Living on the Edge

Last Thursday, Sailors for the Sea board chairman, David Rockefeller, Jr. kicked off an exciting event Living on the Edge: The Atlantic Cup presents Coastal Communities & Climate Change.


The evening celebrated The Atlantic Cup, a two-time gold level Clean Regatta and the first carbon neutral sailing race in the United States. David noted, in his opening remarks: “Of course, sailors are natural supporters of the environment. That’s why we do it, that’s what we love, but we’re not always aware of the problems under the hull, and we know that with the help of events like the Atlantic Cup, we can galvanize sailors, in particular, into action to protect our oceans.

The Atlantic Cup is environmentally forward-thinking, and a truly unique race.  Boats use alternative energy including hydro-generators, fuel cells and solar panels. Another great fact is that no single use plastic water bottles are used at any time during the race!


The panel entitled “Telltales” was moderated by Global Green USA’s President Matt Petersen (far right) and discussed climate change at the convergence of land and water. Panelists from left to right included: Chip Giller, President and Founder of, Hannah Jenner, skipper for 40 Degrees Racing, and Dr. Ben Strauss the Chief Operating Officer and Director on Sea Level Rise for Climate Central. We have pulled a few highlights from the evenings discussion – we hope you enjoy!.

Dr. Ben Strauss made the point that storms are like a pot of water, as you increase the heat, the pot goes to a rolling boil. We currently have a similar situation with the oceans. The increased ocean temperatures are like turning up the heat on the stove and we are seeing more powerful storms. This clearly will have an affect on boaters around the world.

Hannah Jenner noted how she felt sailors are an important part of environmentalist movement stating: “We not only see the storms, up front, in your face, we also see the trash…plastics floating past and oil slicks coming off of ships passing, and it’s upsetting.

Chip Giller noted: “It all is very grim, but I just want to say, this discussion wouldn’t have been happening 10 years ago. And it’s a testament to Sailors for the Sea and others to keep the battles going so we really can’t give up hope.” He also noted that sailors can make a difference by looking at their own boats: “it’s a place where you guys are already adapting, thinking about how to make do with less and being really efficient, and I think there could be some cross-pollination in terms of the adaptation discussions. I think you should all make sure that you are members of Sailors for the Sea. I think there are ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Those are the practical things.

Matt Peterson ended the panel encouraging people to: “reclaim your role as citizens, become a citizen entrepreneur, unleash your crazy ideas as you try to take responsibility for your little corner of the world, on the ocean, or if it’s your twitter account, using whatever channels you have, what ever communities you are part of, to be a part of turning it all around!


Northeast Regional Planning Body

Do you sail or boat in New England? The Northeast Regional Planning Body needs you!

SailNewEnglandThe Northeast Regional Planning Body (a group working on National Ocean Policy in New England) will be holding public meetings for feedback on the draft regional ocean planning goals and associated potential actions. These meetings are for stakeholders and users of New England waterways. (Sailors & Boaters this is you!)

These meetings will also be an opportunity to review draft maps created to show the natural resources and diverse uses of the ocean. Public comment will be taken at these meetings, and if you are not available to attend but wish to provide input, the public comment the deadline is June 28, 2013.

These public meetings will be held in May and June as follows:

May 23, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Portland, ME
May 28, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Narragansett, RI
June 3, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Ellsworth, ME
June 4, 5:30 to 8:30 PM Rockland, ME
June 6, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Boston, MA
June 13, 4:00 to 7:00 PM New Haven, CT
June 17, 4:00 to 7:00 PM New Bedford, MA
June 18, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Gloucester, MA
June 19, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Barnstable, MA
June 25, 4:00 to 7:00 PM Portsmouth, NH

For additional information about these meetings and how to provide public comment visit:

Clean Regattas reach Mexico!

The whales are excited for Clean Regattas in Mexico too! Photo from: WesMex Regatta

The whales are excited for Clean Regattas in Mexico too! Photo from: WesMex Regatta

This spring, the first Clean Regatta in Mexico was held at the Vallarta Yacht Club! The 8th edition of the WesMex International Small Boat Regatta achieved bronze level certification.

