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The Ocean Race Uses Cutting-Edge Science Equipment to Step Up Its Environmental Role

30th October 2020
11th Hour Racing Team crossing the North Atlantic in August 11th Hour Racing Team crossing the North Atlantic in August Photo: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing

The 2022-23 edition of The Ocean Race is set to mark a sea change in its commitment to the environment by expanding the gathering of scientific data across the fleet.

On a recent transatlantic crossing by 11th Hour Racing Team — captained by Cork sailor James O’Mahony, with race veteran Damian Foxall as sustainability programme manager — high-quality oceanographic data was relayed ashore in real-time to improve models and predictions on ocean health and climate.

During the August voyage the boat’s crew used an onboard OceanPack — a device which records essential ocean data including surface temperature, salinity and dissolved CO2 — to sample seawater on a continuous basis and transmit the data live, rather than on arrival in port as in the last edition of the race.

The crew aboard the IMOCA 60 racing yacht also deployed a Drifter Buoy on the passage from France to Rhode Island in a target area where there is a gap in buoy coverage, for long-term real-time monitoring of ocean conditions.

“We want to build on the amazing success of our award-winning Sustainability Programme during the 2017-18 edition, which led the way in terms of offshore ocean data collection by a sailing event,” said Anne-Cécile Turner, The Ocean Race’s sustainability director.

“Everything we are doing under our new Racing with Purpose initiative, which has been developed in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing — our founding sustainability partner as well as the premier partner of the race — is aimed at taking that legacy and accelerating action to improve ocean health.”

She added: “The new and pioneering scientific equipment, now 30% lighter and 20% more energy efficient, is yet another example of the innovative record of onboard instrumentation.

“And, paired with the fact that teams on The Ocean Race go deep into some of the most remote areas on the planet like the Southern Ocean, it means that we are again in a unique position to contribute, this time to gather real-time scientific data to help inform decision making.”

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