Australia has made its mark on Season 4’s supercharged Impact League, winning the podium for the planet’s first major focus area - the Race to Zero Waste.

The first of the four key areas challenged teams to create wasted reducing solutions, drive circularity and eliminate single-use plastics, and was judged by an expert panel of judges.

The panel, which included National Geographic Young Explorer Sharona Shnayder, wildlife scientist Dr Vanessa Pirotta and A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland, was looking for redesigned products, the incorporation of more sustainable materials and sustainable manufacture processes. The goal was to reduce waste within SailGP operations.

Australia impressed judges with its submission - an innovative solution to reduce single use plastics from emergency on-water repairs. Current on-water repairs require the use of sticky backed plastic, duct tape and cling film to repair clysar fairings after damage on the water.

Season 4 // Previous fairing repair with single use plastic on board Australia F50

Australia developed an alternative front fairing which completely will eliminate the need for disposal materials from emergency fairing repairs. The solution was created in collaboration with the Tech Team and tested for the first time in Chicago. The idea is to roll out the solution league-wide by the end of the season - a plan supported by the Tech Team.

The Aussies were awarded a total of 100 points for the innovation to claim first place, with Switzerland and Emirates Great Britain following in second and third.

All three teams will be awarded prize money donated to their Race For The Future partners, and Australia will be awarded a Golden Crane Ticket - an on-water advantage that will allow the team to adjust their crane slot assignment to suit their schedule and ultimately allow for more time on the water to train.

Season 4 // Australia Race to Zero Waste Fairing Innovation

Australia’s triumph means the team is top of both the Impact League and on-water racing Season 4 Championship.

Speaking about the win, Australia driver Tom Slingsby said the team ‘recognized a significant environmental issue on the water’. “We took proactive steps and developed an innovative reusable design to replace single-use plastics on the F50s,” he said.

“It's about setting an example for the entire sailing community and the fans. We're not only striving to be the fastest on the water but also the greenest and want to continue to show our commitment to environmental responsibility.”

Season 4 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Tom Slingsby in mixed zone

Judge Sharona Shnayder commended the team for treating sustainability as ‘a strategy’, as well as a ‘winning goal’.

“Instead of relying on traditional, unsustainable repair materials that contribute to plastic waste, they introduced a low impact, reusable and durable replacement. One that directly addressed their pain points, spliced in creative storytelling while being simply practical,” she said.

SailGP's Sustainability and Impact Project Manager, Rosie Gosling, added: "We made some significant changes to the scoring of the Impact League for this season to really focus and encourage projects with more impact. It's really exciting to see this coming to life with our first focus area results looking at some really innovative ideas from our teams, and judged by a panel of experts."

Season 4 // Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix // Australia in Los Angeles practice

Elsewhere, Switzerland impressed judges with its idea - the creation of a cleaning station which will reduce and reuse the water used for post-racing F50 wash downs. Emirates GBR meanwhile was commended for its educational program created in collaboration with the 1851 Trust, which aims to bring the Impact League into UK schools.

Race to Zero Waste is the first of four key areas launched in Season 4’s supercharged Impact League. These focus areas account for 60% of the season points and are scored four times per season by a panel of industry experts. The teams will also be scored on the implementation and impact of their ideas later in the season.

For further information on the Impact League, to see the team standings and the full list of our expert judges, please click HERE.