On a mission to set an example

Published on August 9th, 2018

When Vestas 11th Hour Racing set off to compete in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, they also set off on a mission to be the most sustainable team to ever compete in the event. However, the team repeatedly incurred adversity that likely grew their footprint well beyond the other six teams in the race.

A collision with a fishing boat, which sunk the other boat and required additional parts and shipments to repair their Volvo Ocean 65, was significant. A dismasting later in the race required the rig and sails to be released into the ocean as garbage.

But the team said it accomplished its goal in the face of this hardship. How? Here were some of their key sustainability accomplishments:

• The team calculated and offset their carbon footprint of 1218 tonnes of CO2 emitted. The offset will be carried out through Seagrass Grow, a program of the Ocean Foundation. It is estimated that seagrass is up to 35x more effective than Amazonian rainforests in their carbon uptake and storage abilities. Vestas 11th Hour Racing is the first Volvo Ocean Race team to track and offset their carbon footprint.

• Through their legacy project with 11th Hour Racing, the team awarded $120,000 in grant funding to local environmental organizations ($10,000 at each stopover) to support and raise awareness to the incredible efforts happening worldwide to restore ocean health. (See Route Map.)

• By adopting Meatless Mondays, the team reduced their carbon footprint by 2.72 tonnes and prevented the use of 671,000 liters of water. These actions not only helped the team reduce their water usage and carbon footprint, but it helped them raise awareness of this global movement. In fact, if you eat just one less burger per week, over the course of a year, it’s the same as driving 320 miles less in your car.

• 92% of the team’s accommodations were within walking, biking, or public transport distance from the race villages. This careful planning enabled the team to reduce their reliance on cars and taxis as well as their overall carbon footprint.

• 99,300 people visited the public Exploration Zone in the team base, learning about renewable energy, ocean science, the circular economy, and microplastic pollution. Additionally, over 550,000 people viewed the team’s sustainability-focused videos on social media.

• The team was able to achieve a 74% diversion rate (62% recycling, 13% composting) meaning that only 26% of their waste went to the landfill. By comparison, according to the World Economic Forum, Germany has the highest recycling rate in the world at 56%.

• The team removed 212 kilos of trash from beaches. Combined with the 2.1 tons of abandoned fishing gear that will be removed from the ocean by 11th Hour Racing’s grantee Healthy Seas, the team will compensate for the waste they sent to landfill, and for the rig and sails lost overboard during their dismasting in the Southern Ocean.

“When we started this campaign, we knew we wanted to bring attention to important ocean health issues such as plastic pollution and climate change,” said Charlie Enright, Skipper, Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

“I’m proud to say that not only did we raise awareness on these issues, but we also walked the talk, paying close attention to our environmental footprint and compensating for both our carbon and waste footprint where we could not eliminate or reduce,” added Mark Towill, Team Director, Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

In addition to some of the results listed above, the team followed an Environmental Purchasing Plan for food and team operations. The team’s suppliers were selected to align with their sustainability goals: Karün sunglasses made from recycled fishing nets, Aethic reef compatible sunscreen, Bluewater filtration and refill stations that deliver the world’s most effective water cleaning technology.

The team also worked with official sailing gear supplier Musto to eliminate 70% of their plastic packaging. In September, Vestas 11th Hour Racing will release a full report detailing their sustainability efforts and accomplishments during the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.

Also, at each Volvo Ocean Race stopover, Vestas 11th Hour Racing met with a local non-profit to learn about their environmental work. 11th Hour Racing awarded a $10,000 grant to each organization as part of their mission to leave a legacy beyond the race. Click here to view all grant recipients of this project.


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Volvo Ocean Race Overall Results (after 11 of 11 legs)
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 73 points
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 70
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 69
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 59
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 39
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 32
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 32

In-Port Race Series Overall Results (after 11 of 11 races)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 64 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 56
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 50
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 50
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 35
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 25
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 25

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Vestas 11th Hour Racing

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