CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week is on track to achieve Clean Regatta certification in 2020, as event organisers strive to leave a clean wake by reducing the event’s environmental impact.
“We’ve joined up with Sailors for the Sea to become a certified clean regatta,” says Regatta Chair Manuela Gmuer-Hornell, “because we’re sailors ourselves, and we’re all passionate about protecting our oceans. People come to this regatta for the beauty of the Bay of Islands, so we want to do all we can to protect that.”
Clean Regattas is the world’s only sustainability certification for water-based events, and has been used globally by over 2,000 regattas and 595,000 sailors. The program helps event organisers improve their environmental footprint, by implementing best practice sustainability policies and practices.
“In the last few years we’ve already been doing a fair bit to be more environmentally friendly,” says Manuela, “but being part of the Clean Regattas programme has really helped us get to the next level in terms of sustainability.”
CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week has long enforced a ‘no discharge’ rule for all participants, meaning nothing from on board can be disposed of at sea while participating in the regatta. Organisers say the regatta was also the first in NZ to ban the use of disposable ties or rubber bands used for spinnaker hoists, which would otherwise end up in the ocean.
“We’ve also got rid of single use plastic bottles, replaced plastic bags with reusable ones, and we’re pretty much paperless when it comes to organising the event”, Manuela says. “This year we also switched to online committee meetings so we don’t need to drive to meetings any more.”
Other sustainability practices already implemented by CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week include prioritising local suppliers to reduce transport and support the local economy, offering refillable water bottles and water refilling stations to regatta volunteers, and cutting down on printing by using digital technology for publicity and race management. At the 2020 regatta, local community group Russell Recyclers will be on hand to help minimise waste ending up in landfill, and participants will be encouraged to reduce their own environmental impact.
“We’re hoping to achieve Silver Certification in 2020 and keep stepping up every year from there”, Manuela says. “It’s a process, and it takes time to make big changes, but everything we do helps. We want to provide opportunities for sailors to enjoy their sport and benefits to our local community long into the future. That’s why we’re committed to running an environmentally responsible and sustainable regatta.”
CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week takes place from 21 to 24 January, 2020, and it’s expected over 100 boats and 1,000 people will take part in racing and shorebased events over the four days. More information, including the event’s Clean Regatta Policy and online entry form, can be found at www.bayofislandssailingweek.org.nz.