In 2010, the Swiss entrepreneur Marco Simeoni created the Race for Water Foundation. Passionate about the sea, in 2015 he decided to launch an initial scientific and environmental expedition, the Race for Water Odyssey, to review the global situation regarding the plastic pollution of our oceans. The findings are both clear and alarming in that there is no such thing as ‘plastic islands’ and venturing out to collect the plastic waste at sea is utopian to say the least. Indeed, at the heart of the oceans, a ‘soup’ of microplastic floats around with the oceanic gyres. “We very quickly realised that the solution lies on land. It is absolutely imperative that we prevent plastic waste from reaching the oceans”, explains Marco Simeoni.
One year ago, on 9 April 2017, the Race for Water catamaran set sail around the world on a new five-year odyssey to offer up solutions regarding the conservation of the oceans. “In 2015, we acknowledged that we were powerless in the face of the sheer scale of the problem with plastic pollution of the oceans. With this 2017-2021 Odyssey, aboard the largest vessel in the world to be powered by a combination of solar-hydrogen-kite energy, we are keen to show that thanks to innovative technologies there are lasting solutions for conserving the oceans.”
Between 2017 and 2021, Race for Water is circumnavigating the globe with around 35 stopovers coloured by the following objectives:
– participating in major international events to educate the greatest number of people about the urgent need to conserve the oceans. (The America’s Cup, the Olympic Games in Tokyo and the Universal Exposition in Dubai)
– visiting islands and large coastal towns, both victims and the source of the plastic pollution of the oceans, in order to raise awareness among local populations and put forward solutions to prevent plastic waste from reaching the waterways and hence the oceans.
– hosting scientific missions aboard the vessel to further understanding about the consequences of marine plastic contamination.
Review of year one of the Race for Water Odyssey:
Since casting off from Lorient (France) in April 2017, the Race for Water catamaran has covered nearly 10,000 nautical miles (9,656nm to be precise) in her 104 days at sea, which have led her from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, where she is currently on stopover in Lima.
In the space of a year, there have already been 7 stopovers (Madeira, Bermuda, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Panama and Peru) and 3 scientific missions, with 23 researchers of 6 different nationalities and 6,000 official guests, including over 255 political decision-makers, all of whom have been welcomed aboard the Race for Water Foundation’s ambassador vessel in order to discuss the conservation of the Oceans as well as the possible solutions to combat plastic pollution.
In this way, the objectives to LEARN and SHARE, which the Foundation set itself have been reached at every stopover venue. The same is true of the ACT element with the promotion through local decision-makers of high-temperature pyrolysis, a technology capable of transforming plastic waste into electricity. Giving value to this material will enable street collectors to be paid, thus encouraging them to pick up more plastic. The upshot of this approach is a world in which today’s waste will be tomorrow’s resource.
BREGUET embarks with Race for Water in the conservation of the Oceans:
The first year of this odyssey has also been coloured by the arrival of a title partner alongside the Foundation’s teams: the BREGUET company.
Marco Simeoni, President of the Race for Water Foundation: “BREGUET’s commitment alongside our Foundation for the next four years is a powerful symbol of its involvement in the cause to conserve the Oceans. This collaboration comes as fantastic recognition for the Race for Water teams, who work on all the seas of the globe on a daily basis. Through this partnership, the impact of our actions will be further reinforced, which we’re absolutely delighted about.”
The Race for Water Odyssey, with the support of BREGUET and bolstered by the enthusiasm felt for the project at every stopover, is continuing its journey in 2018 to Chile (Valparaiso and Concepcion in June), Robinson Island and Easter Island (early September) before reaching French Polynesia in October and culminating in Fiji for the end of year festivities.
Franck David, Executive Chairman of the Race for Water Odyssey: “This Odyssey is unique! Through its duration, over 5 years around the world! Through its encounters, right up close and personal to the local populations, entrepreneurs and decision-makers! Through its vision and its objectives, with a strong commitment to taking action and with the conviction that solutions do exist! Through its human and technological challenge with its Land and Sea-based teams, who day in day out further the cause for the conservation of the oceans on a vessel powered by 100% renewable energies! “
Jean-Marc Normant, Captain and Technical Director: “Objectively, when we began the Race for Water Odyssey in Lorient in 2017, there were a lot of unknowns regarding our catamaran. With the passing miles we’ve discovered this boat, which is very special in terms of her energy management. With use she’s proven to be very pleasant and we can navigate the oceans with confidence. Race for Water is an incredible work platform for those scientists who get a chance to come aboard, as well as for those of us who live aboard her and host lots of visitors during the stopovers. Over the course of this first year, we’ve done a fair amount of work on our means of propulsion, be it the kite or the hydrogen, which has further improved the vessel’s qualities and there are still over 20,000 miles to go until we reach the end of the Odyssey in 2021!”
Camille Rollin, head of the Foundation’s ACT programme: “It’s in Lima that we celebrated the 1st anniversary of what is a truly exceptional human adventure. This expedition is primarily one of hope. Every day we meet people like us, seeking to show that solutions do exist and that it is through action and collaboration that we will succeed in countering the disasters caused by plastic pollution of the oceans. We’re counting on you!”
Kim Van Arkel, scientific advisor : “Since our departure in April 2017, the Race for Water platform has hosted over 23 researchers, including 12 scientists from the European JPI Oceans programme with the collaboration of local scientists, Bermudians (in June-July 2017), Cubans (in August 2017) and Guadeloupeans (October 2017). Set up in 2011, JPI Oceans is a strategic programme geared towards coordinating marine research and responsible for the launch of the “Ecological Aspects of Microplastics” programme grouping together 4 projects to assess the impact of microplastics in marine ecosystems, including EPHEMARE and WEATHER-MIC.”