10,000 miles on the clock, 6,000 guests welcomed aboard, 7 intense stopovers  and the arrival of the watchmaker “BREGUET” as main partner…  The Race for Water Odyssey celebrates its 1st anniversary! 

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.”


For the first time in Central America, an exclusive event dedicated to the protection of the oceans and an affective waste management is held from February 22 to 25, 2018 in Panama City (Fuerte Amador, Flamenco Island): “RESIDUOS RECICLADOS, OCÉANOS LIMPIOS”. This initiative is led by the SUEZ Group and its guest, the Race For Water Foundation: the two entities want to raise awareness among the general public about the need to optimize the management and to promote the waste recycling, through various information actions and local events.

The town hall of Panama supports this project considering the prevention and education are the first actions needed to implement a good waste management. This project is part of a wider territorial dynamic: the objective is to promote a change in behaviour regarding the production, separation and classification of waste considering that “islands of garbage” have appeared in the Pacific and Caribbean regions.

In Panama and Colombia, one generates more than 1.2 kg of waste per day, which is mostly dumped into rivers and seas, with catastrophic impacts on biodiversity. This situation is frightening since Panama has a unique mangrove forest whereas Colombia hosts 70% of the typical marine species within the biogeographic region of the “tropical eastern Pacific”. Thus, it is important to identify and valorise technological solutions in terms of waste management to protect these resources.

In this way, “RESIDUOS RECYCLADOS, OCÉANOS LIMPIOS” has started on February 22 with the implementation of a students workshop within the famous 100% ecological catamaran of Race For Water. Indeed, fifteen students from the Technological University of Panama (UTP) and the ISMUTH (School of Architecture) discovered the ship and the objectives of the workshop: studying the issues of the urban development of Panama associated with a good waste management. The following days are dedicated to a press conference, the testimonies of local and international actors (ANCON, UN Environment) and awareness activities for adults and children as well as the employees of SUEZ.

“The protection of the oceans is highly important within the fight against global warming and the preservation of biodiversity. In Central America, Panama and Colombia, as everywhere else, SUEZ considers the protection of the oceans as one of its top priorities. We intend to provide concrete solutions to limit the marine pollution from the sources: less waste and less untreated wastewater. In the capitals of Panama or Bogota, more than half of the waste is not recycled: rivers and beaches are littered with hazardous wastes that jeopardize the marine life. SUEZ is determined to play a key role in developing a sustainable waste management policy.” explained Ana Giros, General Director of SUEZ in Latin America.

“Race For Water is not only trying to raise the awareness about the actual state of oceans. We also want to offer solutions that can help fighting water pollution arising from land. The ETIA solution makes possible to transform plastic waste into energy, it can be seen as an added value for the economic growth of countries.” explains Marco Simeoni, President of the Foundation Race For Water.This alliance with SUEZ and this stopover in Panama are an opportunity for both of us considering that we share similar values and the same objective: to reduce marine pollution”

It has been more than 50 years that SUEZ is present in the region, supporting the development of coastal cities such as the city of Panama or Cartagena de Indias. Thus, the Group built the first wastewater treatment plant of Panama and numerous drinking water treatment units in the Caribbean islands (Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Jamaica). Today, nearly 3 million people benefit from the sanitation services of SUEZ throughout Central America, the Caribbean and Colombia..

The imprint we’ve left

When it comes time to leave, we wonder about what kind of imprint we’ve left in our wake. To get an answer, we asked some of the characters we met in Guadeloupe.

On making landfall on an island or a shore, the Race for Water Odyssey teams expend a great deal of energy, raise awareness among the local youngsters, play host to local protagonists and open up discussions about plastic pollution of the oceans so that a series of solutions can be geared up specially for them. However, what’s left once we cast off?

“All I’d like say, though it might sound like advertising… is thank you, thank you very much Race For Water”, says Soazig Lemoine, marine ecotoxicology researcher at the University of the West Indies in Guadeloupe. Following an initial meeting in September with the arrival of scientists from the Ephemare study project, the latter helped the teams from France and Italy by offering them storage space in her laboratories. Furthermore, with her extensive knowledge of the marine environment in Guadeloupe, the scientist came aboard the vessel to assist the researchers with taking their samples.

In Septembre, scientists come on board to study the plastic pollution impact on marine life


“Without the teams from Bordeaux, I’d have never been able to imagine carrying out a study such as this, as I don’t have the necessary human resources. Here, I’m the only scientist to be working on the contamination of organisms through marine pollutants”, explains Soazig. Touched by this encounter, she’s keen to continue the collaboration and is looking forward to the results of the study. “I hope that once the studies are published, I’ll be able to invite the Ephemare team to Pointe-à-Pitre to give us the results on Guadeloupe and its inhabitants.” Indeed, still in regular contact with the ecotoxicology team from Bordeaux, the two entities both seem to want to continue their collaboration in order to get a better understanding of the impact of pollution and plastics in Guadeloupe.

