Please select your home edition
North Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - Leaderboard Canada Newsletter: VOR delivers critical microplastics data and map


Volvo Ocean Race delivers critical scientific data on microplastics in the world's oceans

North Sails 3Di 60 - 728x90

Allen 2018 US A2030XHL 728x90

Turn the Tide on Plastic - Leg 10 from Cardiff to Gothenburg. - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Dear Recipient Name

While Dee Caffari's Turn the Tide on Plastic team finished in last place in the 2017/2018 Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), which wrapped up racing in late June in The Hague, they accomplished far more for science's knowledge of microplastics in the world's oceans than skipper Charles Caudrelier's winning Dongfeng Race Team by vigilantly collecting water samples along the VOR's racecourse. Sadly, but not surprisingly given plastic's ubiquitous presence, the news isn't good.

For anyone just tucking into this less-than-fantastic environmental update, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines microplastics as small bits of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters LOA, or roughly the size of a sesame seed. While there are still a lot of question marks remaining as to the level of danger that these tiny bits of plastic pose to our oceans and to humanity, there are serious concerns that these contaminants are already entering the food supply, starting with small marine life and possibly bio-accumulating their way up the food chain to reach a galley near you.

Throughout the 2017/2018 race, Liz Wardley, who served as Caffari's boat captain and was one of the team's most experienced sailors at the race's start, took daily water samples during the team's routine water-making duties. In turn, these samples were fed into the boat's onboard microplastic filtration system, which calculated how much plastic - measured in particles per cubic meter - existed in the sample and, by extrapolation, the world's various oceans. (N.B. Skipper Simeon Tienpont's Team AkzoNobel was also equipped with a similar water-testing system.)

Liz Wardley collects a water sample aboasrd Turn the Tide on Plastic on December 10, 2017, en route Cape Town, South Africato Melbourne, Australia - photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race
Liz Wardley collects a water sample aboasrd Turn the Tide on Plastic on December 10, 2017, en route Cape Town, South Africato Melbourne, Australia - photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race

Zhik 2018 Dongfeng Champions 300x250   Mars Keel -  Manufactured Keel Systems 250

"Down in the Southern Ocean, the water is pretty pristine, and you don't see rubbish going past, and there are all the albatrosses flying around," Wardley reported to the New York Times in a June 28, 2018 article by Christopher Clarey. "And suddenly you find out that at the same time you were sucking microplastics through a filter from that same pristine water."

According to Clarey, Sören Gutekunst from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, worked closely with the Volvo Ocean Race's Sustainability Program on this project, which Gutekunst referred to as providing "an amazing snapshot in time of our oceans."

While snapshots can be good, the underlying news from this water-sample program doesn't bode well.

Microplastics in our oceans infographic. Produced by Volvo Ocean Race. Data source: Dr-Ing. Sören Gutekunst and Dr Toste Tanhua, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel - photo © Volvo Ocean Race
Microplastics in our oceans infographic. Produced by Volvo Ocean Race. Data source: Dr-Ing. Sören Gutekunst and Dr Toste Tanhua, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel - photo © Volvo Ocean Race

Vakaros 2018 300x250   Nebo 300x250 4

On August 29, 2018, the VOR released a sobering global microplastics map. According to VOR-gathered data, only three of the 75 collected samples were free of microplastics.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the highest levels of microplastics (349 particles per cubic meter) came from samples that were collected in the South China Sea (which in turn feeds the North Pacific Gyre), however the second highest levels (307 particles per cubic meter) came from a sample that was collected at the Strait of Gibraltar, where the open Atlantic meets the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Granted, sailors and scientists have long understood that the world's currents allow water to flow from one body of water to another (unless it's bound by land, of course), but the most heartbreaking data came from Point Nemo - the spot on the planet that's farthest from land - where samples revealed 9 to 26 particles per cubic meter.

So much for assuming that human activity doesn't affect life at the higher latitudes.

AkzoNobel - Blasting through the Southern Ocean - Leg 7 from Auckland to Itajai, Day 10 on board AkzoNobel. - photo © James Blake / Volvo Ocean Race
AkzoNobel - Blasting through the Southern Ocean - Leg 7 from Auckland to Itajai, Day 10 on board AkzoNobel. - photo © James Blake / Volvo Ocean Race

P&B 2018 Sailing Season 300x250   racegeek 600x500

That's the bad news. The good news is that the VOR shared its water-quality data with NOAA, which allows scientists to access this otherwise hard-to-acquire information. (Hint: commercial and military ships travelling through the Southern Ocean typically do not change their operations to collect water samples, so the information gathered by Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team AkzoNobel is extremely valuable to scientists.)

