Dee Caffari: Still turning the tide
Published on October 8th, 2019
When a friend is ill, we run for a cause. We campaign for laws that affect our neighborhoods. It’s not that we were insensitive before, but issues get our attention when they personally impact our lives. For boaters, that issue is the ocean.
In this interview with 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race skipper Dee Caffari, she talks about ocean health and her plans for the next edition, now called The Ocean Race.
What are your thoughts on the scale of the problem?
The phrase ‘seeing is believing’ is very true and over the last decade I have seen firsthand the increasing plastic pollution in many of the ocean regions I have sailed across. Gathering scientific data that then became publicly available research has provided crucial evidence, prompting action and change on a global scale.
With microplastics found nearly everywhere in the ocean, the reality is much worse than we all imagined and the solutions will be complex. However, by discussing the issues now and identifying actions that will change behavior, I am confident that together we can still make a difference.
What do you think needs to be done to address the ocean plastic crisis?
We need to urgently address the plastic already in the oceans by reduction and removal because it is having such a detrimental impact on marine health. At source, manufacturing and supply chains need to be challenged so levels of plastic production are minimized.
As consumers we have a great deal of power and increasingly people are better informed and more discerning, using sustainable brands by choice. If this trend continues, companies that are not already taking action to reduce their use of plastic will be forced to reconsider if they start losing customers to their more environmentally proactive rivals.
What other pressures should people be aware of in relation to ocean health?
The ocean means so many different things to each of us but we all rely on it for our health, climate, trade, transport, and food. As a sailor, it is a privilege to see nature in its natural environment and to see the power of Mother Nature in all her glory, testing us to our limits. The ocean acts as a barometer for our planet’s well-being and at the moment the barometer is warning us that we need to look after it better.
You carried the message to “Turn the Tide on Plastic” during the last race. How was this received by sailing fans?
They say timing is everything and we certainly hit the market at the right time. It was a genuine communication for the team and so it was delivered with heart, passionn and belief. The message was certainly well received and I hope we helped inspire people to make changes in their daily life and be more considered when making decisions as consumers.
What have you been doing to raise awareness of the problem since the end of the last race?
I did not want the momentum to be lost and realized that I now had a voice and a platform from which to speak. I had seen the issues and helped gather the scientific data so I felt I had a responsibility to continue being publicly vocal on the subject.
I also realized that, if handled correctly, you can challenge others to make critical changes. One example of this was visiting the Southampton Boat Show where I was shocked over how far behind they were in terms of sustainability.
The Ocean Race had shown me that with planning and good communication, changes at public events can happen and the public embrace it. I challenged British Marine to make changes and I am delighted to say that, a year on, a number of these have been implemented.
Do you have any plans to take part in the next edition of The Ocean Race, starting in 2021?
I genuinely love the race and I love being out on the ocean. I would very much like to be involved again and don’t like the idea of the Race going without me. However, they always say that getting to the start line is the hardest part so I have my fingers crossed that another lap of the planet is on my horizon.
The Ocean Race (formerly The Volvo Ocean Race), scheduled to start in 2021, will be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race. Entries in the IMOCA 60 class will compete for The Ocean Race trophy, while those racing the VO65s will chase the Ocean Challenge Trophy.
The Ocean Race is scheduled to start from its home port in Alicante, Spain in Q4 of 2021 and finish in Genoa, Italy in June of 2022. The full Race Route, to be confirmed in 2019, had previously revealed there would be up to nine stopover ports. Here’s what has been confirmed so far:
• Alicante, Spain: This historic Mediterranean port will host the start for the fifth consecutive edition in the autumn of 2021.
• Aarhus, Denmark: The course comes to the east coast of the Jutland peninsula during the spring of 2022, following a popular ‘Fly-By’ of the city during the final leg of the 2017-18 edition of the Race. Details.
• The Hague, Netherlands: This city along the North Sea coast will welcome the race for a third consecutive time, first coming as a ‘pitstop’ on the final leg of the 2014-15 edition and as the final finish port for the 2017-18 race. Details.
• Cabo Verde: More accustomed to having offshore teams sail by, or stop for repair, this archipelago of ten volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean will become just the second African venue the race has ever visited and the first West African nation to host the event. Details.
• Genoa, Italy: As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, this first-time race host is Italy’s largest sea port yet remains full of grandeur as the gateway to the Riviera while offering weighty architectural heritage.
• IMOCA – Team Malizia (GER)- Boris Herrmann (GER)
• VO65 – Racing For The Planet (POR)
• IMOCA – Paul Meilhat (FRA)
• IMOCA – 11th Hour Racing (USA) – Charlie Enright & Mark Towill (USA)
Source: The Ocean Race