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Celebrating a year of innovation and positive change


One year ago the first of seven Ocean Summits took place in Alicante setting in motion a series of landmark events to address the global crisis of ocean plastic pollution.

The summits brought together creative minds from the worlds of sport, industry, government, science and ocean advocates, to explore solutions and inspire action.

© Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race

Countries, including Spain and Wales, businesses, such as Volvo Cars and Sky, along with a diverse range of both large and small organisations, with a collective concern about ocean health, made meaningful commitments to solve the plastic problem.

Taking in Alicante, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg and The Hague, over 2000 people attended, including expert speakers and members of several Royal households, with many more following online.

The events heard personal experiences of marine debris from race sailors.  They also saw the release of groundbreaking data following the analysis of seawater samples, collected by race boats Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team AkzoNobel, on the spread of microplastics, even to our remotest oceans.

Anne-Cecile Turner, Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme Leader, said: “This series of summits has shown the power a sporting event can have on a global issue, make a real difference and affect positive change.

"We built a platform that governments and businesses used to announce their intentions to make impactful changes in their operations for the future health of our seas.

“The momentum created by everyone involved has been truly inspiring and we remain committed to using our sustainability message to continue to lead, inspire and engage and make tangible impacts for ocean preservation.”

© Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race

Impacts of the summits included:

• In Alicante, the Spanish Government announced that it was joining the UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign. The Mayor of Alicante also announced an education campaign on plastic in all schools in the city.

• At the Cape Town Ocean Summit, the V&A Waterfront shopping centre, which welcomes 24 million visitors each year, pledged to eliminate single-use plastic bags and bottles.

• In Hong Kong, the government revealed plans for a $HK20 million fund for upgrading plastic recycling facilities.

• During the Newport stopover, Rhode Island become the first US state to sign up to the #CleanSeas campaign. Volvo Cars revealed it would remove single-use plastics from all its offices, canteens and events.

• In Cardiff, the Welsh Government signed up to the #CleanSeas campaign alongside World Sailing and the International Olympic Committee. Sky revealed their efforts to remove single-use plastic from their supply chain and Iceland Foods Group revealed the extension of their in-store trial of a Deposit Return Scheme.

• Gothenburg saw the Swedish Government allocate €7.8 million to 15 projects related to ocean health. Volvo Cars announced ambitions that from 2025, at least 25 per cent of the plastics used in every newly launched Volvo car would be made from recycled material.

• In The Hague, the city signed up to the #CleanSeas campaign and set out a plan to make all plastic products recyclable.

Stuart Templar, Director of Sustainability at Volvo Cars, said: “Volvo Cars was proud to have been a part of the Ocean Summits. They were an excellent series of events to raise awareness of and discuss the global problem of marine plastic pollution, as well as encourage governments, cities and businesses to make firm commitments to help Turn The Tide on Plastic.”

The Ocean Summits formed part of Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme, in collaboration with Founding Principal Sustainability Partner 11th Hour Racing, Principal Partner the Mirpuri Foundation and our other main partners, Volvo, AkzoNobel, Ocean Family Foundation, Stena Recycling and Bluewater.

The UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign partnered with the race with the aim of encouraging governments, businesses and individuals to make changes in their own lives to reduce their plastic footprint.

© Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race

The 2017-18 series of events were inspired by an Ocean Summit in Newport during the 2014-15 stopover.

Todd McGuire, Program Director, 11th Hour Racing, said: “We are thrilled and proud of the success of the Ocean Summit series, which started in the previous edition of the race in our home town at the Newport stopover. When we started talking to Volvo Ocean Race about expanding this concept in 2017-18 as a key element of the Sustainability Program, we planned for five Ocean Summits, but after a packed one in Alicante for the start of the race, more host cities asked to be included in this program.

“We ended up with seven summits throughout the world - an impressive series of conferences of creative thinkers, all looking for answers with an innovative approach, from large companies to small start-ups, NGOs, governments and philanthropists. Having a tangible call to action through our mutual partnership with UN Environment and their Clean Seas campaign was instrumental for the success of these summits, which saw a growing level of commitments to protect our oceans. “

© Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race

Paulo Mirpuri, President of Mirpuri Foundation,  said: "The outcome of the series of Ocean Summits clearly exceeded our expectations. They were a powerful, effective platform for the exchange of knowledge and intelligence on all matters of ocean health and for the airing of problems and solutions between individuals, companies, foundations and governments.

“So, as the Principal Sustainability Partner of the Volvo Ocean Race, all of us at the Mirpuri Foundation would like to congratulate everybody involved with the summits on this important anniversary, as we celebrate what has been an inspiring year of innovation and positive change for our oceans.

