The Ocean Race brings environment to surface

Environment

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Ocean Race is a sailing event that goes around the world and takes 10 months to finish, but winning does not necessarily require finishing first.

Damian Foxall, sustainability manager of the 11th Hour Racing team, said the goal of the race is “to perform, to do our very best to win the Ocean Race, but also to embed sustainability and promote sustainability right across our sectors of operation and influence.”

Foxall has sailed around the world seven times and is getting ready to participate with his team for the 3rd time in the Ocean Race.

The race occurs every few years. It starts in Europe and ends in Europe, but it will once again have a stop in Newport, where their sponsor, 11th Hour Racing, is based.

Along the way, the team has also been involved in some very important drop-offs.

“For the last 20 years, we’ve been dropping weather buoys in the ocean, for NOAA, and for the scientific community,” Foxall said.

They recently dropped a buoy just south of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic Ocean, but the crew’s delivery area casts a much wider net.

“Let’s say we are leaving Cape Town and we are somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, we will have already been told listen, there is very little data in that part of the world, drop the buoy there,” Foxall said.

This data is fed back to the satellites, added to weather models and those resulting forecasts can be used right on-board the boat, where the data was collected in the first place.

This also helps out meteorologists like those on the Pinpoint Weather Team, who rely on this type of data.

11th Hour Racing is focused on a course towards a fast voyage, but also on protecting the environmental health of the ocean. They have an on-board system that taps into ocean water and collects critical data.

Foxall said it includes, “sea temperature, chlorophyll content, salinity, carbon dioxide and for the very first time microplastics.”

The next Ocean Race sets sail in 2022.

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