Philippe Wattiau, head of the sustainable development and environmental assessment mission at the DEAL[1], having organised a workshop on the circular economy aboard the vessel, believes “the approach adopted by the Foundation, by playing host to the public aboard the boat, by raising awareness among youngsters, as well as by highlighting the fact that solutions exist, is very relevant”. Working in the same way, the latter wished to use the vessel as a hospitality space in order to gather together multiple local actors. “My goal is to create synergies between them and successfully carry out practical projects based on models from a circular economy.” It’s a concept that maximises the available resources by considering waste to be other peoples’ raw material. “That’s exactly what Race For Water is considering”, says Philippe Wattiau.

Philippe Wattiau workshop’s on board


By way of an example, there is a project in the pipeline right now for a laundry in the Jarry industrial zone in Pointe-à-Pitre, which the DEAL has put in touch with a neighbouring cement works. Requiring high levels of heat, the laundry will be able to benefit from the heat emitted en masse by the cement works, resulting in a collaboration that has interesting environmental and economic benefits for both entities. “Marco Simeoni has shown real strength. I have great admiration for this man, whose convictions make you stand up and take action. In my own way, I’m trying to do the best I can. He’s a man who’s grasped the fact that it’s impossible to develop oneself to the detriment of others and that we cannot live with unhappy people around us”, concludes Philippe Wattiau.

The Race For Water Team thanks you


Galvanised by such testimonies, the Race For Water Odyssey teams are more motivated than ever. Indeed, it is in collaboration with local protagonists, through the strength of one’s conviction and each person’s desire to take action, that it will be possible to combat plastic pollution of the oceans. Many thanks to you.


[1] Directorate for Environment, Development and Housing


New hurricane alert from MARIA resulting in a delayed arrival in Guadeloupe!

The summer season in the Antilles arc is often punctuated by a string of tropical storms. Though this is a familiar phenomenon, it is no less impressive and this year appears to be particularly intense and unusual. Indeed, the specialists agree that the frequency of these meteorological events and their violence are nothing short of exceptional.

Officially starting on 1 June, the 2017 hurricane season in the North Atlantic Ocean is set to extend through until 30 November 2017 according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

In the meantime, the various weather forecasting centres are continuing to send out alerts about the formation of these low pressure centres and their evolution.

In this way, on Sunday 17 September, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) confirmed that storm MARIA has moved up to the status of a hurricane.

This latest hurricane is due to pass the Antilles arc and more especially Guadeloupe this Monday evening. The red alert has been triggered in Guadeloupe. As a result, on Friday Pascal Morizot and the crew of Race for Water took the wise decision to adopt a course a long way to the south of the zone in question. This longer and safer detour will enable them to circumnavigate this tropical low, which will generate heavy seas and winds bordering on 150-180 km/hr as it rolls through.

Aboard the boat, all is well and you can track Race for Water’s course on the cartography, which is accessible here: http://tracker-odyssey.addviso.org/fr/

The latest ETA is scheduled for the afternoon on Thursday 21 September in the Marina du Fort in Pointe à Pitre.

In the middle of the Atlantic: we check in with the crew


Quartermaster Olivier Rouvillois is in a groove

“Every morning, after a fantastic breakfast, I flip through my cookbooks, think about what we’re going to eat that day, stick some Post-it notes on the day’s recipes, and then I head down into the hold where we store the food. I always start with fruits and vegetables. It’s pitch black, I’m crawling around with my headlamp on, and I have to check over the produce and pick out the good stuff. Then everything has to be cleaned, and I separate out what we’re going to use that day. Part of my job is helping the chef out by prepping the ingredients for the two meals we cook every day.

Fruit and vegetable on board

Today was our Engineer Martin Gavériaux’s turn to cook. I marked the recipes for him, and then he got to work. He whipped up a wonderful crisp salad and a mouth-watering sauté: we all pronounced it worthy of a gourmet restaurant!”

Martin, top chef of the day and his guests


After two weeks at sea, we check in with Mate Anne Le Chantoux

“Sometimes I dream that I’m on land. I guess that subconsciously, I miss it, but at the same time it’s amazing to be surrounded by blue water. Crossing the Atlantic is such a great opportunity, maybe once in a lifetime, so I’m trying to make the most of every day!”

