ISAF World Cup - Sailors for the Sea

ISAF World Cup

 February 11, 2015  | By: Oceana

Travel report from Tyson Bottenus, Sustainability Director

In January, I traveled to Miami, Florida to work with U.S. Sailing in an effort to implement Clean Regattas at the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup. The month before, I spoke on the phone with U.S. Sailing about what the regatta was already doing, along with sustainability challenges U.S. Sailing might encounter during the event. The ISAF Sailing World Cup is a huge sailing event for North America with over 700 sailors from 60 countries competes in a week-long battle. It’s also a stop on the road to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Considering the major pollution issues the waters of Rio are facing (read: can 100 years of pollution be cleaned in two?), it feels more important than ever that sailors become part of the race to restore ocean health. Over the years we have received reports that Biscayne Bay has a plastic pollution problem and by implementing Clean Regattas, race organizers can take steps to stop contributing to the problem.

One important precaution to take at any sailing event is to ensure trashcans are not overflowing close to the water, as they are in the photo below, which was shared on Facebook by Scuttlebutt Sailing News.

trash on dock, us sailing center, scuttlebutt sailing news

How do you solve the problem of overflowing trashcans? To begin, I think it’s important that we look at what the problem is. I see a lot of single-use plastic bottles. But upon closer inspection, I see an unlabeled trashcan that’s simply too small to handle the volume of the event.

This falls across a few of our Best Practices, most notably “Good Waste Management”, “Recycling”, and “Responsible Signage”. (Eliminating single-use water bottles is another important best practice, but was not able to addressed this year at this regatta.)

Most city governments have a recycling program and to find out what your options are, contacting your local municipality is a great start. For this event, it was as simple as googling: “recycling” and “City of Miami”. That’s it!

From there I emailed the Director of Solid Waste (who agreed that we needed recycling), and then sent the request down the line to the Chief of Operations, and then to the Superintendent of Solid Waste. As you can probably guess, recycling is a little more complicated than just putting a bin out that says “Go Green!” (But, really, not that much more complicated.)

One of the challenges the ISAF Sailing World Cup encountered was that it took place across four venues. U.S. Sailing was able to provide the number of sailors at each venue, which, helped estimate the number of bins, needed per venue. We decided that the bigger venues (300+ sailors) should have six recycling bins spread out and the smaller venues (100+) should have four recycling bins each. The City of Miami also graciously offered to pick up the bins for free. This was important in keeping costs down.

Lastly, I decided that even though the bins were single stream, we should probably put some awesome signs on them so that everyone would know to put their single-use water bottles in the proper bin.

miami, usaf world cup, save the ocean, recycle
Fun, clear signage with simple instructions made recycling for sailors easy!

At every location I spent time making sure they were spread evenly around the property and ALWAYS set next to a waste bin. This is crucial because people will inadvertently put “non-recyclables” in a recycling bin if they do not see the proper option.

recycling bin, miami nacra 16
By always pairing trash and recycling bins together, it is easy to make the right choice on where to put your trash.

Most exciting was that we had enough bins to put one on the same dock at the U.S. Sailing Center that had previously been overwhelmed by trash. It was rewarding to see that only one month later, Sailors for the Sea and U.S. Sailing could make this improvement together.

Next year, we look forward to having recycling at this event again – and helping them reduce reliance on single use water bottles!