This last month has been unbelievably busy for the team with our home event in Plymouth and then heading straight out to Copenhagen, Denmark for the fourth event of SailGP Season 3. With so many incredible opportunities to make climate positive impact, share knowledge and raise awareness, we wanted to highlight some of the recent highlights which we’ve loved being a part of!
Starting off with a bang, was the incredible visit from HRH The Duchess of Cambridge in Plymouth. The Duchess has been a supporter of our Race for the Future partner, 1851 Trust since its launch in 2014, so it was brilliant to showcase what we’ve been up to recently with 1851 Trust’s Protect our Future digital platform. Her Royal Highness joined 20 young people inside our SailGP GBR team base to take part in a seagrass planting ‘live lesson’ activity, which was supported by the Ocean Conservation Trust and highlighted their project to regenerate seagrass meadows in Plymouth.
The Duchess is also a big sailing fan and a very talented sailor herself. We had the pleasure of hosting Her Royal Highness onboard our F50 race boat, with the training time culminating in a ‘Commonwealth Race’ between GBR and NZL who had guest driver Lewis Pugh, United Nations Patron of the Oceans on board. Safe to say with The Duchess taking the helm for much of the race, Great Britain came away with the victory!
Another highlight from our time in Plymouth was attending the Plympton Academy School. We shared with the children what SailGP was up to in Plymouth when it comes to impact and legacy, alongside delivering our Protect Our Future seagrass lesson. It was huge fun and we got to make our own replica sea grass bombs, demonstrating the best way to plant seagrass in the local environment, in our case we used wildflower seeds instead and planted them on the school grounds.
Another key area we look at during each SailGP event is how we can reduce our impact whilst on site, and there’s been a lot going on. It was great to get our solar chase boat project up and running at the Plymouth event, I spoke about this in the last blog so it was great to see it successfully working. We now don’t have to run our engine in idol on the dock to charge any of the on-board radios, screens and other electronics, it’s all done with clean energy via solar panels!
We are also pushing ahead with transitioning our operations containers to be solar powered, in a project code-named ‘Green Container’. We run things like the fridge and coffee machine in the operations container, but it also acts as the working area for our comms, performance and logistics team members where they need to use laptops and other electronics. To take this container ‘off grid’ the GBR shoreteam repurposed our old F50 race boat PV cell batteries by installing them to power the container, whilst charging using clean energy via solar panels. The charging system takes the PV cell's energy and charges the batteries during the day then inverts that power to 220-volt AC overnight. We are still in the testing phase of this, but hopefully we will be fully off the grid in St Tropez and Cadiz.
Onwards to one of the other parts of SailGP that I love, The Women’s Pathway programme! Since its inception at the start of Season 2, there has been great progression with getting more women involved in SailGP. Ben (Ainslie) and I felt passionately about the opportunity to build on what SailGP have started within British sailing and so recently launched the Athena Pathway programme. The mission is to build gender equity and provide more opportunity and pathways for youth sailors within the British sailing industry, both on and off the water. We encourage all British youth and female sailors, as well as those interested in a career within the sailing industry, to head to the website to register interest in getting involved: athenapathway.com
The final thing I wanted to highlight was the incredible opportunities we have as athletes to use our voice to highlight things that are important to us. We recently hosted BBC Sport, BBC Click and Sky FYI talking about our various sustainable tech and innovation projects within the GBR Team and SailGP. We hope this coverage has inspired others to think about actions they can take to do things differently and become more sustainable. We also hope it normalises these conversations, inspires the next generation and pushes other sports teams, and businesses to accelerate the changes we need to protect our future for the next generations.
Until next time.