2012 Atlantic Cup The First U.S. Carbon Neutral Sailing Race

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of ecoRI News. Author credit goes to Kyle Hence.

With the warmer weather, Aquidneck Island, Rhode Island is buzzing over the return of the America’s Cup in June and the Tall Ships in July. While both happenings will likely make for a busier summer, an international sailing event new to the City-by-the-Sea, aka Newport, is scheduled for May 26-27, and it’s all part of a movement to make these types of events more environmentally friendly.

The 2012 Atlantic Cup will be the first carbon-neutral sailing race in the country. This unique event is presented by 11th Hour Racing and supported by the Green Mountain Energy Co. An international fleet of 13 competitors with teams from France, England, the United States and Germany began the first of three legs May 11 from Charleston, S.C. The fleet of Class 40 sailing vessels will race to New York Harbor (May 14-19) before continuing on to Newport.

Sail boat racing

image via Shutterstock

Two local organizations, for-profit Newport Biodiesel and nonprofit Sailors for the Sea, are partners in making the event amongst the most environmentally responsible of its kind. Newport Biodiesel is providing a biofuel made from recycled cooking oil for use in the auxiliary engines on Atlantic Cup race boats. The growing local “green” fuel company also is in discussions with America’s Cup organizers.

Sailors for the Sea is the only ocean conservation nonprofit focused on the sailing and boating community in the worldwide protection of the oceans. Its signature program, Clean Regattas, has certified The Atlantic Cup as a Gold Level Clean Regatta. Sailors for the Sea also is a partner in the America’s Cup Healthy Ocean Project and is certifying the America’s Cup World Series event to be based at Fort Adams from June 26-July 1.

“With Rhode Island being the Ocean State there is a love and appreciation for the ocean. Whether you are playing by the shore, on the water, it’s such a regular part of the lives of Rhode Islanders,” said Hilary Wiech of Sailors for the Sea.

In fact, the greening of sailing events is happening across the globe, she said. This movement, Wiech said, is helping to counter the naive belief that the ocean is so vast it can continue to absorb toxic waste.

These Newport events follow a vote by the City Council in March approving a resolution (pdf) authorizing the Newport Energy and Environment Commission to conduct a study to explore a “sustainability protocol” for all local events. The vision of the city’s representatives is to make the busy tourist season more environmentally friendly.

Calculating carbon
The 2012 Atlantic Cup carbon footprint will be calculated prior to the race start by Green Mountain. Based on these calculations and a post-race assessment, carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates (RECs) will be retired in order to offset emissions associated with the event, such as staff air travel, ground and water transportation, staff hotel stays and event electricity usage.

“As sailors, we are all intimately involved with the oceans and environment and it is our goal as organizers of a major U.S. sailing event to set forth a good example to the wider sailing community in the hopes that more events will follow in our footsteps,” said Hugh Piggin, Manuka Sports Event Management founder and Atlantic Cup race director.

“The Atlantic Cup represents the model for sailing events to come — focusing on the adventure and skill of the sailors and their interaction with the waters they sail in, and making smart choices for the oceans that are smart on the race course,” said Jeremy Pochman, director of 11th Hour Racing.

The Atlantic Cup’s “green” commitments include: teams will use at least one alternative fuel source to charge batteries to power all the on-board electronics while offshore; the race is a plastic water bottle-free event; teams will use only environmentally friendly cleaning products to wash down and clean their boats; 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper has/and will be used in the Manuka Sports Event Management offices and for all event packets, tickets and handouts; Zip 2 Water will provide an onsite water filling station in each city for teams and guests to fill their canteens; recycling stations will be set up in all marinas and at all hospitality parties; and only glassware or biodegradable plastic will be used at hospitality events.

Competition schedule
• May 11: Departed Charleston, S.C., for double-handed (two people on board) 645 nautical miles from Charleston to New York Harbor, New York around the challenging Cape Hatteras.
• May 18: Compete in a one-day Pro-Am race in New York Harbor.
• May 19: Depart New York Harbor with double-handed 260 nautical miles from New York to Newport.
• May 26: Two days inshore fully crewed (six people on board) buoy racing held over the weekend of May 26 in Newport.
• May 27: Party and award presentation at Newport Shipyard.

ecoRI News is the journalistic arm of ecoRI Inc. and is dedicated to the advancement of environmental and social justice issues that impact Rhode Island. It is devoted to protecting the Ocean State’s ecosystems, natural resources and public health through independent journalism.