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Sailors Tour Cape Town to Understand the Impacts of the Drought

Vestas 11th Hour Racing

Grant is given to Environmental Monitoring Group by 11th Hour Racing

Photo Credit: Vestas 11th Hour Racing

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (6 December 2017) – After sailing 7,000 miles from Lisbon, Portugal, the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, to realize that despite having been in the middle of the ocean, their access to fresh water was more consistent than what is available to many in Cape Town. Since 2015, this city and the surrounding area has been facing a severe drought, the worst in recorded history for the region, which climate scientists’ anticipate is a general drying trend for the western parts of southern Africa.

With this crisis in mind, 11th Hour Racing identified Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) as the recipient of their $10,000 grant in Cape Town – this is the third out of the 12 grants that 11th Hour Racing will award throughout the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean as part of their legacy project with Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

EMG is an independent, not-for-profit organization established in 1991. Its work covers a broad range of topics, tied together by the common thread to protect the natural environment and resources that sustain life. This includes fair trade farming, sustainable rural development, and raising awareness and highlighting solutions to the impacts of climate change in the region, including equitable access to water and social justice.

“The truth is that there is no silver bullet for Cape Town’s water crisis. There are no more rivers left to dam, and groundwater aquifers are finite. Desalination is energy intensive, and in South Africa, that means using more fossil-fuel and increasing CO2 emissions,” said Stephen Law, Director of the Environmental Monitoring Group. “At EMG, we are working with communities to reconnect with the value of water and respect for this resource. Discussing not only the best ways to conserve and reuse water, but looking to the future and asking if we should be changing the priorities of water use from swimming pools and green lawns to drinking water for all and water for local farming.”

To learn more about EMG’s work and mission, sailors from Vestas 11th Hour Racing, along with their partners at 11th Hour Racing, Bluewater, and staff from the Volvo Ocean Race, left the race village and headed on a tour of Cape Town.

Read the full story here.

52 Super Series is Setting Trends in Sustainability

By 52 Super Series

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By partnering with 11th Hour Racing in early 2015, the 52 Super Series made a formal, public commitment to tackle its carbon footprint head-on, and begin working to minimise its impact on the environment.

Fast forward three season to where we are now, and today, the 52 Super Series has exceeded its own expectations and is setting trends in sustainability. A hot topic, sustainability has gained its own momentum, and is embraced by competing teams, as well as local host organisations and partners. The 52 Super Series is changing minds and visibly making a difference wherever it goes.

Over the last few decades, the exploitation and degradation of our planet has gone up at an alarming rate. And whilst there is now a real public consensus about the fragile state of things, more often than not, good intent doesn’t translate into meaningful action. The 52 Super Series has been fighting to break that cycle by coupling positive messages with the power of sport. As a team of sailors who love and respect the sea, protecting the racing arena was a natural place to start.

It began with an official announcement, quickly followed up by the formation of a host agreement set out to align 52 Super Series host venues with certain environmental standards, such as waste management. Competing teams were immediately notified about the new strategic direction and encouraged to send a representative to the newly-regular sustainability meetings. The 52 Super Series joined the Green Sports Alliance, and worked hand-in-hand with 11th Hour Racing to develop an all-encompassing sustainability plan that addressed each layer of the organisation.

With new eco-friendly foundations, the newly appointed Sustainability Team started driving forward. In the public fight against single-use plastic, the 52 Super Series has completely removed plastic from its entire operation. No longer is plastic found in lunch packaging, included in lunches as cutlery or distributed by way of grab-and-go water bottles. A model for all sports, this alone has withdrawn a possible 60,000 bottles from circulation.

But plastic is only the tip of the iceberg. So too, have organisers found ways to improve the water supply, waste policies, food provision, fuel usage, materials and transport provision. The list of individual initiatives and policies employed by the 52 Super Series is really quite extensive, and three years down the line, it’s clear that other people and organisations are now seeing this, listening to the arguments, and carrying the important message forward in their own lives.

Sustainability Director for the 52 Super Series, Lars Böcking, reflects on the progress made:

“We are a small, but passionate team who are learning every day. We are incredibly proud of the progress we have made over the last three years. It is our goal to reduce our environmental footprint to nill, or even better: leave each place in better shape than the way we found it, but there is still some way to go.

Regarded as the best monohull racing circuit in the world, the 52 Super Series is a hotbed of top class sailing talent. All eyes are on us. We will reflect on the good work we have done and continue in our important role as influencers in sustainability.”

Given the success of the practical elements that make up part of the Sustainability Plan, the 52 Super Series is now very much focussed on the next steps, on using its influence in new ways.

Read the complete story here.

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Sailing Team Brings Enviro Message to Global Race

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Captain/environmentalist Charlie Enright, at the helm. Photo: Courtesy of James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race

Captain/environmentalist Charlie Enright, at the helm. Photo: Courtesy of James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race

When Mark Towill and Charlie Enright met at Brown University, they were coming from two very different places but had one important thing in common.

“We’ve always shared a passion for the ocean and the wider environment. It’s been part of who we are since we were young, growing up in Hawaii and Rhode Island. The backdrops maybe have been different, but declining marine health and the effects of climate change were fast becoming evident,” says Enright.

Next month, Towill and Enright will lead the Vestas 11th Hour Racing Team as they embark on a sailing race around the world. But while there’s a laser focus on winning, there’s also a serious commitment to spreading the message of sustainability.

Sailing has only solidified the pair’s feelings about the ocean and what that means to their friends and families.

“Together, we’ve decided to take action, [to] become ambassadors for a sustainable future, working with organizations that are aligned with our vision in Vestas and 11th Hour Racing,” Enright says. “As sailors and ocean ambassadors, we’re aware of the enjoyment [the world’s oceans] can bring, as well as the challenges and the peril.

“We’ve taken in breathtaking scenery, yet have witnessed many things that should never have found their way there, like refrigerators, tires, containers and pallets. The oceans deserve our respect and it’s our responsibility to highlight the issues, to be good role models and inspire change.

“We have only explored about five percent of the world’s oceans, yet they’re the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface, driving weather, regulating temperature and ultimately supporting all living organisms.”

The grueling endurance challenge is the Volvo Ocean Race, a multi-leg sailing competition that circles the world. It runs every three years and goes back to 1973. The race starts in the Spanish port of Alicante on Oct. 22 and sails to 11 ports, finishing in the Hague (Netherlands) in June 2018.

Read the full story here.

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