Harken Derm

Is it Time for a Ban on Bow Stickers?

Published on August 1st, 2018

If you’ve ever raced in a NOOD regatta or other sponsored event, someone on your team was likely tasked with applying the bow sticker which provided exposure for the organizers and supporters. Awkwardly applying a large decal is no simple task, and if the hull is polished, not always a successful one either.

If the sticker endures the regatta, it is wisely peeled off at the end and tossed in the trash, but there is a less favorable result if the ocean peels it off. Either way, is the sponsor sticker consistent with the current theme of environmental awareness? No, says Martin Byrne, and he share this view with Afloat Magazine:


This was the subject of some discussion aboard our Dragon at the recent Volvo Cork Week. We had a UK Dragon sailor with us who also happens to be the organizer of the British Dragon Association East Coast Championships later this season. As I asked him to apply our regulation Volvo bow stickers prior to racing, he was somewhat reluctant but worked away nonetheless.

But as we were sailing to the race course, he pointed out that the pre-event notices and overwhelming message from the Cork Week organizers were supportive of the generic message that is “Turn the Tide on Plastic”.

This was demonstrated practically by their very obvious “hydration stations” around the Cork Week village where sailors could refill their water containers during the day and especially before going sailing, and also their decision not to print and distribute paper SIs. This was a clear and laudable message for which they should be applauded.

Nevertheless, it was clear that many of the plastic bow stickers applied to the yachts that started Cork Week several days ahead of the Dragon fleet were already lost into Cork Harbour and the surrounding waters. And indeed as it transpired most of those applied to the Dragons were lost in the same way after just day one.

Surely World Sailing or indeed even our own Irish Sailing should now consider a ban on these bow stickers for obvious reasons. There are other more sustainable ways for our very valuable sponsors to get their logo displayed at the event sites. Indeed logos can even be photoshopped on to event photos of the yachts sailing as required for publicity purposes.

I would be interested to hear other views: click here.

Editor’s note: Martin Byrne is a Dragon Edinburgh Cup Winner and former Commodore of the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

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