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The Ocean Race has taken the top prize in the sustainability category of the 2023 International Sports Awards, hosted by the International Sports Convention.

The award recognises the efforts of the race’s Racing with Purpose initiative, which was created with premier partner 11th Hour Racing to put ocean protection at the heart of the round-the-world sailing competition.

11th Hour Racing has a number of Irish connections. Two Kerry women are working on the Racing with Purpose programme: senior advisor is marine biologist Lucy Hunt, founder of the Sea Synergy marine awareness research and activity centre based in Waterville and Cahersiveen, while Rebecca White of Portmagee is an advisor on the learning programme, which is shortlisted for its own sustainability prize next week at the Reimagine Education Awards. And Kerry offshore racing veteran Damian Foxall is sustainability programme manager of 11th Hour Racing Team, the winning IMOCA in the latest edition of The Ocean Race.

Hosting an event that was as sustainable as possible was imperative in the race’s goals for its 2022-23 edition. Through a series of measures, the race reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 75% compared with the previous edition.

It was also powered entirely by renewable energy, and the race’s plastic footprint was measured in a first for any major sporting event.

Inspiring the next generation is also a key element of Racing with Purpose, with learning programmes in host cities via on-the-ground workshops.

Richard Brisius, race chairman at The Ocean Race said: “Sport has the potential to unify, educate and inspire in ways that can make a meaningful difference. For The Ocean Race, we’ve used our platform and created new opportunities to reach as many audiences as possible, from fans and children to business leaders and heads of state, in order to accelerate action to protect the planet.

“We’re delighted that our efforts have been recognised by the International Sports Awards. It is thanks to the unprecedented spirit of collaboration with our fantastic network of sailing teams, host cities, partners, stakeholders and many other ocean advocates during this edition of the Race that our Racing with Purpose sustainability programme has been able to create such impact.

“And last, but definitely not least, it is thanks to the relentless dedication, expertise and hard work by The Ocean Race team.”

The International Sports Awards take place each year to celebrate “the finest sports work in the world”. The Sustainability Award trophy will be presented at the International Sports Convention which takes place in London from 20-21 March 2024.

This article was updated on Friday 8 December to clarify that Damian Foxall is sustainability manager of 11th Hour Racing Team, not the title sponsor 11th Hour Racing, and to add other Irish connections.

Published in Ocean Race

The Ocean Race is at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, aka COP28, to call for the ocean to be a key consideration in the vital climate negotiations and to highlight how sport and business can help to make a positive difference for the planet.

The international summit, which started Thursday (30 November) in Dubai, brings together world leaders to work on solutions to tackle climate change.

While representatives from member countries determine ambition and responsibilities, and identify and assess climate measures, the event is also attended by business leaders, NGOs and the public, to share solutions and accelerate action.

At COP28, The Ocean Race will leverage its experience working in the public and private sphere to call for greater efforts to protect the ocean, highlighting the ocean’s role as both a victim of the damaging impacts of climate change and a climate hero that locks away the majority of heat and carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres receives the Relay4Nature Baton at The Ocean Race Summit Cabo Verde on 23 January 2023 | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean RaceUN Secretary-General António Guterres receives the Relay4Nature Baton at The Ocean Race Summit Cabo Verde on 23 January 2023 | Credit: Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race

The race’s organisers will also share how it is reducing its own emissions and highlight its initiatives to inspire action for the climate and ocean, including:

Gathering data about the health of the ocean: During The Ocean Race 2022-23 over four million measurements across 18 types of environmental data were collected by teams as they raced-around-the-world. At COP28, race chairman Richard Brisius will talk about the race’s science programme in an Ocean Climate Spotlight session organised by IOC-UNESCO and OceanX. The event will dive into the different types of data that were collected — including key indicators of climate change such as water temperature, dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide — and how it is analysed by 14 leading science organisations before feeding into reports about the state of the planet.

Driving support for ocean rights: The Ocean Race held an ‘Ocean-Climate High-Level Reception’ with IUCN, the Ocean-Climate Platform and the UN Climate Change High Level Champions in one of the first ocean-focused events at COP28. The Ocean Race discussed its ambitious aim to help secure a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights by 2030, which would put in place a global approach to protecting our blue planet with the ocean’s right to thrive at its heart. The event builds on The Ocean Race Summits — a series of events held on four continents focused on ocean rights, which culminated in a special event at UN headquarters during the General Assembly in September.

Slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 75%: A number of measures, including sourcing all power from renewable energy, reducing the number of staff travelling internationally and drastically reducing the number of shipping containers used in the global event, led to The Ocean Race 2022-23 producing 75% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) compared with the previous edition of the race.

Urging increased action to protect and restore the ocean: Nature’s Baton, the symbol of Relay4Nature — an initiative from The Ocean Race and UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson — will take centre stage at COP28, calling for urgent ocean action. During the lead up to the 2023 race, Nature’s Baton visited 10 intergovernmental conferences advocating for the ocean and was held by global leaders, before sailing around the planet in The Ocean Race 2022-23. It then brought the messages from all that held it, to the UN General Assembly in a special event in New York in September 2023.

Engaging children around climate change and the ocean: The Ocean Race’s learning programmes have been created to help young people understand the importance of protecting the ocean. Set against the backdrop of the action-packed race, the materials, which are free and available in multiple languages, explain how the ocean is connected to the climate and crucial to all life on Earth.

Data revealing insights into the health of the ocean will be collected from remote areas of Antarctica over the next two-plus months | Credit: henrique setim/UnsplashData revealing insights into the health of the ocean will be collected from remote areas of Antarctica over the next two-plus months | Credit: henrique setim/Unsplash

Richard Brisius, race chairman at The Ocean Race will represent the organisation at COP28. As well as supporting key initiatives such as the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration, the World Economic Forum Friends of Ocean Action (of which he is a member) and highlighting how the race is taking action, he will meet business leaders and policy makers to drive support for ocean rights and develop collaborations.

Brisius said: “We need world leaders to recognise the critical role of the ocean and put it at the heart of the agenda at COP28. But we know sports and business can make a difference too. Teamwork is essential to The Ocean Race, our efforts to protect the planet are only possible because of the fantastic network of teams, host cities, partners, stakeholders and many other ocean advocates that we join forces with to make a meaningful difference.

“By spotlighting some of our initiatives, we hope to inspire other sports and businesses to use their platforms and take action as well. We need all hands on deck to fight the climate crisis.”

The Dubai summit is the third consecutive UN Climate Change Conference that The Ocean Race has taken part in. The work to drive action to protect the ocean is at the heart of the Racing with Purpose sustainability programme, which was created in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing.

As a key pillar of Racing with Purpose, the science programme has been extended beyond the race itself in order to continue the collection of vital ocean data between events. The Ocean Race is providing expert support and science equipment to teams in other competitions (including the recent Transat Jacques Vabre), along with expeditions that go to parts of the planet where little or no data has previously been gathered.

Antarctic veteran and sailor Stephen Wilkins, who has visited the region 22 times, will be in charge of gathering the data and samples during a unique four-month expedition on a sailing yacht specifically designed for polar conditions | Credit: Rick Tomlinson/The Ocean RaceAntarctic veteran and sailor Stephen Wilkins, who has visited the region 22 times, will be in charge of gathering the data and samples during a unique four-month expedition on a sailing yacht specifically designed for polar conditions | Credit: Rick Tomlinson/The Ocean Race

Earlier this week, The Ocean Race announced it is driving an Antarctic science mission in which vital data about the health of the ocean will be gathered at the southern fringes of the planet including remote locations south of 70 degrees.

As well as gathering data on key indicators of climate change, water samples will be collected and examined for tiny microplastics (down to 30 microns in size), a level of analysis that has never been done before in Antarctica, marking a significant opportunity to improve knowledge of the extent of plastic pollution in this remote region.

This comes at a time when Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres has warned about the importance of protecting Antarctica, ahead of the start of the critical COP28 negotiations. The region is of particular significance to The Ocean Race, with teams sailing through the Southern Ocean and around Antarctica for 50 years and experiencing firsthand the changes taking place.

Published in Ocean Race
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The Ocean Race 2022-23-winning 11th Hour Racing was named Team of the Year at the World Sailing Awards ceremony in Málaga, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

And skipper Charlie Enright was on hand to pick up the prize on Tuesday evening (14 November).

From January to July of this year, Enright led his 11th Hour Racing Team to a come-from-behind victory in The Ocean Race, demonstrating remarkable resilience and fortitude over the toughest fully crewed offshore race in the world.

For Enright, the victory was truly a team effort. “Winning this race has been such an achievement for the entire team,” he told the crowd at a homecoming event in Newport, Rhode Island this past summer.