Better still are some of the proactive ways that humanity is working to counter this serious threat to our planet's health. For example, the UK-based Daily Mail newspaper reported on September 3 that the Ocean Cleanup project ( is building a 1,970 foot "Pac-Man-like vessel", dubbed "Wilson" (think Castaway fame), that will autonomously sweep plastics and microplastics from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into its skirt-like collection system, which will then be emptied out and recycled at regular intervals.

Ocean Cleanup is envisioning a fleet of these autonomous "vessels", which they project could remove 90 percent of plastic from the world's oceans by 2040.

While 2040 feels like a long time off, and while large-scale solutions such as Ocean Cleanup might feel far removed from our everyday lives as sailors, there are important steps that we can all take to reduce plastics. For example, most boats that I sail on have long-since swapped single-use water bottles for multi-gallon jugs that each sailor uses to refill their reusable mug or cup; however all sailors are encouraged to take this a step (or three) farther by also reducing plastic wrappers and packaging from sandwiches and crew snacks (which can accidentally end up in the drink).

Here, a great idea came from America's Cup-winning yacht designer Paul Bieker, who has been known to bring crew sandwiches aboard Dark Star, our mutual friend's Bieker-designed Riptide 45, wrapped in biodegradable parchment paper and tied-off with hemp string.

Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 16, on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. - photo © James Blake / Volvo Ocean Race
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 16, on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. - photo © James Blake / Volvo Ocean Race

Seafarer 2018 300x250   Selden XPS

Also, as someone who spends a heck of a lot of time wearing polypropylene and fleece clothing (did I mention I live in Seattle?), I was delighted to hear about the Cora Ball (, which I purchased this spring, and which I now use to capture the microplastics that come off of my family's polypropylene clothing in our washing machine. Given that most serious racing teams use breathable and wicking (read: polypropylene) crew shirts and shorts, this is a great way to curb your environmental footprint for less than the cost of a round of post-racing drinks.

Finally, vote. Granted this mid-term election cycle will likely define the word "awful", and we are certainly not wading into those fraught waters, however your friends at encourage all readers to understand their chosen politicians' stances and policies on preventing the world's oceans from becoming a sea of tiny plastic sesame seeds.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt, North American Editor

Cape to St Helena Governors Cup 2019 300x250   Rooster GETSEASMART 300x250

Qingdao and OC Sport partner to deliver China's first international Flying Phantom foiling event
OC Sport, the global pioneer in event creation and management, is delighted to announce the creation of a new event that will see the international Flying Phantom fleet compete in Qingdao, China

With World Championship on horizon, 12 Metre North Americans to be hotly contested
From Friday through Sunday, September 21-23, nine historic 12 Metre yachts (including four past winners of the America's Cup) and 150 of some of the world's top sailors will be racing on Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay

Ocean Signal highlights World Sailing rule requiring crew to carry personal AIS for Category 2 Races
As sailors prepare for the 2019 season, safety at sea leader Ocean Signal is raising awareness about a rule within the 2018-19 World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations requiring every crew member to carry a personal AIS device

upffront 2018 Velocitek Prism 300x250   Fever-Tree 300x250
100 days to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
It is 100 days out from the 1pm Boxing Day start of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's (CYCA) 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and already a fleet of 48 includes last year's winner, three super maxis, nine internationals.

Rolex Big Boat Series at St. Francis Yacht Club - Overall
Bright sunshine, steady breeze and flat seas greeted the 76 teams for the final day of racing at the 54th edition of the Rolex Big Boat Series (September 12-16, 2018), hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Paul Cayard at the second annual Vintage Gold Cup 2018
No wind for two days then three races on Saturday made up the second annual Vintage Gold Cup. GEM IX belonged to a mentor of mine, Sir Durward Knowles, when he won gold in the '64 Olympics.

RS Sailing - Explore 300x250   North Sails 2018 3Di 300x250
Rolex Swan Cup 2018 at Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Overall
Contested by a diverse international fleet of 110 yachts from 17 countries encompassing over fifty years of yacht design and heritage, the 20th edition of the Rolex Swan Cup concluded earlier today following a compelling week's sailing.

GC32 Villasimius Cup in Sardinia - Overall
Light winds on the GC32 Villasimius Cup's final day may not have provided the same top speed foiling action of the previous three days, but there was high drama across the leaderboard during today's three races with first place changing twice and third pl

52 SUPER SERIES Shares the Bart's Bash Fun in Valencia
On the eve of the final regatta of the season the 52 SUPER SERIES family turned out in force in Valencia to honour friend, colleague and former crew Andrew 'Bart' Simpson on the occasion of the 5th Bart's Bash. ?

