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SailGP makes an impact with purpose-driven projects in Bermuda

by SailGP 15 May 15:47 BST
SailGP powered by Nature © SailGP

With the high-speed pace being set by the annual, global championship's Season 2 opening event in Bermuda, SailGP's purpose-driven mantle to Race for the Future as an international leader in sustainable sport and entertainment wasted no time making its mark - setting the stage for subsequent events - pushing forward to achieve its goal of being 100% powered by nature by 2025.

Beyond the thrill of a foiling F50 catamaran flying across the water's surface, exists SailGP's commitment to the meaningful value of its activities and initiatives, positively impacting each of its event's communities, both on and off the water. From awareness campaigns discussing the transition to clean energy, to exploring the sailing talents of local youth; from engaging SailGP teams with local sailing clubs, to showcasing how SailGP contributes beyond its carbon footprint as it travels the globe, these are just a few of the important components that when combined, show how the power of sport can be used for good.

SailGP has a goal to become the world's most sustainable and purpose-driven global sport, breaking boundaries and inspiring change not just in sailing but in the wider sports community and beyond. Every initiative delivered in Bermuda contributed towards making this possible. SailGP is the first sports organization to achieve both the Carbon Neutral International Standard and participation in the UN's Climate Neutral Now initiative.

SailGP director of purpose and impact, Fiona Morgan said: "Every project SailGP supports - in our racing, our technology and our partnerships - delivers impact. Race for the Future is using our platform as a climate positive sport to accelerate change in everything we do, including at our host cities, and to create a meaningful impact beyond our footprint, starting with the people living in coastal communities everywhere we race. For SailGP, the ocean is our race track, it's in our DNA and it's our reason for being and we have a duty to use our platform to deliver change, inspire people and break boundaries. Every project delivered on the ground in Bermuda takes us a step closer to this goal."

The Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess marked the opening event of the second season for the sport's pinnacle league, and saw teams and the event operations innovating with new technology and establishing new partnerships with the sole purpose of delivering against its goal of racing for a better future.

Projects on the ground at the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess saw the delivery of:

  • 295 local youth taking part in a variety of Inspire programs across its three pillars - Learning, Careers and Racing - laying the foundations for knowledge and skills development, contributing to building a better sport
  • The preservation of 480m2 of seagrass beds through blue carbon sequestration projects, revitalizing shorelines with the aim to create a better planet
  • The adoption of eight clean energy, zero emissions ePropulsion engines used to equip the fleet of support boats during two days of racing - eliminating the need for fossil fuelled engines and starting the transition to a support boat fleet 100% powered by nature by 2025
  • Four purpose-enhancing Race For The Future SailGP team partnerships established New efficiencies in global sports event logistics with more than 50 tonnes of container weight reduction

SailGP Inspire Program

Restarting the Inspire Program - SailGP's youth and community engagement program - after a 14 month hiatus was a highlight for both SailGP and the Island's residents. Involving Bermuda's youth through community engagement initiatives by creating an accessible environment to host a tangible series of grassroots activities allowed participants to experience a social transformation in and around the sport of sailing.

  • 77 Bermudian pupils from local schools took part in a virtual STEAM Learning program hosted by SailGP Inspire in partnership with Endeavour
  • 12 students with an interest in engineering were hosted as part of a virtual sustainability tour of the SailGP technical area in partnership with the Bermuda Government's Department of Energy
  • 24 young people engaged in on-line careers training on photography, video production, boat building and rigging
  • High-performance WASZP foiling training boat donated as part of a SailGP x Endeavour joint fundraiser with 27 youth sailors given the opportunity to trial the dinghy as part of an initiative
  • 120 youth sailors receiving virtual webinars from the eight national SailGP teams through SailGP's adopt-a-club program

Seagrass Preservation Project

Just like coastal communities all over the world, preserving the health and wellbeing of the ocean is a key concern of the league. Bermuda is famed for its stunning ecosystem and boasts a marine environment filled with coral reefs, mangroves, algal beds and seagrass meadows.

