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The Ocean Race: Helping our neighbours

by Peter Rusch, The Ocean Race 2 Apr 2020 07:21 PDT
The Ocean Race provided an initial batch of 18 face shields to health care workers. © The Ocean Race

The international crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus has impacted communities, families and individuals around the world.

Here at The Ocean Race, our thoughts are with those affected and we support all on the front line who are working to contain the virus and minimise its impact.

With that in mind, staff at The Ocean Race have been providing a measure of help to local health care providers who are stretched to capacity caring for patients with COVID-19.

The technology team at the Race, who more typically spend their time developing the systems that bring media off the boats, have re-purposed the office 3D printer, normally used to build custom mounts and brackets for media equipment, to manufacture protective face shield masks that are now in short supply in local facilities.

The hospital in Elda, located 40 km inland from race headquarters in Alicante, has been particularly hard hit, as many local shoe manufacturing companies had representatives attend a trade fair in Northern Italy just before the health crisis erupted. Authorities believe this has contributed to a localised outbreak in COVID-19 cases.

Estefania Esteve, the Financial Director for The Ocean Race identified a need in Elda through communications with a local contact. The race is also speaking with local hospitals in Alicante about whether there is a way to provide help here as well.

Over the past days, using a design shared on the internet, Technology Director Samuel Piñeiro, has been running the Race's 3D printer 24-hours a day in a spare room in his house, producing protective shields to help ease an overburdened system.

"We all know how acute the crisis is here in Spain," Piñeiro said. "This is one, small, concrete thing we can do, with the tools we have, to provide some help."

On Monday, The Ocean Race provided an initial batch of 18 face shields to health care workers. Using a slightly modified design, a further 14 masks should be available on Thursday.

Similarly, Iker Martinez, a veteran of The Ocean Race in 2011-12 and 2014-15, has been spending his time in 'self-isolation' sewing masks for health care workers from his home in Palma de Mallorca.

"I know I can't do it as fast as the professionals, but there are not enough masks and I can help a little bit," he told Spanish newspaper Marca this weekend. His attitude is one shared across the country as citizens band together to contribute.

The crisis in Spain has touched all corners of the country. With its headquarters in Alicante, The Ocean Race is committed to helping in any way possible. We are eternally grateful to the doctors, nurses, carers and all other essential workers who put themselves at risk every day to help all of us through these challenging times.

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