Team 11th Hour Racing shows how sailing can be “cleaner, faster, better”

TreehuggerChris Tackett (@ChrisTackett)October 30, 2013

There’s something inherently environmentally-friendly about sail boats, but sailing races are not always known for their sustainability. One team is aiming to change that.

Every other year in odd years, sailors around the world team up for the Transat Jacques Vabres, a race that runs along the historic coffee trading route between France and Brazil. For the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabres, the 11th Hour Project, which is led by Wendy Schmidt and funded by the Schmidt Family Foundation, is supporting Team 11th Hour Racing’s Hannah Jenner and Rob Windsor.

The 11th Hour Projects aims to “promote a fuller understanding of the impact of human activity within the web of interdependent living systems”, so it makes sense that they would partner with Team 11th Hour Racing, which is aiming to raise awareness of the environmental challenges within racing. Towards that end, during their sail from France to Brazil, Team 11th Hour Racing will take on eleven tools, technologies and techniques that will each contribute and demonstrate one of the three tenants of their campaign: Cleaner, Faster, Better.

© Team 11th Hour Racing

Here’s a look at the eleven solutions they will be incorporating into the race to reduce their impact.

For electricity, the boat is equipped with a hydrogenerator by Watt & Sea, which eliminates the need to run a diesel generator and lightens their load because they need less fuel.

Additionally, they have two flexible solar panels from Solbian that will provide enough energy to run the autopilot and navigational systems. Plus, with a customized mounting system by Eastern Electronic Marine, the panels can be moved to always be getting the most sun at any time of day.

For drinking water, instead of bringing clean water and using plastic water bottles, the team will be using a desalinator from Katadyn. This is estimated to save 888 1-liter plastic water bottles over the course of their training and race.

For boiling water for coffee or tea or cooking dehydrated meals, a solar kettle from Contemporary Energy, again allowing the team to avoid using their diesel generator, which will save fuel.

For fresh produce, the boat is equipped with a garden for growing microgreens, providing an energy-efficient and nutrient dense source of produce. Normally after 4 to 5 days, fresh produce is unheard of in offshore distance racing.

Also, by working with a nutritionist, they will be creating a meal plan to get proper nutrition, but also to eliminate food packaging and reduce waste.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but the team is also making a commitment to not throwing anything overboard while racing.

© Team 11th Hour Racing

And because so few people will ever have the opportunity to participate on a race of this type, Hannah and Rob will be doing some education outreach with the Rozalia Project to show 25,000 students across America how these tools are helping them save energy and reduce waste.

In addition to that, they are also working with 5 Gyres, to keep a daily report of their position and what they see, such as marine life, trash, birds etc. Data will be used for research being conducted by 5 Gyres.

Lastly, the carbon footprint the teams does create from driving, flights and monitor usage will be offset at the conclusion of the event.

All in all, it is an impressive suite of tools and techniques to show that modern sailing races can be less harmful on the environment, which is fitting since sail boats are wind powered and there is something inherently environmentally-friendly about this mode of travel.

We wish Hannah, Rob and everyone at 11th Hour Sailing a safe and successful journey!

To learn more, visit 11th Hour Racing. You can follow along during the course of the race on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.