What are you passionate about? Ask me that question and the answer would be...water!!
Seas , oceans - maybe even big lakes. I love being on the surface , in the middle, on the coast, underwater . In calm and in stormy conditions. Winter sea has as much of an attraction to me as summer sea. For sure, even in summer, you wouldn’t catch me roasting on a beach, as I will be somewhere exploring (or maybe looking at tiny encrustations on rocks and willing to explain to passers by all about that sponge / barnacle / hydroid / bryozoan ...)
I have to say there are some things I miss about living near the Atlantic , and for sure one is surfing ! That feeling of being in the middle of something so powerful and yet, once behind the big white water, also so peaceful. There is something magical about watching the rolling wave arriving and trying to decide whether to try catch it or just wait for the next , trying to decipher its future behaviour (will it close on you causing pain or will it be a nice ride ?).
Seas and oceans are full of powerful forces and a crazy amount of energy - from the water but also from the winds just above the surface .
That can be used to our advantage. It is no wonder that they are trying to find ways to efficiently (and sustainably) converge it into energy.
If you think about it, this natural power has been used for moving around for centuries. Yes, by sailing. Forget about big polluting cruise ships . Sailing is the way to enjoy the water , understanding the magnificence of nature (if you are not careful and have too much sail up you may quickly realise just how strong the elements can be). If like me you have been following the Vendee globe this year (I have , and I am cheering for Clarisse Cremer (12th as I am writing!) just in case you had any doubts…!) , you may have followed what happened to some of the competitors - broken equipments of various entities including a big shipwreck and heroic ‘man back on board’ operation.. and this is because this race, as some others round the globe (like the Volvo ocean race) pass through ‘uncharted territories’ and less traveled paths. It is real Adventure. But here comes the catch, because it is not simply adventure and risk taking. There is more to it.
First of all - even if they are sailing (on big super fast boats), they are also helping science! In the Ocean Race, the 2017-18 program launched the scientific part where 30 scientific drifter buoys were launched, and two crews (Turn the tide on plastic and team Akzo nobel) collected microplastic data, plus all boats were equipped with various sensors (CO2, Temperature, Salinity, Chlorophyll..) so that a lot of very important data in continuous and along big gradients could be collected. Something this big would be near impossible to do just by ‘science’ alone. The Vendee globe is also doing something similar, deploying 3 buoys part of the Global Ocean Observing System and three new types of floats part of the Argo network , plus there are also some boats in the race that are equipped with sensors and some that will collect and filter seawater for measurements of microplastic pollution.
Something this big can definitely also be useful by helping raising awareness. Just by naming a boat ‘ turn the tide on plastic’ one can do a lot. Races like this one have a lot of followers, not necessarily oriented already towards sustainability. Plus, by racing there is no excessive damage to the environment (okay, maybe the shipwreck.. but it may also be a cool artificial reef ?) as they will not pollute, make unnecessary noise during the race. One may argue about the sustainability of boat building, and in particular for these types of races when new materials are constantly tested and expensive electronics developed. I am not arguing that we should build a lot of these boats, or encourage the constant updating of technology. I am arguing that it is amazing how fast can one go just powered by nature, and that is something to rethink our ways of travelling. And I am arguing that having these big sports events helping science is a great thing. I hope they don’t do it for just greenwashing, but I also assume that sailors will be the first to understand and respect the water (their playground) and can be the drivers for change. Especially as we enter the ‘UN decade of ocean science for sustainable development’ this is a great step and I am hoping to see more.
Let’s use the full potential of these events, let’s not waste resources and let’s try to make a difference together
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