Gul 2018 CodeZero Glove 300x250   Hyde Sails 2017 March 300x250
Japan strike gold as World Cup Series Enoshima concludes
Japan's Keiju Okada and Jumpei Hokazono won gold in the Men's 470 as the World Cup Series Enoshima, the first major event on Tokyo 2020 Olympic waters, came to a tame finish.

North Sails Weekly Debrief: Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Beneteau Partnership, Breaking News!
North Sails clients win six divisions at the 29th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo.

DLR Laser Masters World Championships in Dublin Bay - Overall
After a touch and go battle with light winds on Dublin Bay, both course areas delivered a final race to round off the Laser Masters World Championships sponsored by DLR on Saturday afternoon (Dublin, Ireland - Saturday 15th September, 2018).

elan E Line 2018 300x250 250 - 2014
Future of Bavaria Yachtbau secured
A private equity fund advised by the German investment company CMP Capital Management-Partners will continue Bavaria Yachtbau. The subsidiary Bavaria Catamarans is also being acquired.

Valencia welcomes the 52 Super Series finale
Next week eleven TP52s will be docked in front of the iconic Veles e Vents building and will race off the famous Malvarossa Beach as the final placings for the five-month, five-regatta season will be decided.

Angst as Sailing misses Paris 2024 Paralympic inclusion
World Sailing says it is shocked and disappointed to learn that Para Sailing has not been included by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. The decision is another blow for the beleaguered world organisation.

Southern Spars 300x250   Protector - 300x250
Royal Western Yacht Club OSTAR & TWOSTAR set for May 2020
The Royal Western Yacht Club is pleased to announce another edition of their iconic Oceanic Races, the OSTAR and TWOSTAR Transatlantic Race.

Sailing not included on Paris 2024 Paralympic Games Sports Programme
World Sailing is shocked and disappointed to learn that sailing has not been included by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Pontos Winches Get 'Karverized'
Most winches still just have two gears but Pontos add an additional two gears in one of two different configurations. The two extra gears are fully automatic and can either be focussed on providing extra speed or extra power.

J/22 World Championship at Annapolis Yacht Club - Overall
Zeke Horowitz's Uncle Fluffy accomplished what none of the other 63 teams at the J/22 World Championship could—avoiding a high-number finish in the nine-race series hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club in Maryland.

Campbell Conard, age 15, completes Longest Sunfish Race in the World
Campbell Conard (JY '17) competed in the 48th annual "Longest Sunfish Race in the World" on Saturday, July 14th — a 25-mile race around Shelter Island, starting at Southold Yacht Club

Freddy Loof and Max Salminen, two Swedish skippers at Star Sailors League Finals 2018
This year an unprecedented number of young talented sailors will be trying to prove they're better than the old guard sailing heroes.

Volvo Ocean Race sustainability programme wins awards
The judges commended the programme for its 'fantastic use of a global platform to spread an important message around the danger of plastic pollution'. They also commented on how the campaign encouraged young people to become climate activists

New Formula Foil Ocean Racing Championships (FFORC) launched with a £50,000 prize for the winner
A new race format named Formula Foil Ocean Racing Championships (FFORC) with a minimum of 10 teams, sailing 10 races, over 10,000nm offering a total prize fund of £80,000 for the winners has been announced for 2020.

America's Cup: Raft of Protocol changes as more Challengers emerge
Emirates Team New Zealand say they are "dealing with five further possible challengers and although we cannot say with any certainty how many of them will proceed". The comment came in Evidence lodged with the Environment Court, by Emirates Team New Ze

Natural succession in the RS Sailing family
In August RS Sailing celebrated 25 years in style with the spectacular RS Games at the WPNSA: the largest one-design event in the UK. An incredible 1300 sailors in 900 boats took part in this marathon of sailing and fun.

The MACIF trimaran is awesome!
It would be an understatement to say that everything has gone well on board the MACIF trimaran since she was relaunched on 31 July 2018.

Zhik 2018 Hyeres 728x90 BOTTOM


This email was sent to the.recipients@email.address by YY Online Services Ltd.
The George Business Centre, Christchurch Road, New Milton, BH25 6QJ
Registered in England No. 7895890

Our records show that you signed up to receive news from us on 1 January 2000

Please do not reply to this message as this address cannot receive replies.

You can unsubscribe at any time or email us here if you encounter any difficulties
Highfield Boats - Sailing - FOOTERNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterGul 2020 FOOTER