“We are very proud to have played our part in highlighting the harmful effects of plastic, not only our planet's oceans but also its negative impact on human health.

"This is only the beginning. Together we have all made great strides in our endeavours to rid the planet of polluting plastics, but it is only by continuing to show, not just word but by deed, that we can make a lasting and significant difference to the sustainability of our planet."

Bluewater helped significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic bottles in race villages by providing water hydration stations at stopovers.

Anders Jacobson, President of Bluewater, who spoke at several summits, added: “Nelson Mandela said sport has the power to change the world and as a sustainability partner to the Volvo Ocean Race we’ve seen how the Race successfully attracted huge public attention to the dangers of ocean pollution, inspiring people at every stopover to think again about the use of single-use plastics.”

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Dongfeng heroes in running for World Sailor of the Year gong


They finally got their hands on the Race trophy back in June – fulfilling a childhood dream – but 2018 could be about to get even better for Dongfeng's heroes Charles Caudrelier, Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou, who have all been nominated for the prestigious World Sailor of the Year prize.

© Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race

The trio, who wrapped up the Volvo Ocean Race victory with a last-gasp finish in The Hague, are joined by eight other world-class athletes on the shortlist, which features the best talent from across the sport of sailing.

It's not the first time that Brouwer has caught the attention of the wider sports world. She won the award back in 1998 as a 25-year-old whilst preparing for her first Olympic Games in Sydney, and now returns to the reckoning some two decades later as a Volvo Ocean Race winner.

© Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race

The Rolex World Sailor of the Year title is a prize that has long had strong roots in our Race – ever since the first award was won by Race legend Sir Peter Blake in 1994.

That Kiwi/Volvo Ocean Race connection has continued over the years, and Team Brunel's NZ star Pete Burling has scooped the trophy in two of the past three years, once with long-term sailing partner, MAPFRE's Blair Tuke.

Looking back to 2014, the award was won by team AkzoNobel's Martine Grael (and her 49erFX partner, Kahena Kunze) – following in the footsteps of her father, Volvo Ocean Race winner Torben Grael, who took the honours in 2009.

MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández stole the plaudits in 2011, when he and partner Iker Martínez grabbed the award, before turning their attentions to a 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race entry as MAPFRE.

Kiteboarders, offshore sailors and Olympic specialists are all in the running for the awards, which will be given to a male and a female winner at the World Sailing Awards Ceremony in Florida, USA on 30 October.

© Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race

The Awards night is part of the World Sailing Annual Conference, where other prizes including the 11th Hour Racing Sustainability, Team of the Year and Boat of the Year will be given out.

The full shortlist for the awards is as follows:

Caterina Banti (ITA) – 2018 Nacra 17 World Champion
Carolijn Brouwer (NED) / Marie Riou (FRA) – Volvo Ocean Race winners
Daniela Moroz (USA) – 2018 Formula Kiteboarding World Champion
Wendy Tuck (AUS) – Clipper Round the World Race winning skipper

Charles Caudrelier (FRA) – Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper
Sime and Mihovil Fantela (CRO) – 2018 49er World Champions
Pavlos Kontides (CYP) – 2018 Laser World Champion
Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) – 2018 Men’s RS:X World Champion
Ruggero Tita (ITA) – 2018 Nacra 17 World Champion

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More technology, more diversity, more sustainability…


The next edition of the race, scheduled to start in 2021, will include two dynamic classes of boats, more women racing than ever before, and a youth challenge trophy.

© Austin Wong / Volvo Ocean Race

Initial details have just been released with the Preliminary Notice of Race now available to prospective teams, outlining the general rules of the next event.

Following the release of the preliminary document, race organisers will continue to consult with key stakeholders over the coming weeks before opening for entries for the next race on December 11, 2018.

Two classes will compete in the 2021 event; the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which produced such close, compelling racing in the last two editions of the race.

Entries in the IMOCA 60 class are competing for the overall race title while crews racing the VO65s will chase the first ever Youth Challenge Trophy, as a majority of the 10 sailors on the boat will need to be under 30 years of age, with a minimum of three sailors under the age of 26.

© James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race

Every team in the race, in both IMOCA and VO65 classes, will be required to have female sailors on board through various crew configuration options.

“These rules will ensure opportunities for the best athletes in the sport of sailing to take part in our event,” said Richard Brisius, the President of the race organising body. “At the same time, we are opening a wider door for sailors to compete in one of our sport’s pinnacle events earlier in life through the Youth Challenge Trophy.