The sea

“Our sense of time seems to be changing too. It’s already been two weeks since we left Funchal, Madeira and set our course for Bermuda. But it feels a lot longer. Crossing the Atlantic on Race for Water is a slow process, but I knew that before we left. But I’m realizing that you can’t really conceptualize how long an expedition will take until it’s already underway. Annelore (First Mate Annelore Le Duff) told me that she felt the same way when she went to Australia. When you look at it on a map, of course you see that the ocean is huge. But the reality doesn’t sink in until you start traveling for miles and miles at a relatively slow pace.

Pascal, captain of the ship and Martin, engineer in the light of night

Then there’s the feeling of being totally alone. We’ve seen maybe four or five ships since we left Funchal, and I was really expecting that we’d see more. Sometimes dolphins swim up alongside the hulls and keep us company for a while, and we’ve had a few flying fish land on the solar panels (unfortunately they have a hard time taking off again).

Solar panels

On board Race for Water, our schedule is pretty similar to when we were in port, getting the boat ready to leave…just in slow motion. We have a list of everyone’s chores, we have to keep things in order on the ship, and we have a chart where we rotate jobs to keep “family” life going on board. Morale is good; we’re happy and we keep each other motivated.

I’ve been working a lot with Olivier (Quartermaster Olivier Rouvillois) on getting things organized and making the most of our space. We’ve set up shelving so that we can store the kites and pods, and we’ve worked on the lab so that the scientists can make the most of the space that we have for them. And we’ve worked on lots of other things too!”

Another sunset

Across the Atlantic with solar and wind power: Franck David explains how it’s done


Today, Race for Water set sail on her first transatlantic crossing, powered only by her kite and solar panels. Director of Operations Franck David explains the challenges of zero-emissions yachting.

Crossing the Atlantic is a whole different kind of yachting. Conditions and weather play a much greater role than when you’re cruising along a coastline, as Race for Water did on her maiden voyage from Lorient (France) to Madeira. On their way across the Atlantic, Race for Water and her crew will have to deal with many different types of weather, including the major depressions we’re seeing near Bermuda right now. We know that those depressions always move from West to East, so they’re heading in Race for Water’s direction, and the crew will have to handle them accordingly. Our crew for this leg is smaller than for Race for Water’s maiden voyage—only seven people are on board: five crewmembers, Expedition Leader Marco Simeoni, and an engineer from SkySails, the German firm responsible forh Race for Water’s kite drive system.

Race for Water enjoyed favorable wind patterns during her maiden voyage. Conditions were mild and the prevailing tailwinds allowed the crew to use the yacht’s innovative kite drive system quite a bit. On this leg to Bermuda, we know that Race for Water will be sailing into the wind and waves. We’re counting on Captain Pascal Morizot and Engineer Martin Gavériaux to make the right decisions during the crossing. On board Race for Water, they receive four weather reports per day, with forecasts for wind, sun, and waves, and they use those to plot the best course in terms of Race for Water’s available power.

Sailing under solar and wind power

Here on land, we don’t make any decisions for the crew; we just talk through the route options based on Race for Water’s speed and the conditions out on the ocean. Operating solely on solar and wind power is a learning experience for all of us, and we refined the system during Race for Water’s maiden voyage from Lorient (France) to Madeira. The crew had to learn how to manage the yacht’s two power sources: solar panels and the kite drive system. That gave us a better idea of the speeds we can expect from Race for Water in different wind and sun conditions, using the kite, solar power, or a combination of the two.



Using this data, we can fine-tune Race for Water’s course, and make the best decisions for the yacht’s unique capabilities. Aside from that, the most important factor is our crew’s morale and the atmosphere on board Race for Water, and we’re confident that everything is going really well from that point of view.

On behalf of the entire Race for Water team, thanks for following our journey!



An emotional day


Yesterday at 3PM, Race for Water and her crew set out on a five-year odyssey. On the dock, there were smiles, tears, hugs, and lots of laughter. The crew’s friends and family were clearly bursting with pride; the big moment had finally arrived.

Finally it was time for the crew to board. After one last wave, they focused on the tasks at hand, as Race for Water headed for the open ocean. But their fans weren’t quite ready to let them go; in motor boats, sailboats, and whatever else they could hitch a ride on, they followed in Race for Water’s wake. On her way out of the harbor, everyone waved, whistled, and shouted, overcome by the great adventure that was about to start.



But now we need to let them go, off on their mission to save our oceans. The crew will be circling the world on a mission to solve problems and really change things. Leaving on this kind of journey is never an easy decision, and the reality of the trip isn’t easy either. When our crew leaves their friends, family, and their daily routines for months at a time, we can see how dedicated they are to Race for Water’s mission to save our oceans. Yesterday was that moment: the journey of hope has begun.


Photographers : Peter Charaf et Pierre Bouras