Regatta organizers implemented a few simple changes that helped them run a more environmentally friendly regatta. This included:

  • Increasing trash & recycling bins around the facilities.
  • Encouraged participants to do their registration online.
  • Educated Sailors about Clean Regattas.
  • When printing was necessary they used only recycled paper.

    Simple, homemade trash bins help keep the regattas clean!

    Simple, homemade trash bins help keep the regattas clean!

  • A Green Team of local student volunteered to collect trash around the perimeter of the Club.
  • Re-used zip lock lunch bags.
  • Provided sailors with refillable water bottles and set up 6 cold water stations around the Club. Preventing the use of 1,583 plastic bottles (600 ml bottles)!

These small steps add up to make a big difference and we are very excited for the expansion of Clean Regattas to Mexico!

Trash removal in Naples

As The Official Partner Clean Regattas partner of the 34th America’s Cup, we have worked closely with race organizers to build sustainability and ocean conservation Best Management Practices into every aspect of their operations.

In Naples, long before the first teams arrived, the local organizing committee was already running beach cleanups at the Naples waterfront. Plastic buckets, nets, and even boat hulls littered the beaches in the Port of Naples. The photos below showcase the effort put in by the local organizing committee volunteers, and Sailors for the Sea staff prior to and during the regatta. The Clean Regattas certification for ACWS Naples is  being reviewed to see which level of certification was met – look for an announcement in the near future. To learn more about the America’s Cup commitment to Clean Regattas read this months Ocean Watch Essay.

We are excited to note that our Clean Regattas program will be implemented again in Italy this year at the Velle Nel Parco regatta, which is aiming to be certified at the bronze level!

Antigua Sailing Week!

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 2.29.05 PMThis weekend kicks off Antigua Sailing Week! This year race organizers have teamed up with a local organization, The Environmental Awareness Group of Antigua & Barbuda to help them run Clean Regattas. The event organizers are aiming for Bronze Level Clean Regatta certification by implementing 6 of our Clean Regattas Best Practices. This includes:

  • Water Bottle Reduction
  • Trash Free Regatta
  • No Discharge of  sewage
  • Encouraging use of Alternative Fuels
  • Recycling
  • Reducing Bottom cleaning to reduce bottom paint leeching

Race organizers have also done an excellent job encouraging those racing to join the cause. To learn more, click here.

Earth Day

Today marks the 43rd Earth Day and this year the focus is: Face of Climate Change. Since 71% of the earth is covered by the ocean – let’s take a quick look at what climate change is doing to our oceans.


Ocean Acidification
Did you know the ocean absorbs a lot carbon dioxide? In fact the daily intake is approximately 22 million metric tons. If you guessed that this is creating a problem, you are correct.  Often nicknamed “global warming’s evil twin,” ocean acidification is the changing of the pH balance of the ocean. The fundamental changes in seawater chemistry occurring throughout the world’s oceans is drawing more attention. An important case study on the effects of ocean acidification can be seen in the Pacific Northwest oyster hatcheries, which in the past few years had serious decline in production in an industry that accounts for more than $84 million of the West Coast shellfish industry and supports more than 3,000 jobs. Learn more about ocean acidification and how scientist and fisherman are working together to be able to keep the oyster industry running. Also read our past ocean watch essay on Ocean Acidification.

Coral Bleaching
Climate change impacts have been identified as one of the greatest global threats to coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise on land, our sea temperatures also get warmer. Particularly in tropic zones this has caused coral bleaching to become an all to common occurrence. When water becomes too warm, corals will expel the algae living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white.  When a coral bleaches, it is not dead, however they are under more stress and are subject to mortality. To learn more about coral reef’s in crisis, visit and read our past Ocean Watch Essay, Assessing the Health of Coral Reefs.

What can you do?
While these problems can be daunting, an easy way to help reduce climate change is reducing your carbon footprint! Asses your carbon footprint and learn how you can help make a difference!

