The second best time is now

Published on June 8th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The trend toward environmental consciousness is positive, and hopefully not a moment too soon. Our reliance on convenience has filled rivers and valleys with packaging waste, impacting ocean health and endangering the food chain. We are our worst enemy.

And as much as we’d like to think our sport is some kind of shining example of goodness, we aren’t all that wonderful, and it is most evidenced at the elite level.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there will be a fuel-burning coach boat for nearly every entrant, while America’s Cup boats are followed by a trail of engine-powered support staff. Add in the jet-setting and throw-away gear and we are our worst enemy.

Interestingly, as costs increase, so does the need for positive messaging, and not much is more positive than environmental consciousness. As recreational regattas promote their green themes, the big leagues swing for the fences with grander efforts.

While preaching from the problem causers can feel ironic, maybe something good will come out of it, and not coincidentally, details are revealed during World Ocean’s Day on June 8th.

America’s Cup defender Emirates Team New Zealand has their designers working on a prototype hydrogen powered foiling chase boat, and if successful, it is possible that the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup will contain a provision that all teams, along with event and race support boats, must use hydrogen powered support boats.

“We intend to really drive the development curve of new and clean technology in the marine industry,” said team CEO Grant Dalton. “It is our hope that we can make a seismic shift into hydrogen power and an emission free statement for the industry.”

Another effort is occurring with SailGP, which will be moving their global sports league of eight teams and equipment across three continents and seven countries during the eight event season. There is nothing green about that, but the league reports it intends to remove more carbon than its footprint and is committed to being 100% powered by nature on-water and on-shore at events by 2025.

While I can be cynical about seemingly self-serving efforts, we can’t make environmental progress without witnessing environmental progress. Watching professional athletes drink from single-use containers does not make progress. As the Curmudgeon once said, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

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