“We went through the first half of the race not winning a leg and then...we won Leg 4 into our hometown of Newport. This was a turning point for us in the race and the momentum stayed with us right through to the final victory.”

Among the other deserving winners on the evening, were The Magenta Project, which was recognised with the World Sailing 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award.

The Magenta Project was born out of the Team SCA campaign in the 2014-15 edition of The Ocean Race and advocates for gender diversity across the sailing industry through mentoring, events and governance.

Published in Ocean Race

A three-part TV documentary featuring a deep dive into the lives of the sailors and teams competing in The Ocean Race 2022-23 is now streaming on discovery+ and the Eurosport app.

A Voyage of Discovery: The Ocean Race follows key sailors from the five IMOCA teams racing around the world, including the skipper of the winning 11th Hour Racing Team, American sailor Charlie Enright.

Viewers are taken behind the scenes and given an all-access pass to live the drama of the toughest fully crewed race in the world, experiencing all of the highs and lows as the best sailors in the world take on this iconic offshore challenge.

All five race teams feature in the documentary, which takes a close look at the event through the lived experience of four sailors including Enright, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe crew member Annie Lush, Biotherm skipper Paul Meilhat and Team Malizia co-skipper Rosalin Kuiper.

“I’m super excited about the documentary,” said Kuiper. “It was very special to be part of it and I shared my feelings and thoughts with the producers like I would with my family and that was special. I’m excited to see it as I had no filter and really shared everything from my heart.

“It’s a really cool way to go behind the scenes and dive into a sailor’s brain. I hope we can continue this in the future, to allow us to show the human adventure in addition to the sporting side.”

A Voyage of Discovery: The Ocean Race is the latest television output from the 50th anniversary edition of The Ocean Race, which started in Alicante, Spain on 15 January this year and finished at the Grand Finale in Genoa, Italy on 30 June.

A Voyage of Discovery: The Ocean Race was broadcast exclusively in three parts across Europe at Friday 3, Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 November on Eurosport’s channels. Streaming of all three episodes is available on discovery+ and the Eurosport app in Europe, and Eurosport Extra in Poland.

The three-part series was produced and directed by Robert Bevan and edited by Steven Douglas Blake for Warner Bros Discovery.

Published in Maritime TV

The Ocean Race is supporting Team Nexans – Art et Fenêtres (II) in the collection of vital ocean data during the Transat Jacques Vabre, which sets sail this weekend from Le Havre in Normandy.

Following The Ocean Race 2022-23, in which over four million pieces of data were gathered, the round-the-world regatta is providing an OceanPack to the French-flagged team for the race to Martinique.

The OceanPack is a specialised instrument with multiple sensors that measure a range of data about the ocean to provide crucial insights into the health of the marine environment.

The equipment works by drawing up water through the hull and into the instrument, where it measures oxygen, carbon dioxide, salinity, water temperature and atmospheric pressure. It operates automatically and continuously, taking around 25,000 measurements a day.

Stefan Raimund, ocean science advisor at The Ocean Race said: “This year’s unprecedented ocean temperatures have set off alarm bells across the world. The more data that scientists have about temperatures and other essential ocean variables, the more accurately we can understand the ocean’s capacity to cope with climate change and predict what will happen to the climate in future.

“We’re pleased to have joined forces with Team Nexans – Art et Fenêtres (II), to continue contributing to this important research. Between editions of The Ocean Race, we will provide scientific equipment and support to teams, organisations and expeditions who share our desire to drive action for the ocean.”

The OceanPack is a specialised instrument with multiple sensors that measure a range of types of data about the ocean | Credit: Cherie Bridges/The Ocean RaceThe OceanPack is a specialised instrument with multiple sensors that measure a range of types of data about the ocean | Credit: Cherie Bridges/The Ocean Race

Team Nexans – Art et Fenêtres (II), which is skippered by Fabrice Amedeo and co-skipper Andreas Baden, has been involved in the collection of scientific data since 2019. Fabrice lost his boat — and his scientific instruments — in heavy seas during the last Route Du Rhum and is now competing again with a new boat.

Amedeo said: “The return to the open sea and racing is synonymous with the redeployment of my oceanographic project, thanks to the installation of The Ocean Race’s OceanPack. This sensor measures CO2, salinity and ocean temperature, enabling scientists to better understand the consequences of global warming on the ocean. I am happy to provide the scientific community with such important data.”

