The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee is proud to announce the race has earned gold-level certification from Sailors for the Sea’s Clean Regattas program, a race of its own aimed at restoring ocean health. Administered by Newport, RI-based Sailors for the Sea, Clean Regattas is a certification system with five levels – Participant, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum – enabling sailors to protect their local waters with as many of 25 best practices as possible, making sustainability approachable and easy. The race earned Clean Regattas certification previously, in 2014 and ‘16, but 2018 was the first year the race reached the Gold level

Peter Noonan’s Swan 56 Defiance at the start of the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race © Daniel Forster/PPL

Joe Harris, leader of the Newport Bermuda Race Green Team, reported achieving 19 of 25 best practices en route to earning Gold certification. Those practices included:

  • Organizing a Green Team of volunteers;
  • Engaging the public through the race website and social media;
  • Reducing the number of single-serve plastic water bottles used by competitors in favor of re-usable containers;
  • Providing water-refill stations;
  • Providing compost stations;
  • Making the race a “Trash Free Regatta under RRS Rule 55 (No discharge)”;
  • Encouraging recycling and making recycling stations available in both Newport and Bermuda.

“Actively engaging all the competitors and the race community in the principles of sustainability was a major step forward,” Harris said. “It got everyone thinking about how to protect the oceans and shorelines where we love to sail.”

In Bermuda, Green Team member Hal Kempe coordinated a comprehensive program for separating general trash and recyclables, with clearly marked and abundant bins, making recycling easy for competitors and fans. Goslings also helped out with reusable, recyclable drink cups. Harris also credited the communications team for extra effort, including fun interviews with Green Team members by Nic Douglass of “Adventures of a Sailor Girl.” He also pointed to the beach cleanup the team did in Newport with Clean Ocean Access. “It was a great way to get to know the folks at COA,” said Harris, “and shine a light on all their awesome work.”

Looking ahead to the 2020 race, Harris pointed to three areas of improvement. “We need to do a better job on composting, making it more available in both Newport and Bermuda, and I know we can recruit more volunteers for our Green Team so we are more visible in our green t-shirts and keep environmental best practices front and center. We’d also like to provide every competitor with a branded, re-useable, insulated cup/mug to use for all beverages throughout the race. That should get rid of a ton of plastic!”