’s sustainability strategy in November 2016, a leading group of experts have now been appointed to its first sustainability commission, which will be chaired by Mike Golding OBE. As one of the world’s most accomplished and successful offshore sailors, Golding will lead a team with a common passion and desire to drive sustainability within sailing and the marine industry forward.

Dan Reading has joined that team as Sustainability Program Manager. Dan was London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competition Sustainability Manager, and has worked with several organisations implementing sustainable event management systems, including RYA / British Marine, Land Rover BAR, and the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy.  

Extreme Sailing Series, working with Blue Marine Foundation.

Established in 2007, the Extreme Sailing Series™ is the original Stadium Racing sailing circuit designed for spectators, delivering high-performance action close to shore and putting guests at the heart of the battle.

Sometimes compared with the Formula 1 Grand Prix experience in the motor racing world, the series attracts some of the world’s top sailors, racing the hydro-foiling GC32 catamarans on short courses. The global circuit spans the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the Americas: a perfect platform to get the ocean sustainability message across to a wide audience.

In 2013, OC Sport (the organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series™), made an important decision about their support for ocean sustainability and announced a global partnership with Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE).

BLUE aims to actively and effectively protect 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020, through a network of marine reserves and private sector-led solutions in the sea. 

More info here:

These are just a few examples, we know that plenty more sustainability schemes are being implemented in the sailing world; for example, the Global Ocean Race and the 52 Super Series.

Do you know of any others? Do have experience of being involved in them?

Please leave us your comment We would love to hear from you!

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