The data gathered by the team, on the race to the Caribbean and the return journey back to France, will be analysed by The Ocean Race’s science partners: GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany), Ifremer (France) and CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) (France). These organisations will use the data as part of their research on the impact of climate change on the marine environment and to inform predictions about how the ocean will respond to climate change in future.

The Ocean Race’s science programme is part of the Racing with Purpose sustainability programme, which was created with premier partner 11th Hour Racing. The race is the only team sport in the world that requires all participants to take part in the collection of vital ocean data. Earlier this year The Ocean Race launched a dedicated data visualisation platform for exploring the data at theoceanracescience.com.

Cabo Verde and The Ocean Race have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that could see the island archipelago host stopovers and future meetings of The Ocean Race Summits in partnership with the iconic around the world sailing event.

The MOU would see The Ocean Race Summits — a congress of change-makers from across government, industry, NGOs and the scientific community — return to Cabo Verde, as well as the racing fleet during the next around the world races.

The arrangement was announced in New York on Monday (18 September) by Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, who was participating in the latest The Ocean Race Summit by tabling a proposal to the General Assembly of the United Nations on Ocean Rights.

“Cabo Verde and The Ocean Race have established a special partnership through the signing of an MOU today. This collaboration is designed to promote the Rights of the Ocean, the Ocean Science programme, the blue economy and Cabo Verde as a tourist destination in water sports and eco-tourism,” the Prime Minister said at The Ocean Race Summit, as Cabo Verde leads the charge on this critical diplomatic path forward to restoring ocean health.

“In Cabo Verde we have a partner who is pushing forward at the leading edge of a movement and shares our vision that sport can play a role in protecting the ocean,” said Richard Brisius, race chairman of The Ocean Race.

“In January of this year we hosted a very successful edition of The Ocean Race Summit in Cabo Verde and together with Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva, we welcomed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss the importance of Ocean Rights as a way to protect and restore health of the ocean.

The Ocean Race Summits presents Ocean Rights in the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday 18 September. From left: Tania Romualdo, Permanent Representative of Cabo Verde to the UN; Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde; and Richard Brisius, race chairman of The Ocean Race | Credit: Cherie Bridges/The Ocean RaceThe Ocean Race Summits presents Ocean Rights in the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Monday 18 September. From left: Tania Romualdo, Permanent Representative of Cabo Verde to the UN; Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde; and Richard Brisius, race chairman of The Ocean Race | Credit: Cherie Bridges/The Ocean Race

“This week we have taken another step on that journey with the introduction of Ocean Rights at the United Nations. This is the first step towards a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights, in Cabo Verde, and in Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva we have a steadfast partner to join us on this mission in a way that will benefit all stakeholders of the race.”

Working towards a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights is part of The Ocean Race’s multi-award winning Racing with Purpose sustainability programme developed in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing, a premier partner of The Ocean Race.

The islands of Cabo Verde have long been a tactical landmark for sailors competing in The Ocean Race, who have historically needed to decide whether to weave between the islands, or to avoid the potential wind shadows by giving the archipelago a wide berth.

The 2023 race was the first time the race made a stop in Mindelo, Cabo Verde and the stopover was hailed as a great success, with over 70,000 visitors to Ocean Live Park and over 2,200 school children taking part at in-person educational workshops. The Ocean Race Summit in Mindelo had 344 participants and 40 international media covering the event.

The 14th edition of The Ocean Race finished in July in Genoa, Italy with 11th Hour Racing Team (USA) as the winning team. As part of a 10-year plan, the next two editions of the around the world race will take place in 2026-27 and 2030-31, while The Ocean Race Europe will take place in August-September of 2025 and again in 2029.

Published in Ocean Race

Environmental DNA, known as eDNA — one of the most cutting-edge ways to measure ocean health and biodiversity — was collected during The Ocean Race 2022-23 in a world first for racing boats.

11th Hour Racing Team, winners of the six-month long round-the-world race, took samples during the 5,550-nautical-mile Leg 4 from Itajai in Brazil to Newport in Rhode Island, USA in a pioneering initiative of The Ocean Race’s science programme, which aims to support understanding about the state of the seas.

Twenty-seven water samples were gathered between 23 April and 10 May this year and later analysed by the Cawthron Institute, New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation. Each sample included genetic material contained in microbes or shed by thousands of marine species through their waste products and skin cells.

