The “Race for Water Odyssey” (R4WO) has cut to the chase by dropping anchor in Bordeaux, the expedition’s departure city. Initiated by the “Race for Water” Foundation, the R4WO aims to draw up the first global assessment of plastic pollution in oceans. In 300 days, over 40,000 nautical miles will be travelled, punctuated by 11 scientific stopovers and 9 outreach stopovers, involving a total of 13 countries.
This morning, the “MOD70 Race for Water” arrived in Bordeaux with great fanfare for an eventful week. On Sunday, March 15, the crew will raise anchor with the intention of gaining knowledge about waste gyres in less than one year. Even though they constitute a major environmental disaster, these immense pollution zones in oceans are in fact still relatively unknown. The goal of this scientific sailing expedition is to draw up an initial global assessment.
Scientific as well as human, the R4WO also aims to raise awareness about marine pollution—a vital exploit, considering that an estimated 80% of the trash polluting the oceans comes from human activities. The initiative begins today; numerous events have been organized in collaboration with Bordeaux authorities and the Maison Ecocitoyenne (i.e. Eco-Citizen House), which will follow the adventure throughout the year.
A team eager to cast off
After several weeks of technical preparations in Lorient (France), the crew headed from Brittany to Bordeaux. The six-member onboard team will be headed by Marco Simeoni, founder of the “Race for Water” Foundation and leader of the expedition. Following an illustrious career in telecommunications, this ocean enthusiast decided to devote himself to water preservation. He emphasizes the importance of taking action, and is optimistic:
“Marine plastic pollution is alarming and we must quickly find sustainable collection and valorization solutions. To devise solutions, we must fully understand the problem. I am confident that when we return from this expedition, we will have genuine leads for developing solutions that will preserve our oceans. But drawing up the assessment won’t be the end of our mission; the assessment is merely the first phase of a project that will take several years.”
For his part, Stève Ravussin, famous Swiss navigator and skipp
er of this expedition, can’t wait to put his seafaring skills to use, and insists that the situation is urgent:
“The sea has given me so much; it enabled me to make a name for myself. The time has come for me to return the favor by showing the extent to which the sea is suffering from our actions. We come across countless diverse objects on the high seas. In 2012 during the Krys Ocean Race with this same catamaran, my path was obstructed by a drifting container, so I know what I am talking about. It is important to make this known, and I look forward to starting the R4WO to move things forward. Our training sessions in Lorient went well, and the entire team is ready to tackle the trip around the world.”
Bordeaux, a very eventful first stop
During the opening stopover in Aquitaine, “Race for Water” invited the public to a number of activities that were organized in collaboration with the City of Bordeaux and the Maison Ecocitoyenne. Mr. Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux, insisted on conveying his support for the R4WO:
“[Marine plastic] pollution affects every region of the world and has long-lasting consequences on marine ecosystems. Action must be taken immediately, and that is why I insisted on supporting the ‘Race for Water Odyssey’, an ambitious expedition that intends to map out and measure the five marine pollution patches across the globe. (…) I am extending my full support to the team of explorers and scientists who are committed to this noble project, vital for the future of the planet.”
The festivities begin today with the docking of the “MOD70 Race for Water” at the Richelieu Quay landing, and the inauguration of the departure village. Also on the agenda: events organized with Bordeaux schools on Thursday, March 12, and an afternoon dedicated to children on Friday, March 13. The departure village, set up in front of the Maison Ecocitoyenne, and the landing will be open to the public until Sunday.
The highlight of this stopover, the departure of the “MOD70 Race for Water”, will take place on Sunday, March 15 at approximately 3 pm. The trimaran and her crew will then set sail for Azores (Portugal), the first of the R4WO’s eleven scientific stopovers, where the scientific protocol will be deployed for the first time. Before returning to Bordeaux in mid-December 2015, the crew will sail for 300 days in order to draw up an in
itial global pollution assessment of the “world’s biggest trash can”.
Click here to follow the R4WO’s progress live !
Click here for more information about the program in Bordeaux !
About the Race for Water Foundation
Founded in Lausanne in 2010, the “Race for Water” Foundation is dedicated to preserve our planet’s most valuable resource: water. The foundation is an officially recognized non-profit organization seeking to implement concrete and sustainable actions, focusing on two main themes: protecting oceans and freshwater. “Race for Water” initiates projects aimed at raising awareness and taking concrete action on the ground. These actions are directed at four target audiences: economic players, political bodies, the scientific community, and the general public—with particular emphasis on future generations. “Race for Water” collaborates with organizations such as UNESCO, UNEP, IUCN, WWF, and WBCSD.
In addition, the Race for Water Odyssey benefits from the support of ISAF, Duke University, Oregon State University, senseFly, Swisscom and Swissnex.
For more information : yachtboatnews.com/race-for-water-odyssey