Please select your home edition
Edition
Ovington Boats 2014

Celebrating Sir Robin, Earth Day and a cleaner vision for our planet

by David Schmidt 23 Apr 16:00 BST April 23, 2019
Sir Robin pictured in 1969 crossing the finish line in Golden Globe Race © Bill Rowntree / PPL Media

April 22 is an important day for all sailors, starting first with the fact that it is internationally celebrated as Earth Day, followed quickly by the fact that on April 22, 1969, the great Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to sail solo and unassisted non-stop around the world to win the 1968-1969 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. This means that this week marks both the 50th anniversary of Sir Robin's mind-bending accomplishment (read: 1968 levels of technology, navigation and communications technology) and an opportunity for people and communities great and small to consider ideas and solutions for lowering our species' collective environmental wake.

Not surprisingly, this latter challenge isn't going so well for Team Planet Earth right now, at least not if one views plastic in the ocean, soaring global temperatures, and glacier and ice-pack melt-off as canaries in our collective coal mine. However, there are positive steps being taken by forward-leaning people inside and outside of the sailing world, and there's plenty of remaining leeway for the rest of us to do our bit to help.

For example, word is spreading about a new technique that's emerging in Rhode Island to turn tired old fiberglass boats into cement, an economically viable technology is being developed in British Columbia, Canada, for removing carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere, and entire Caribbean island nations have banned single-use plastics (bags, straws, drinking cups, et al) in an effort to clean up their acts.

While these bold acts should be encouraged and adopted globally, there's zero reason to stop there, or to limit one's thinking to the end-of-life phase for boats or plastic bags. For example, The Ocean Race (nee Volvo Ocean Race) just announced a partnership with 11th Hour Racing that's aimed at promoting ocean heath.

This new initiative is called "Racing with Purpose for Ocean Health", and will focus on a series of eleven different Ocean Summits, which will take place at The Ocean Race global stopovers, as well as a new education program, a new focus on onboard renewable energy products, and a continuation of the science program that was developed in the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race.

"The sailing community has a deep connection with the sea so it's natural that we would work together to safeguard its future," said Johan Salen, Managing Director of The Ocean Race, in an official press release. "Through this partnership with 11th Hour Racing, and by harnessing the power of sport, we are using our collective global influence and extensive networks to reach millions of people to affect meaningful, long-term change for ocean health."

Sail-World applauds this collaboration between The Ocean Race and 11th Hour Racing, as well as all of the other great work that's being done to limit humanity's wear-and-tear on Planet Earth, and we sincerely encourage all sailors to consider grassroots changes to lower our collective waste, reduce our carbon-dioxide output, and-perhaps most poignantly for our sailing community: to commit to eliminating our dependence on single-use plastics.

It's a long uphill battle for sure, perhaps a lot like setting out, solo, on a 32-foot wooden boat with stars in one's eyes and a dream to sail all the way around the world entirely alone... but with the right level of commitment, old-fashioned gumption, and a bit of sailor-inspired ingenuity, there's no reason that our species can't turn the tide on a problem that we created.

As for Sir Robin, there's no question that this brilliant sailor opened the world's eyes to the possibilities - and the magic - of offshore sailing, and we find it especially fitting that he completed his journey on the same day that would be selected as Earth Day just one year after Suhaili's bow crossed the finishing line off of Falmouth, England.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

Related Articles

Do jump on board
Two weeks ago in All aboard the bandwagon! we looked at the new Offshore event for 2024 Two weeks ago in All aboard the bandwagon! we looked at the new Offshore event that will be part of the 2024 Paris (Marseilles) Olympics. Nick from Hobart was one who expressed his own opinion, and allows me to share his sentiments here. Posted on 15 Sep
Spectacular YJA MS Amlin Awards Gala Dinner
YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year and YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year 2019 announced The YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year and the YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year Awards were presented during a Gala Dinner at the Grand Café Southampton on the 13th September, following on from Press Day at the Southampton International Boat Show. Posted on 14 Sep
Make 2019 count! Beach clean
Big or small, here's how to make it fun It might seem like an impossible task, but cleaning up our beaches is one way all sailors can all make a difference, and it can be fun too, as increasing numbers of our community are realising. Posted on 13 Sep
Soybean or Peanut Oil?
We had The Good Oil, More Good Oil, and then Smothered in Oil. We had The Good Oil, More Good Oil, and then Smothered in Oil. So when I got to speak with Phil Robertson from Team CHN in the SailGP, well one of those two oils seemed the only way to go. Posted on 8 Sep
YJA MS Amlin Awards shortlists chosen
For the YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year & YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year 2019 The YJA Committee met on Monday evening on the 45th floor of the Leadenhall building in London, hosted by MS Amlin Boat Insurance, to choose the shortlists for the YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year and the YJA MS Amlin Young Sailor of the Year 2019. Posted on 3 Sep
All aboard the bandwagon!
If I had a mini maxi, I reckon that is exactly what I would have to call it If I had a mini maxi, I reckon that is exactly what I would have to call it. Just because you'd get a cast of thousands on board, and subsequently have a grand old time. Now if I had a supermaxi, I think its name would have to be Gravy Train... Posted on 1 Sep
And they're up!
Back in Where's Wally? we looked at the incredible new foiler, the SYRA18. Back in Where's Wally? we looked at the incredible new foiler, the SYRA18. Please go back and check that out if you cannot remember it. Since then, Nils Frei and Yves Detrey have had their prototype for the monohull that morphs into a cat out on the water Posted on 25 Aug
2019 King's Cup Regatta
By Royal Appointment - Dan Snow races Fast 40s The Royal Standard hung lazily from the flagpole above the Royal Yacht Squadron. Team Windsor were back in Cowes. On 8 August eight Fast 40 boats competed in the King's Cup Regatta. Posted on 13 Aug
We speak to Vaikobi founder Pat Langley
Maintain his cool while growing a global business We spoke to Pat Langley of Vaikobi, the performance clothing company which started off by designing and manufacturing kit for the ocean paddle sport market, more recently branching into sailing apparel. Posted on 13 Aug
Well I'll be…
You had to think the Laser was going to have more than an uphill battle to be in the 2024 Games When their infighting took hold, you had to think the Laser was going to have more than an uphill battle to be in the Paris 2024 Games. In what is clearly good news for Australia, the equipment is set to remain... Posted on 11 Aug