In an effort to address the carbon impact of building and refitting sailing boats, organisers of new around-the-world boat race The Race Around have announced plans to deliver the most innovative sustainability program the sport has ever seen.
Working with academics, the ‘Class40’ race will explore the latest sustainable innovations in boat building, including the use of recyclable fibres and resins, to integrate a more circular approach to construction within the class and wider industry. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) will follow the build process in order to quantify the reduction in environmental impact of sustainable materials and processes.
The data will help set a benchmark for the carbon footprint of the entire boat building process. The outcomes of the research could also be applied to the car and renewable energy industries, amongst others.
In a sailing first, The Race Around will also offer entry fee reductions to competitors actively cutting the carbon impact of the boat building or refit process who share the data with race organisers ahead of the 2023 event. A mandatory carbon budget will then be introduced for the second edition of the race in 2027.
The vast majority of sailing boats are currently constructed using energy intensive methods that produce high levels of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur dioxide. At the end of life most are sent to landfill.
A prototype Class40 boat, to be built early next year, as part of the research project, will act as a case study to showcase the capabilities of the cutting edge materials at regattas and boat shows and provide vital insights for other industries. Ways to extend the lifespan of existing Class40 boats and integrate sustainable approaches to refitting as well as tackling the problems of end of life disposal are also being studied as part of The Futures Program.
Sam Holliday, co-founder of The Race Around, said: “The sailing industry is addressing certain elements of its environmental impact but more needs to be done. We want to disprove the theory that sustainable alternatives to traditional methods, whilst reducing carbon emissions, impact performance.
“By collaborating with academics, and sharing the data with the wider industry, which will also be relevant to other businesses and industries, we want to drive real change and large scale transformation.”
The organisers already have a track record in implementing sustainability measures through The Atlantic Cup which was the first regatta to be certified Platinum in 2016 by Sailors for the Sea, an achievement repeated in 2018. It was also the first event to be certified ISO 20121 compliant in the United States.