Analysis of this eDNA gives a comprehensive snapshot of the presence and diversity of these species with high accuracy. These data are valuable for a number of reasons, including helping to track endangered species, monitoring diseases and pathogens. And when samples are compared over time, eDNA can provide insights into how the climate crisis is affecting marine life, for example, by shifting their geographic range.

Among the key findings of The Ocean Race eDNA collection was a striking correlation between the abundance of ocean bacteria (Pseudomonas and Acidobacter) that break down plastic and latitude, with analysis showing the highest levels of the bacteria (meaning greater plastic degradation) at lower latitudes near Brazil’s coastline.

Amory Ross lead the eDNA sampling onboard 11th Hour Racing Team | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing/The Ocean RaceAmory Ross lead the eDNA sampling onboard 11th Hour Racing Team | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing/The Ocean Race

While data from a single boat means that findings aren’t conclusive, The Ocean Race says this discovery highlights the powerful role of this type of eDNA technology and the need for further research. Understanding more about the geographic spread of these bacteria could provide valuable insights to help fight the marine plastic crisis.

Analysis also found that parasitic bacteria (exo or intracellular parasites) — which can be a threat to the health of other species, including humans — are strongly linked with increased sea surface temperature and longitude, with higher abundances closer to landmasses.

With record-breaking ocean temperatures documented in recent months, the influence of changing ocean temperatures on pathogenic microorganisms is another crucial area requiring further research.

Xavier Pochon, team leader of molecular surveillance at the Cawthron Institute and associate professor at the University of Auckland said: “We’re very excited about the data collected during The Ocean Race, particularly those linked with pathogens and plastic degraders. These are interesting findings because very little is known about their distribution and ecology across large latitudinal gradients.

“Our eDNA collection system on racing boats offers significant benefits over traditional research methods as it allows scientists to audit biodiversity from across the tree of life, more rapidly, cheaply and with minimum hands-on time for the sailors. We are looking forward to equipping many more racing boats in the future and propelling our knowledge of marine life into uncharted waters.”

Onboard 11th Hour Racing Team: three eDNA filters from the third sample set, all done and ready for processing with date and time recorded on the bags | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing/The Ocean RaceOnboard 11th Hour Racing Team: three eDNA filters from the third sample set, all done and ready for processing with date and time recorded on the bags | Credit: Amory Ross/11th Hour Racing/The Ocean Race

As part of The Ocean Race’s science programme — one of the pillars of the Racing with Purpose sustainability programme that was created with premier partner 11th Hour Racing — the data collection was trialled across one leg of the 32,000nm (60,000 km) race, spanning a latitude of 27 degrees to 39 degrees, to test the feasibility of gathering eDNA on racing boats.

11th Hour Racing Team gathered the samples through an onboard OceanPack: a specialised instrument that measures a range of ocean data, including salinity, temperature, carbon dioxide, oxygen and trace elements.

The equipment worked automatically and continuously throughout the race; eDNA was sampled through the OceanPack — the vessel's existing seawater flow-through system — which pumps two litres of water through innovative eDNA filters for later lab analysis. Trialling eDNA sampling via the OceanPack had the advantage of providing scientists with the opportunity to cross check data and look for links and correlations.

Stefan Raimund, ocean advisor at The Ocean Race said: “Each sample collected contained millions of pieces of eDNA, from single-cell organisms, all the way up to lantern fish and the elusive Moray eel, providing a fascinating snapshot of life below the waves and how it changes throughout the Atlantic Ocean.

The OceanPack is a specialised automated instrument with multiple sensors that measure a range of types of data about the ocean. 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Malizia carried the OceanPack onboard during The Ocean Race 2022-23 | Credit: Cherie Bridges/The Ocean RaceThe OceanPack is a specialised automated instrument with multiple sensors that measure a range of types of data about the ocean. 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Malizia carried the OceanPack onboard during The Ocean Race 2022-23 | Credit: Cherie Bridges/The Ocean Race

“eDNA sampling is at the forefront of biodiversity testing and is a powerful tool for understanding ocean health and how the major threats of climate change and pollution affect it. The more we know about the ocean, the more effectively we can protect it.

“Having successfully trialled the sampling during The Ocean Race 2022-23, we hope to scale it up for future races and have more boats collecting this data, including in remote and vital parts of the ocean, where even less information is available for scientists.”

