In May 2018 NAMEPA attended the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), an international sailing race which serves as a platform for uniting cultures, spreading awareness of ocean health, and celebrating the sport of competitive sailing. This year, the fleet stopped in Newport, Rhode Island, which served as the only North American stopover for the entire race. The VOR is a testament to the sheer strength, courage, and teamwork of the sailors as they race through the most remote and dangerous areas of the sea.
The Volvo Ocean Race used to be known as the Whitbread Round the World Ocean Race, with the first race taking off in 1973 with 19 teams from seven countries. The race started in Portsmouth, United Kingdom and stopped in Cape Town, Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro. This year the Race consists of 7 teams with 11 legs of the race stopping in 11 different ports. The race started on October 11, 2017 in Alicante, Spain with the second destination of Lisbon, then continuing on to Cape Town, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Auckland, Itajai, Newport, Cardiff, and Gothenburg. The last stop is The Hague, Netherlands. The 2017-2018 race will cover 45,000 nautical miles, the longest distance in VOR history.
NAMEPA was honored to take part in the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race by exhibiting in the race village’s One Ocean Exploration Zone. An area where non-profits, academic institutions, and others presented interactive activities to teach students of all ages about the problems of marine debris and how to improve ocean health. NAMEPA’s booth inspired future ocean engineers by challenging visitors to build machines to remove trash from the ocean, while tackling the fact that trash “behaves” differently. Litter floats, sinks, blows in the wind, wraps up animals, is small, and is large. They were tasked with the questions: Is it possible to create a machine to remove all types of debris? What materials would you use? How much would it cost? How would it run? Now that we are learning so much about marine debris and how we can each do our part in reducing waste, a next step is to implement a way of removing trash at the source.
An impressive aspect of the Volvo Ocean Race is the dedication to the advancement of marine science. The team “Turn the Tide on Plastic” is working to research plastics in the ocean, while spreading awareness of the UN-Environment’s Clean Seas pledge. Dee Caffari, leader of the team, presented data at the Volvo Ocean Summit which showed concentrations of microplastics, even in the most remote areas of the sea, collected during on-board sampling. This race allows team members to venture to places that scientists have not yet reached, and with a large amount of supporters following the Race on a global scale, the VOR becomes the perfect platform for educating on marine debris and mobilizing a generation of ocean stewards.
This installment of the Volvo Ocean Race is making strides in sustainability. Each stopover port is refusing the sale of single-use plastic bottles, and instead encouraging race village visitors to bring their own reusable bottle which can be filled at various filtered water stations or stations that purify salt water for consumption. Additionally, all stopover ports are equipped with compostable and recyclable food and beverage containers, as well as recycling and composting receptacles.
To learn more about the Volvo Ocean Race and to track the concluding legs of the race, click here.