- Written exclusively for SailGP.com by Great Britain SailGP Team shore crew member Henry Woodhouse
The Great Britain SailGP Team are committed to making positive change towards a more sustainable future. Every team member is constantly looking at their role and working practices to see how they can be improved to reduce our impact on the environment. Our motto is ‘small change, big impact’ which means that even the tiniest detail of how we use a product, material or a working process adjustment can end up making a substantial difference on our overall footprint.
I was sitting at home after the first event of Season 2 thinking how I could make a positive difference within my role. One area that really started to bug me was our use of single use cable ties for our spare air on the F50 yachts. One of the most important pieces of equipment on a SailGP F50 is the spare air kit. There are four of these on the boat. They are the secondary spare air to what the sailors have on them personally. If things go really wrong, the sailors can grab and pull the kit to have a second spare air in case of emergency, which can give them those crucial few more moments they may need to escape.
To date, these spare air kits have been attached to all the SailGP F50s by single use cable ties. A relatively simple and easy solution, but one that, for us at the Great Britain SailGP Team, has jarred with our sustainability commitments. The amount of single-use plastic cable ties we had to go through at every event quickly added up. We calculated we'd use over 2-3,000 across the whole season.
I sat down with Harry Mcgougan from the French SailGP Team and set about coming up with a fix that both makes it a bit easier and safer for the sailors to grab the spare air, but also kept the number of waste plastics to a minimum. After several events of trial and error we are now at a place where we believe we have a solution that meets all requirements. We have developed a 3D printed clip using recycled materials that we fix onto the yacht, and the spare air clips in easily. We have done sea trials to ensure it is strong enough to withstand any big pressures and to ensure the sailors can always access it easy.
The final trials took place in Cadiz and received the full sign off from Brad Marsh who heads up the SailGP Tech Team. What’s even better is Brad has has now implemented the solution across all the F50 yachts in the SailGP circuit, making a significant impact by reducing the use of single-use plastics across the fleet.
It may only seem like a small change, but it is a great example of how SailGP are encouraging innovation and new ideas across the fleet to note only make these brilliant F50 yachts faster and more efficient, but also more sustainable.