The potential of eDNA testing for understanding marine biodiversity has been increasingly lauded in the last few years for providing a holistic view of biodiversity without the drawbacks of traditional research methods like catching species and aerial surveys, which can be harmful, expensive and limited. eDNA can also provide fast results, which can be vital given the urgency of the problems impacting the seas.

The data were produced using Illumina next-generation sequencing technology. Cawthron Institute, who specialise in science that supports the environment and sustainable development, was also supported by Sequench Ltd and Smith-Root.

Published in Ocean Race

Simon Fisher has been named the 10th recipient of the Magnus ‘Mange’ Olsson Prize, awarded annually to an individual who has made an impactful contribution to the sport of sailing.

Certainly this description fits Simon Fisher — known to all as SiFi — who has competed in The Ocean Race six consecutive times, beginning in 2005-06, and has won the race twice, including the latest edition with 11th Hour Racing Team. He is the only navigator in race history to earn this achievement.

During his 20-year career in the race, SiFi has seen it evolve from the Volvo Open 70 class through the one-design VO65s — where he won the race in 2014-15 with skipper Ian Walker on board Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing — and now again to the flying, foiling IMOCAs.

“My greatest accomplishment was probably winning the 2014-15 Ocean Race, as it was both the realisation of a childhood dream and the result of many years of hard work and experience,” SiFi has said. “I’m also proud of the fact that I have managed to dip my toe into many different areas that our sport has to offer, and I always enjoy new experiences and challenges.”

For over 10 years, Fisher has been a director of Diverse Performance Systems, which provides onboard systems for racing and performance cruising boats as well as superyachts where his vast experience as navigator has benefitted many projects.

Traditionally, the role of navigator is among the most important on a boat competing in The Ocean Race, and their decisions on race strategy, alongside the skipper, are critical to the success of a campaign.

But the work starts long before the race begins in terms of analysing historic weather patterns and working up an accurate performance profile of the competing race yacht to feed into the navigation routing software. SiFi is among the best in the world at this.

During this latest edition of The Ocean Race, SiFi embraced the leadership role his team was taking on sustainability via 11th Hour Racing, with a keen interest in the onboard science data programme, which feeds real-time data from the boat back to researchers on shore. One of the many uses of this data is to improve weather forecasting, which as a navigator is one of the core inputs needed to provide fast and efficient routing.

“It’s such an honour to be recognised by the Magnus Olsson Memorial Foundation for this award,” Fisher said. “I had the opportunity to cross paths with Mange a few times early in my career at The Ocean Race and he never failed to make an impact with his positivity, enthusiasm and pure joy at the prospect of going to sea and racing around the world. His attitude was infectious — you couldn’t help but smile when you were around Magnus.”

The Magnus Olsson Prize is awarded annually to an individual who has made an impactful contribution to the sport of sailing — and previous recipients include The Ocean Race winners Torben Grael, Grant Dalton, Carolijn Brouwer and Stan Honey along with Olympic sailing legends like Sir Ben Ainslie, Peter Burling, Martine Grael, Santiago Lange and Pelle Petterson.

The 10th Magnus Olsson Prize will be presented to Simon Fisher together with a scholarship to young sailors at a Mange-style dinner ceremony in Stockholm on Tuesday 22 August. Several past winners and scholars will attend celebrating the essence of enthusiasm, passion, and determination that Mange brought to the sport of sailing — the very foundation of the Mange Olsson Memorial Foundation.

Published in Ocean Race

Iconic coastal cities around the European continent are expressing their interest in hosting the IMOCA fleet along The Ocean Race Europe route in 2025, organisers say.

The Ocean Race Europe is a north-south European offshore race scheduled to take place in 2025, ahead of the 2026-27 edition of the round-the-world race.

It will start in the Baltic Sea, sail across the North Sea and the Atlantic, through the Strait of Gibraltar, and finish in the Mediterranean — with up to five stops along the way in addition to the start and finish ports.

Following The Ocean Race’s announcement in May of the next major event in the 10-year planning cycle, European coastal cities from countries north, south, east and west are submitting their proposals to be a stopover Host City for this world-class event.

Under the banner of “Connecting Europe: Racing to restore our ocean and waters” — inspired by the EU mission aimed at protecting and restoring the health of our ocean and waters through research and innovation, citizen engagement and blue investments — the event is scheduled to begin in the late summer of 2025.

