The 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 sailors assembled again ahead of the 2019 Volvo European Championship to spend some time cleaning up a local beach to the club we were at. Joined by our partners for the Europeans, the RYA and Volvo Car UK, our partners in sustainability Parley.tv and The Final Straw Solent, we got a chance to give back to the region we’re visiting and bond over taking care of the environment.
Chesil Beach is a unique ecosystem, with an estimated 180 billion fist-size pebbles over 18 miles protecting the Dorset coast from the open Atlantic Ocean, it’s unlike any other beach. A brief lecture from the Chesil Beach center let us know the unique birds and pond life we might be helping. A lecture from The Final Straw showed us alternative products that are available to reduce use of plastic, like bamboo tooth brushes and even tooth paste that comes in a bar instead of a plastic tube. We then set out to collect all the rubbish we could in the blustery but sunny conditions.
As the class manager of 49er and Nacra 17 sailing, I am concerned about the environment, so was thrilled when Yago Lange (ARG) approached me with the initiative to start giving back ahead of all our events. He’s been the driving force behind the #Sailors4theSea movement, which is catching on quickly. I have to admit though, that I was a little bit cynical about whether we could make an impact, and it felt a little bit like if plastic is taken from a beach, but it wasn’t caught on Instagram, did it really happen?
Both in Palma and now in Weymouth, along with my fellow sailors, I headed out to lend a hand, and somewhat surprisingly, I’m hooked on the concept. Not only is there rubbish everywhere once you start looking for it, but it’s an extra hour to spend on a beach, which is always a good thing. It’s a chance to chat with friends in a relaxed but purposeful way. It’s a way to explore new areas, and look in detail at exactly where I’m standing. I really recommend trying it, as it’s almost therapeutic. No phones, no complexity, just walking and cleaning with the waves crashing and sun shining.
I know it’s not just me either. This is a voluntary initiative of the class, nobody is taking attendance or taking names. But as I looked around at World Champions, medalists, and newcomers all joining in together, it’s easy to see the fleet really cares about this. Earlier this week the 470 class and the Finn class also did their own beach cleans ahead of their Euros.
As a group we managed to collect a fair load of rubbish, which is both satisfying and frightening at the same time. There simply is so much to pick up, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, so we’ll continue these beach cleans and continue to encourage you all to join in when we’re in your neighborhood, and maybe some of you will take a walk down your local beach or car park to do the same.
Thanks to the RYA for using this beach clean to kick off their own sustainability programs. Thanks to Volvo for pledging to use 25% recycled plastic in their cars by 2025, which is very soon by automotive standards. Thanks to all the NGO’s out there fighting to protect our oceans from the plastic menace we’ve created. Parley help focus us on AIR – Avoid – Intercept – Redesign. We managed to do a little bit on all three fronts, and every little bit helps. #Sailors4theSea.
– Ben Remocker