Racing crew aims to raise pollution awareness

Conservation NGO the World Wide Fund for Nature ((WWF) South Africa, in partnership with the Love Water yacht eight-man strong racing crew, launched a campaign to highlight the problems that plastic pollution causes in the world’s oceans.

The launch took place at the Table Bay Hotel on Wednesday January 8, where the crew also showed off the Love Water, the yacht they will be racing in the Cape2Rio in an attempt to break the race record of 11 days set by the Maserati in 2014.

The crew is aiming to do the trip in eight days, while promoting environmental awareness around the impact of plastic pollution on marine life.

And paying tribute to the number eight, the Love Water team will use social media platforms to share eight stories about marine plastic pollution during their voyage in support of the WWF’s “8 Reasons to make a Difference for our Oceans” awareness campaign which is part of WWF SA’s ongoing effort to educate the public about reducing plastic waste in our environment.

Love Water is an 80-foot, trimaran which arrived in Cape Town last month from Portugal.

The yacht is manned by professional sailors with 11 Rio races under their belts. The Love Water core South African crew includes Ken Venn, Phil Lambrecht, Mike Clarke, Mike Minkley, Rick Garratt and Craig Sutherland. Completing the full team is Antoine Rabaste from France and Brian Thompson, from Britain.

The behaviour change manager at WWF, Pavitray Pillay, said they wanted to bring home an important message about the scourge of plastic in the environment.

“The ocean plays an important part of all our lives. We need to work together to fight the rising tide of pollution in our seas.”

She said the problem lies with the communities, who overuse plastic and litter. Part of the campaign is to emphasise that it is our problem, because it is our plastic. We need people to start with small changes, and together we can make a difference.”

Mr Minkley, from Constantia, who is part of the crew and has been sailing for years, said they wanted to share their appreciation for the oceans. He said the crew decided to join the campaign as the oceans was under threat, and one of the biggest threats were plastic pollution, which caused havoc in the ecosystems and harmed marine life.

Ken Venn, a crew member, said the eight men had been sailing together for more than 20 years, at different times in their lives.

He said the idea to do the Cape2Rio race came from crew members Rick Garratt and Craig Sutherland. He said South Africa did not hold a Cape2Rio record in about 40 years.

Mr Venn said the journey was to be made with Love Water’s sister yacht, which capsized in September. Thereafter, they found the current yacht and repaired her in six months. He said Love Water was one of the fastest yachts in the world.

“We are an experienced crew but we are never not nervous, especially on a yacht like this. However, we’ve crossed many oceans together and we are looking forward to having fun.”

Mr Sutherland, from Rondebosch, said they all loved the ocean so they decided to do the campaign while also attempting the record. “The motivation is to give something back as sailors, and what better way than with this record? We are going to use this race to tell our stories.”

Western Cape premiere Alan Winde wished the team a safe and successful Cape2Rio race. “Plastic pollution is a global problem and we thank the team for their efforts in raising environmental awareness. We need people to become conscious of their use of plastic, and to take responsibility for looking after our planet and its future.”

The crew left the V&A Waterfront on Saturday January 11. The yacht will be returned to the Caribbean, where it will be used for more races. The team will end their trip with a Commitment Day to share what they’ve learnt and seen about plastic pollution during the crossing and make their own pledges to do something about it.

Follow #LoveWater’s progress at https://my.yb.tl/lovewater and the social media channels of both #LoveWater and the WWF SASSI account on Instagram to learn more about plastic pollution and to track the yacht’s progress.