The advanced foiling offshore IMOCA class will compete in The Ocean Race Europe, crewed by the best men and women in the sport racing alongside each other on each boat.

The 14th edition of The Ocean Race has just come to a close and we are already looking forward to seeing the IMOCA fleet back in the water,” said Richard Brisius, race chairman of The Ocean Race. “Following the success of the first event in 2021, The Ocean Race Europe will connect the continent bringing world-class sailing and Racing with Purpose to help protect and restore the ocean.”

Stopovers will welcome the fleet on a Thursday or Friday and visitors and partners will enjoy departures on Sunday. Start and finish ports will offer a longer event period.

Bringing the core pillars of the race’s sustainability programme, each of the stopover cities will host an Ocean Live Park, the dedicated race village where visitors can experience the event up-close and learn about how to protect the ocean. Activities will include learning workshops for children, high-level summits and opportunities to help people understand the race's onboard science programme.

Proposals arriving from cities all over Europe are being carefully evaluated by The Ocean Race and a maximum of five will be selected among the bidding venues. The selected cities will be announced in February 2024.

Published in Ocean Race

The Ocean Race 2022-23 featured more female sailors than in any of the previous events in the race’s 50-year history.

Overall, across the five IMOCAs taking part in the round-the-world race and the six VO65s taking part in the The Ocean Race Sprint, there were 39 female sailors, making up 28% of the competitors overall and 98 male sailors, making up 72%.

This is a third more than the previous edition and continues the upward trend of more women sailing in the Race. In 2014-15 18% of competitors were female, while in the last edition (2017-18) the figure rose to 21%.

While each IMOCA is required to have at least one female competitor onboard the four-strong sailing team, and three of the 10 sailors onboard VO65s are required to be female, Biotherm exceeded the quota, with two men and two women sailing in three of the seven legs.

The French IMOCA team also had a female onboard reporter (OBR) for several legs, as did Team Holcim-PRB, while Viva México had a female onboard reporter on all their legs and Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team for Leg 2. This marked another record for the race, which had only one female OBR in the last edition and two in 2014-15.

The Ocean Race organisers say they also made strides in the race for greater equality in sailing off the water, with other traditionally male-dominated roles seeing an increased number of women.

Following a big push to bring gender balance to the race official roles, the current edition had an international jury of 11 members, composed of six women and five men. This figure is significantly higher than elsewhere in the industry, with certified international sailing judges only consisting of around 15% women.

‘We are sailing in the right direction, but more needs to be done to break down barriers and create pathways into the sport for women’

Richard Brisius, race chairman of The Ocean Race said: “Making sailing more inclusive is one of the most important things we can do to secure the future of the sport. We’re delighted to have a record percentage of female competitors in the race and more females taking on traditionally male-dominated roles.

“We are sailing in the right direction, but more needs to be done to break down barriers and create pathways into the sport for women. Just as we have set an industry benchmark in driving more female participants in the sport, we need to move the dial on diversity and leave a legacy in which the sport becomes much more accessible to all.

“Coming together as an industry and working collaboratively is the only way that this can be achieved. For the race, we will continue to work with our host cities and local and national sailing federations to create pathways and opportunities. We also need greater commitments and action across the industry.”

Holcim-PRB sailor and co-founder of The Magenta Project, Abby Ehler said: “I have participated in four editions of this race and The Ocean Race 2022-23 has taken a step forward in terms of inclusivity. I have genuinely felt part of a team, and not a token gesture to a rule. This in my mind says a lot and shows that change is happening. Men and women competing side by side in a team is now being normalised — we are one of many, rather than the first, or the only.

“I do believe that the rules around crew diversity help to increase female participation and inclusion and I hope this continues with the pathways and opportunities ensuring that crew diversity occurs organically without the need for a rule.”

During this edition, The Ocean Race teamed up with logistics partner GAC Pindar, The Magenta Project and World Sailing Trust to host a series of panel discussions and networking events aimed at driving greater diversity and equality in sailing. The four events, held in three continents, featured local and international voices from across the maritime industry, with the final ‘On the Horizon’ session being held on Friday (30 June) during the Grand Finale in Genoa, Italy.

The Ocean Race was the first round-the-world crewed race with female sailors, with 13 women competing in the first edition in 1973. For the 2017-18 edition, the race introduced a rule requiring all teams to include at least one woman.

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