“We are also committed to further developing the ground-breaking sustainability programme launched in the last edition of the race. Sustainability guidelines will be issued to all teams, stopover cities and stakeholders as we build on the strong foundation laid over the past several years.”

The switch to the foiling IMOCA 60 class adds a high-performance and design aspect to the race after the last two editions of one-design racing, where all boats were identical. This shift means the teams will be pushing the envelope of technology with boats that foil above the water at extremely high speeds.

© Volvo Ocean Race

“Historically, design and performance breakthroughs have been an important component of success in this race since 1973,” said co-President Johan Salén. “The IMOCA 60 class is at the cutting edge of technology for offshore monohulls and the sailors and designers will be chasing every technical advantage they can find.”

As the race evolves to its next iteration its power to inspire is as great as ever.

“Our sport is unique as our athletes compete not just against each other but the race takes our crews to some of the most remote places in the world,” Brisius noted. “Our sailors place their competitive pride on their line and form life-long bonds through the experiences they share and the challenges they meet together. The athletes in our sport have a determination and belief in each other that transcends sport and speaks to all of us.”

Getting that story off the boat and to the race fans will once again fall to the role of the on board reporter, who will be on each boat, tasked with bringing the story home in video, photos, audio and text.

The release of the first version of the Preliminary Notice of Race is another step in defining the 2021 edition of the race. Consultation with key stakeholders is welcomed before opening for entries in December.

“This marks the first of many steps in our new journey to create a great opportunity for our IMOCA sailors. We look forward to continuing our work with the race organisers to build a fantastic event,” said Antoine Mermod, the President of IMOCA.

Over the coming weeks and months, more information will be released, including details on the race route, the IMOCA class rule for fully crewed races, and new sustainability initiatives that build on the award-winning programme introduced in the last race.

The Preliminary Notice of Race is available on request by emailing: 

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‘It’s a great opportunity’


Ahead of the start of the 2018 Route du Rhum, we headed to Lorient, France to catch up with Volvo Ocean Race winner Jérémie Beyou. Having finished third in the 2016 Vendée Globe, he knows the IMOCA class well – and gives his insight into the new boats which will content the 2021 race.

Hi Jérémie. Talk us through this new IMOCA boat, and how it varies to your experience on the Volvo Ocean 65.

Yes, these boats are quite different compared to the Volvo Ocean 65. It’s a different way of sailing, and I think you sail more like you’re on a multihull compared to a mono. You have to be able to manage it – you don’t have to push hard all the time, you have to take care of the boat and watch the data and loads on the boat. Those of us who sail in the IMOCA class regularly understand this, so maybe we can do the next Race as a crew. After developing these boats, we know the rules very well, so I can imagine collaboration between teams who are already sailing in this class ahead of the next Race.

You just won the Volvo Ocean Race as part of a mixed Dongfeng crew – how would a fully-crewed setup work on these boats?

Sailing with five people on these boats is really nice. We do it sometimes, during deliveries and small races. It’s a good size and because it's so difficult to sail the boat alone, having five people onboard means you can push the boat to its limits and focus 100% on performance all the time, which you can’t really do on your own. But it also means when you’re sailing five rather than nine or 10 in a usual Volvo Ocean Race boat, all the sailors onboard must be multi-skilled. It’s key that the same person can be a trimmer, a driver, a bowman, and be able to do the strategy, so it’s like sailing with five solo sailors onboard rather than a traditional crew.

© Austin Wong

How much conversion would need to be done to make this boat capable of racing with a full crew onboard?

I think it's mainly a question of living onboard. The inside of the boat would need to be adapted for five people. That’s the bunks and kitchen, for a start. And of course the cockpit too. We really designed Charal for solo sailing, so the cockpit would need to be very different. After that, the big difference will be on the hull design and the foil design, depending on the course of the race. If it’s the same stopovers as in 2017-18, then you have a lot of time upwind, a lot of light wind spots. Charal is a boat designed for the Vendée Globe, which is broad reaching and downwind in strong winds only, so it’s not currently an ideal design for the next Race. I think that seven boats in the next Race isn’t enough, we need between 10 and 15 boats to have the perfect number – so if every team can’t build a new boat, it’d be interesting to have some boats coming over from the Vendée.

© Austin Wong

Do you think that the collaboration between the Race and IMOCA is a positive move for the sport, and sponsorship?

