ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team and One Ocean Foundation have launched Race to Restore – a global climate action initiative, giving all 10 SailGP teams the opportunity to fight back against the impacts of climate change, whilst racing the F50 at speeds close to 100km/hr.

In collaboration with the Community Eelgrass Restoration Initiative (CERI) and Dalhousie University, the project will mark the undertaking of a 300 square-metre seagrass replanting mission near Halifax, Nova Scotia – the site of the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix, which will take place on 1-2 June 2024.

Season 4 // ROCKWOOL Denmark sustainability initiative // Eelgrass and island at Owls Head Credit: Nic Winkler

As part of the project, each SailGP team can win impact based on their performance in the remaining events of Season 4, with Canada SailGP Team taking the victory in the initiative’s first Sail Grand Prix in New Zealand.

“As Impact League champions, we know we have a responsibility to stand up and lead when it comes to ocean health – and we’re delighted to partner with ROCKWOOL, One Ocean Foundation and CERI to undertake this exciting project which I know will inspire the world-class athletes in SailGP,” says ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team driver Nicolai Sehested.

Season 4 // ROCKWOOL Denmark sustainability initiative // Eelgrass meadow Owls Head Credit: NicWinkler

Forming part of One Ocean Foundation’s Ocean Foresting campaign, designed to put a renewed focus on marine restoration, the initiative will see thousands of eelgrass plants repopulate the local “blue carbon ecosystem”, playing an important role as a natural carbon sink to capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Mirella Vitale, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs at ROCKWOOL, adds: “Since 2022, we’ve been working closely with One Ocean Foundation to further awareness around the important role of our ocean in the fight against climate change, and this new initiative marks our title partnerships of the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix by giving all SailGP teams a chance to create impact whilst doing what they do best – racing the F50, fast.”

Season 4 // ROCKWOOL Denmark sustainability initiative // Eelgrass meadow research site Rose Bay Credit: NicWinkler

Racing for impact

Starting in Christchurch, New Zealand on 23-24 March, the Race to Restore climate action initiative incentivises the SailGP fleet by awarding ‘impact points’ based on their results and top speed in the remaining events of Season 4. With 55 total fleet points available in each SailGP event, teams can win 1 square metre of impact for every point they accumulate between now and the SailGP grand final in San Francisco on 13-14 July.

There will also be an extra five bonus points per event for the team which records the fastest speed of each Sail Grand Prix – a nod to ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team and One Ocean Foundation’s successful More Speed, Less Plastic initiative from Season 3, which saw over 10 tonnes of ocean-bound plastic diverted from coastal areas around the global SailGP circuit.

The scheme means that there are a total of 300 points up for grabs for the fleet, with the best performing SailGP team between now and the end of the season able to grab up to 75 of those – a potential impact of 75 square metres of seagrass re-planted in Nova Scotia.

In Christchurch, Canada SailGP Team scored a third placed finish (8 points) plus recorded 86.8 km/hr, the top speed of the event (5 points), earning them 13 square metres of impact to kick off the initiative.

“The ocean is essential for all our lives – especially sailors have a deep understanding of this. The Race to Restore project presents a great opportunity for collaboration between scientists and renowned international athletes to raise awareness of a powerful, yet also fragile marine ecosystem such as eelgrass,” says Dr Kristina Boerder, Future of Marine Ecosystem lab at Dalhousie University & CERI.

A tangible impact

The ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix in June will see the world’s most exciting racing on water visit Canada for the first time. To mark the event in Halifax, ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team, Canada SailGP Team and One Ocean Foundation will collaborate to host a series of youth-focused purpose activity – including workshops and ocean science sessions.

“One Ocean Foundation is pleased to welcome ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team and the other competing teams in SailGP to participate in our ambitious Ocean Foresting campaign,” says Giulio Magni, Operations Director at One Ocean Foundation.

“The ocean is our biggest ally in the fight against climate change, and studies have shown that seagrass can absorb up to 2.7kg of carbon dioxide per m 2 in the very first sediment layer per year, meaning that the SailGP Race to Restore project alone could potentially remove more than 800kg of CO 2 from the atmosphere.”

He adds: “The Ocean Foresting initiative aims to internationally promote the importance of safeguarding extraordinary seagrass ecosystems by networking with global leaders, universities, research centres, institutions and local communities worldwide to launch numerous local reforestation activities.”

Eelgrass, a species of seagrass which grows in the ocean in dense, swaying meadows, is found in bays estuaries and along beaches across North America – and is a native plant to Nova Scotia.

One of the few flowering plants that can live underwater, including a rootsystem, leaves, flowers and seeds, it provides numerous ecosystem benefits to humankind. Eelgrass forms underwater meadows which capture carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, protects the coast from erosion and create biodiversity hotspots providing shelter, food and nursery grounds for many marine species.

Race To Restore – Current Leaderboard after 1/5 events

1) Canada SailGP Team – 13 points
2) New Zealand SailGP Team – 10 points
3) France SailGP Team – 9 points
4) Spain SailGP Team – 7 points
5) Germany SailGP Team – 6 points
6) Switzerland SailGP Team – 5 points
7) Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team – 4 points
8) United States SailGP Team – 3 points
9) ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team – 2 points
10) Australia SailGP Team – 1 point