Newport Energy & Environment Commission

NEEC logo jpegWe have partnered with the Newport Energy & Environment Commission (NEEC) – to help support their efforts in making Newport, RI a sustainable event destination. The NEEC provides a comprehensive checklist and plan for many kinds of events (music festivals, conferences etc.) to be run in a sustainable manner. This week, the commission has posted their resources online! Our program director, Annie Brett worked with the commission on this plan – which also recommends that all events at sea (quite a few in the ocean state!) use the Sailors for the Sea Clean Regattas Program.

Additionally, on April 30 the Rhode Island Senate will pass a resolution commending the commission for their hard work! Click here to learn more about the commission – and view their plans.


Moth North American Championship

Moth_North_AmericasThe 2013 Gorilla Rigging Moth North American Championship was held this past weekend in Charleston, SC. Regatta organizers and sailors worked hard to achieve a Bronze Level Clean Regatta certification by meeting 5 of our Clean Regatta Best Practices.

This fun and exciting sailing class actually moved their winter series from Miami to Charleston this year based on the problem of running over plastic bags in Miami. Plastic bags, often mistaken by turtles as jellyfish, also cause big problems for Moths; generally causing them to flip and loose the race. Other rather gruesome face cuts and bruises resulted from plastic bags as well. Learn more about the damages to the Moth fleet by the  bag fish in our past blog post: Plastic Pollution: Have you caught a bag fish lately?

Sailors were happy to report that no one ran over any trash during the regatta and they even held a beach clean up to ensure the beautiful Cooper River stays clean for years to come! Congrats to the sailors and their new US Class Sponsor, our partner 11th Hour Racing for working hard to make this an environmentally friendly regatta. Watch the video below to see the moth sailors in action.

Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems

A Global Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems


This map, created by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, is just an impressive (or scary) way to look at the ocean. Created back in 2008, we are wondering how much more red there would be on the map – and would there be any blue left? What do you think?

To learn more about how the map was made, click here.

Gold for BVI Spring Regatta!

Pictured: Simon Potter, (Managing Director, RTW), Judy Petz (Regatta Director), Dan Pingaro (CEO) & Annie Brett, Sailors for the Seas, Governor Boyd McCleary, Abby O'Neal Green VI (Board of Directors), Jacob Barron, Master Glassbower, Green VI

Pictured: Simon Potter, (Managing Director, RTW), Judy Petz (Regatta Director), Dan Pingaro (CEO) & Annie Brett, Sailors for the Seas, Governor Boyd McCleary, Abby O’Neal Green VI (Board of Directors), Jacob Barron, Master Glassbower, Green VI

The BVI Spring Regatta just finished another great Clean Regatta! Last year the event was the first ever Gold Level Clean Regatta outside of the United States. One of the major accomplishment that year was offsetting the regattas carbon footprint. This was done in thanks to race participants and Heineken supporting local recycling initiatives through GreenVI.

This year, the BVI Spring Regatta continued their strong record and earned Gold certification again. Some of the Best Practices implemented include:

Glass is collected separately and recycled at the Green VI glass blowing studio.

Glass is collected separately and recycled at the Green VI glass blowing studio.

  • Distributing reusable water bottles to race participants and placing free water stations throughout the venue (No small feat in the Caribbean)
  • The Green Rangers, a large and enthusiastic green team made up of local youth, keeping the event site free of debris
  • Working with Green VI to recycle glass and aluminum
  • Placing oil spill kits in all motorized vessels
  • Electronic registration systems and TV screens to display race results (A major paper reducer!)
  • Biodegradable cups and utensils at the bar and food vendors
  • Notice to participants emphasizing gray water reduction, conducting maintenance in contained locations, not cleaning hulls in sensitive harbor areas and using shore facilities to prevent blackwater discharge
  • Food vendors collected food waste in buckets to be given to local pigs.
  • Non-toxic cleaning products used and promoted to competitors
Pigs! - A creative composting option.

Pigs! – A creative composting solution.

We continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of the BVI Spring Regatta and it’s sponsors, and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future to promote ocean conservation in the Caribbean.