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2 November 2017

Sustainability will be at the heart of this year’s Volvo Ocean Race

The international Volvo Ocean Race has put sustainability and oceans health into its core values this year, and the Vestas 11th Hour Racing Team is leading the way across the participant teams.

The gruelling 45,000 nautical mile race passes through 12 host cities around the globe, including Cape Town, Hong Kong, and Melbourne.

Vestas’ Team Director Mark Towill and skipper Charlie Enright assigned a sustainability consultant to measure the environmental impact the team had during their previous participation in the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race with Team Alvimedica.

This research formed the base of the sustainability recommendations that Vestas adopted this year, covering all aspects of the team’s operations.

The sustainability measures include:

  • Calculate the carbon footprint of the whole race, tracking all travel, accommodation, electricity usage, water consumption and waste, and offset it at the end of the race.
  • Provide each team member with a sustainability kit that encloses a refillable water bottle including a personal water filter, a reusable coffee mug, bamboo toothbrushes, and organic soap, shampoo, toothpaste and laundry detergent.
  • Reduce the use of single-use plastics and straws.
  • Set up coastal restoration actions removing trash from the beaches.
  • Use desalination technologies for on-board needs, saving an estimated 13,500 one-litre water bottles throughout the race.
  • Achieve 75 percent waste diversion rates.
  • Source locally grown sustainable food in countries they visit.
  • Establish Meat Free Mondays both onshore and offshore.
  • Raise awareness of the team’s sustainability values.

In addition, the team has set up the Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Exploration Zone: a dedicated educational space where the public learns about renewable energy and ocean health through the prism of wind and water as sailing’s most crucial elements.

Wendy Schmidt, Co-founder of 11th Hour Racing said that the oceans are “under attack”.

She added: “11th Hour Racing has been working since 2011 to engage sailors and the maritime industries to become advocates for a healthy ocean”.

Before the launch of the race, the team met with local students and the local environmental organisation Asociación De Naturalistas Del Sureste (ANSE), where the latter exhibited its wooden sailing vessel, Else, that is equipped to monitor and protect endangered species, study pollution effects on plants and animals, and implement coastal restoration projects.

The Volvo Ocean Race will also host 7 Ocean Summits in cities around the world.

The first one took place in Alicante, where the race began two weeks ago.

During the Summit, Raquel Orts Nebot, Spain's Director General for Coast and Sea Sustainability said: “Over the past six years we have been developing Spain's new Marine Strategy, and one of its main goals is to tackle marine litter”.

“In this regard, I confirm that Spain is joining the UN Clean Seas Campaign, with the firm purpose of supporting this global initiative and contributing to its impact worldwide”.

Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment commented: “Spain's engagement in this campaign sends an important message across the Mediterranean region and the world. Our oceans are fundamental to our survival that we must do everything we can to protect them”.

During the Summit, Volvo Ocean Race announced the launch of a unique programme called “Science Programme”.

Through this initiative, boats will gather meteorological data for more accurate weather forecasts and climate models.

Selected boats will carry instruments to calculate, among other, amounts of dissolved CO2 and amounts of micro-plastic in the ocean.

Gabriel Echávarri, the Mayor of Alicante also announced an educational campaign on plastic in all schools in the city.

The 18th Volvo Ocean Race kicked off in Alicante on 22 October and will end in Hague in July 2018.

To find out more about Volvo’s Ocean Race sustainability approach, click here

 To learn more about the host cities on the race, and current scores click here

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