Great Britain SailGP Team trialist and Olympic Gold medalist Hannah Mills MBE, was inspired by a local project championed by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and took time out to volunteer for ClimateWise by placing seagrass cages around under-siege areas of the surrounding seabed.

Mills said: "SailGP is breaking boundaries in sustainable sport and it's incredibly important that as athletes we use our platforms and voices to raise awareness. It meant a lot to the Great Britain SailGP Team to work with SailGP in its support of the ClimateWise seagrass restoration project in Bermuda. Hosting the opening event of SailGP Season 2 offered a vital opportunity to draw attention to the issues faced. As well as doing our part for the local community by helping protect the seagrass, I also got to see a wild sea turtle in its natural habitat which was amazing and thanks to ClimateWise something I hope we can all experience for the generations to come."

Regenerating seagrass beds are not only a vital ecological resource for Bermuda's famous sea turtle population, they are an essential tool in combating climate change thanks to their highly effective carbon sequestration power. Seagrass can decrease carbon in the atmosphere by removing carbon dioxide from seawater and converting it to stored, inactive, organic carbon. A byproduct of this process is oxygen, critical to most marine organisms for survival.

Bermuda Government Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Senior Marine Conservation Officer, Sarah Manuel, PhD, said: "Seagrass meadows are crucial to the health of our coral reef ecosystem. This precious habitat provides food for green turtles and it is home to a diverse range of organisms. Bermuda's inshore seagrass meadows have been impacted by numerous factors over the years, but more recently green turtle grazing has put unprecedented pressure on these habitats, leading to their local collapse. The plants struggle to recover from the intensive grazing by the increasing number of juvenile green turtles. Our offshore seagrass meadows, far from human impacts, were the first to disappear. We're really grateful for the support from SailGP to bring attention to our efforts."

Powered by Nature

While SailGP's supercharged F50 catamaran's are powered by nature - using the wind and solar charged batteries for the electronic and hydraulic systems onboard - it's on-water support fleet, that is essential to the safety and management of the racing, relies currently on fossil fuels.

With an ambitious target of being 100% powered by nature on-water by 2025, Bermuda saw the first transition of technology to fossil fuel alternatives, with the introduction of new technology from ePropulsion - an innovative technology company taking the marine industry by storm and looking to revolutionize the industry as a whole.

In Bermuda, all eight teams were supported with the use of boat tenders powered by zero emissions ePropulsion electric motors to help manoeuver the F50's to and from the racetrack. By removing the use of fossil fuelled engines, the result was a reduction of 450kg of CO2 emissions. This is the first step in SailGP's on-water carbon reduction plan and is set to increase as the season progresses with more alternatively fuelled propulsion solutions being introduced throughout the season.

Race For The Future team partnerships

Well under way is the growing partnerships between SailGP's teams and purposeful organizations that fit within the league's Race For The Future ethos. During the inaugural event in Bermuda, four of the teams announced new partnerships, demonstrating the commitment to race for a greater purpose while raising the profile of its partner organisation.

  • France SailGP Team x Energy Observer Foundation // showcasing french innovation and new thinking for a better planet
  • Great Britain SailGP Team x STEM Crew // using the power of sport and education for good creating the engineers and innovators of the future
  • Spain SailGP Team x Wave of Change // youth ambassadors for a responsible footprint
  • New Zealand SailGP Team x Live Ocean // racing for a live ocean

Setting the standard in global sports event logistics

SailGP is committed to measuring, reducing and contributing beyond its championship footprint with a target of 55 per cent reduction based on science by 2025. Innovative event logistics and business operations are being deployed to help achieve this.

For Bermuda, SailGP reduced its overall container numbers by six 40ft containers - despite adding an additional team to its roster - through optimizing its pack up and the removal of unnecessary equipment. The weight saving in containers alone is the equivalent of shipping four London buses around the world. SailGP is working closely with its official logistics partner Kuehne+Nagel to further minimize the carbon footprint of the championship's transport through advice on the most efficient routes plus offsetting the league's remaining transport emissions.

In addition, by sourcing all handling equipment locally, SailGP provided opportunities for local businesses as well as cutting down it's overall shipping weight.

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