Sailors for the Sea educates sailors and boaters about protecting the oceans. Their partnership with America’s Cup, a race between two yachts that is the oldest trophy in international sport, allows them to reach sailors from countries around the world.
“Now, we are moving to an international level,” explains Dan Pingaro, CEO. “[Sailors] can make a positive difference on the ocean,” he says.
Pingaro says involving sailors is imperative because of the problems facing our oceans today, including a changing pH balance and plastics floating in the water. The changing pH balance has an impact on shellfish, coral fish, and feeder fish for larger ocean dwellers. And plastic trash is the major component of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, among other polluted areas.
Currently, a series of yacht races called the America’s Cup World Series are occurring in locations around the world, leading up to the final event in 2013. Sailors for the Sea promotes sustainability during each race through their Clean Regattas program.
The program’s goal is to lessen the impact of sailing on oceans and provide third-party certification that a sailing program is dedicated to certain environmental practices.
A Clean Regatta reduces material waste and debris in the ocean and on the coast, as well as contamination entering the water. The Sailors for the Sea website outlines 19 best practices for holding a Clean Regatta including:
- Supply water stations and reusable bottles to decrease plastic use
- Get volunteers to form a “Green Team” for “shore and sea cleanup,” recycling, and information sharing
- Push the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products
- Require motorized vehicles to carry equipment for preventing oil spills
- Encourage sailors to scrub their hulls before the event to reduce strain on the water
- Reduce energy use, purchase carbon offsets, or do a percentage of both
- Use only biodegradable utensils for event activities in case they end up in the water
- Use non-toxic bottom paint on tenders and support boats
Educating the Next Generation
Sailors for the Sea also educates junior sailors and boaters on rivers and lakes about how their actions can have an effect on larger bodies of water.
Using environmental lesson plans called Rainy Day Kits, Sailors for the Sea program specialist Hilary Weich teaches young sailors about marine ecology. Students participate at yacht clubs and in sailing programs, gaining “a clear connection to and understanding of the marine ecosystems that thrive beneath their hulls,” according to the Sailors for the Sea website.
Such programs are important, the site says, because, “Sailors with an understanding of marine ecology are more likely to develop a strong passion for protecting and preserving their oceans and local waters.”
Oceans aren’t the only bodies of water that need care, however. “Inland pollution can have an effect on the oceans,” Pingaro says. “Plastic can get in a river in Nebraska and travel down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico.”
Pingaro suggests that local boaters who use inland rivers and lakes can compost their trash and use environmentally friendly detergent to clean their boats, which reduces harm to fish.
Keeping local waters clean is important for other reasons than just protecting the oceans, Pingaro says. “Clean and healthy local waters provide for a diverse economy, including swimming, sailing, and boating.”
The World’s Oldest Trophy
The America’s Cup has a long history — the trophy was first awarded 160 years ago. The ultimate competition is between the previous winner (the defender) and a single challenger.
The 34th America’s Cup is September 7–22, 2013 in San Francisco, California. The AC World Series allows sailing teams to train for the championship and vie for the Louis Vuitton Cup, which is the racing series to select the challenger.
Leading up to the final event are a series of 16 worldwide regattas. For the 34th America’s Cup, these races began in August in Cascais, Portugal.
The second regatta was held in September in Plymouth, England, and the next will be held November 12–20 in San Diego, California.
America’s Cup Sustainability Series
The America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) is promoting sustainability for the 34th event. Besides partnering with Sailors for the Sea, America’s Cup is promoting the AC Sustainability Series.
The series includes activities such as these, which were held during the Plymouth, England race:
- America’s Cup teams and local volunteers removed marine debris from the coastline on Coxside and Tinside beaches (see opening photo).
- The second AC Sustainability Forum featured leading experts who discussed marine protected areas, including leading oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle; Dr. David Gibson of the National Marine Aquarium; Dr. Jason Hall-Spencer of the University of Plymouth; and founder of the Blue Climate and Ocean Project, Conrad Humphreys.
To deliver a sustainable America’s Cup event, the ACEA and the San Francisco Department of the Environment developed the 34th America’s Cup Draft Sustainability Plan, which is available for public review until October 21.
The plan aims to minimize impact of the America’s Cup race on local waters through the following actions:
- Use energy more effectively and lessen related air emissions
- Maximize the use of natural resources
- Protect local habitats and wildlife
- Raise awareness of sustainability at the event
The public is invited to help America’s Cup by providing feedback about their sustainability plan. Submit comments to firstname.lastname@example.org/.
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