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Sustainability and ocean conservation put at forefront of 2018 Youth Sailing Worlds

by Daniel Smith, World Sailing 19 Jul 2018 10:37 BST 14-21 July 2018
Sustainability and ocean conservation put at forefront of 2018 Youth Sailing Worlds © World Sailing

Sustainability and ocean conservation is at the forefront of the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas, USA as the event bids to become a benchmark for all future World Sailing events.

A total of 382 sailors from 66 nations are in Corpus Christi, basking in idyllic sailing conditions that result in some of the biggest smiles in Texas at the end of the day.

But away from the competition, the sailors are embracing the theme of the event to protect the future of the oceans.

In collaboration with Sustainability Partner, 11th Hour Racing, the leading sailing and maritime sustainability supporter, numerous activities and initiatives are in place for sailors to engage with and take back home.

The event has put a total ban on single use plastic – from bottles, straws, food bags and even cable ties. Sailors' hydration is imperative and sailors can fill their reusable water bottles from 'Water Monsters' provided by 11th Hour Racing to keep them hydrated ashore. Every support boat on the water is equipped with water pumps to fill the volunteers bottles and those of the sailors after each race.

Ashore, all plates, cups and packaging are fully compostable with services provided by New Earth and an educational solar composting unit is on display in the boat park.

Throughout the week, sailors have been taking the UN Clean Seas pledge and educational, experiential activities on marine life have also been held throughout the event.

Holding this all together is the Event Green Team, a group of volunteers who have been tasked with delivering all of the highlights and educating the competitors on best practices to take back to their home nation.

"The thing is with plastic is that it's so harmful," commented U.S. Virgin Islands Nacra 15 sailor Teddy Nicolosi. "If we can implement something like this at a World Championship it will really highlight how much plastic events use. This will certainly set the precedent for other events and hopefully this will happen at other events to help stop pollution and save the planet.

"Before coming here, I never really thought about it but now I'm here I'm really thinking about the sea and the animals that are harmed. I'm definitely going to start using reusable water bottles."

Belgium's Nacra 15 representative Frederique van Eupen added, "It's really important to have initiatives like this because we are sailors are the ocean is ours.

"I am going to stop using plastic bottles from now on and now we've got metal straws so I'm going to use those as well."

Throughout the week, the 382 sailors' will be voting for who they think has embraced the sustainability initiatives and gone the extra mile. At the closing ceremony on Friday 20 July, the sailor with the most votes will receive a Youth Worlds sustainability award for their efforts.

Ahead of racing, Dr Sylvia Earle, an internationally award winning oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer, delivered a keynote address at the Opening Ceremony hosted by 11th Hour Racing and The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

Earle stressed to the sailors the importance of ocean health. Generational change starts at the grassroots level, and Earle implored the sailors to spread the word of environmental stewardship in their homelands.

An exhibition of artwork made from ocean plastic by Sheila Rogers is on display during the event to educate not only the competitors, but also the local community on the issue.

Following the event, a report detailing key metrics around energy, waste, water and fuel used will be generated to analyse the overall impact.

World Sailing will then use these metrics as a benchmark for all future events.

The sustainability goals for the Championship are:

  • Reach the Platinum Level of Clean Regatta, as designated by Sailors for the Sea.
  • Promote environmental awareness and ocean conservation to the youth participants in the regatta and local South Texas community by including an environmental education component in the regatta festivities.
  • Create a legacy program to be incorporated in future World Sailing Championships and other events. Actively working with the Texas Sailing Association to use the Youth Worlds as a springboard for implementing Clean Regatta practices in Texas. Details can be provided.
  • Creating a Corpus Christi Clean Event Plan for City of Corpus Christi based on the actions taken during this regatta.
  • Publish a sustainability report based on GRI Standards, which can be used as a benchmark for future World Sailing Championships.

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