Yes. In my case, Charal is a very French company, so right now doesn’t have a lot of interest in international markets and round-the-world racing, but our team, Charal Sailing, definitely has an interest in that. I do think the IMOCA class needs more international sailors. We have Alex Thomson who is the only non-French guy who is realistically able to win the Vendée Globe, but as well as Alex, we need a Stu Bannatyne, Daryl Wislang, and other new guys from the US. I think the connection between the two races is positive and will help develop the market for IMOCA, and it’s a great opportunity.

The 2018 Route du Rhum begins on 4 November 2018. You can follow the action here.

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Sustainability programme wins awards


At the prestigious international Beyond Sport Awards, in New York, the programme won in ‘The Best Corporate Campaign or Initiative in Sport for Good’ category.

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 and used robust scientific research.

Working to promote the UN Clean Seas campaign and through a range of communication channels the message reached millions of people during stopovers and many more through media and online platforms.

© Brian Carlin/Volvo Ocean Race

Meanwhile, in Boston, the New England Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected the race’s Newport Stopover Team to receive an Environmental Merit Award in recognition of the race’s exceptional work and commitment to the environment.

Anne-Cecile Turner, Sustainability Programme Leader, said: “We set out with the ambition to engender positive behaviour change to tackle the plastic crisis affecting our oceans. As a global sporting event we have minimised our own footprint and educated and empowered the millions of people the race touched.

“By working with a range of supportive and inspirational partners we were able to realise our ambitions and leave a lasting legacy for ocean health and are thrilled this has been recognised by Beyond Sport and the EPA.

"We will continue to lead, inspire and engage through an even stronger programme, combining sailing and innovation platforms to create real and tangible impacts for ocean preservation.” 

The programme saw the race work in partnership with Founding Principal Sustainability Partner 11th Hour Racing, Principal Partner the Mirpuri Foundation and the UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign.

Todd McGuire, 11th Hour Racing Program Director, commented: "Being shortlisted for the Beyond Sport Awards is an incredible recognition and honour. We wish to congratulate Volvo Ocean Race for their outstanding work and for successfully implementing such a powerful campaign to promote positive change. We believe in the power of sport, and much like brands have used sport to market their products, we see this arena as a unique opportunity to gather large crowds around environmental issues.”

Working with our other main partners, Volvo, AkzoNobel, Bluewater, Stena Recycling and Ocean Family Foundation, the programme aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Volvo Ocean Race enabled us to showcase in real-life at each Volvo Ocean Race stopover how Bluewater is already today turning words into action to deliver sustainable drinking water to people and businesses in heartily populated urban environments regardless of the quality of the water source," said Anders Jacobson, President and chief strategy officer at Bluewater.

© Yu Chun Christopher Wong/Power Sport Images

To advance science by combining it with sailing, an expert scientific consortium, funded by Volvo Cars, used cutting edge technology to build state of the art equipment that would capture the most relevant ocean data.

Stuart Templar, Vice President, Internal Communications & Sustainability, Volvo Cars, said: “Volvo Cars is delighted that the Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme has been recognised by the Beyond Sports Awards.  We’re proud to have supported the Programme and help promote understanding, awareness and action on the global problem of marine plastic pollution.

“It’s also encouraged us to make strong commitments including removing single use plastic from our restaurants, events and offices, as well as aiming to ensure that from 2025 at least 25% of the plastic in newly launched Volvo will contain recycled material.  The Volvo Ocean Race has set the standard for other major sporting events to follow in terms of practicing and promoting sustainability. We look forward to supporting the further development of the Sustainability Programme.”

The Turn the Tide on Plastic boat, supported by Sky Ocean Rescue, alongside Team AkzoNobel’s boat, collected seawater samples that were tested by race scientists for microplastics as well as levels of salinity, dissolved CO2 and algae. The findings were uploaded ‘open source’ to benefit scientific understanding of the plastic threat.

Convening a series of Ocean Summits and workshops, at key host cities, the problems linked to our seas were discussed by key influencers, such as politicians, scientists and business leaders, and innovative solutions proposed to shift current thinking and drive action.

Paulo Mirpuri, President and Founder of the Mirpuri Foundation, said: “We are extremely proud of the great work developed by our team over the last 12 month and its huge impact to tackle the horrific plastic problem that is challenging our oceans.  The Beyond Sport Award honours both the Volvo Ocean Race and the Mirpuri Foundation sustainability teams.”

Lisa Emelia Svensson, Director for Ocean, at the UN Environment, added: "This award shows what we can achieve together. Sport is an fantastic way to engage people all over the work across sectors, culture and genders.

"We will build on this achievement and continue with our innovative partnership to drive action and real change."

The annual Merit Award, presented in Boston, recognises outstanding environmental advocates who have made significant contributions toward preserving and protecting our natural resources. 

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