Skippers Corner: Talking Sustainability with Bjarne Nielsen, Royal Danish Yacht Club - Sailors for the Sea

Skippers Corner: Talking Sustainability with Bjarne Nielsen, Royal Danish Yacht Club

 February 9, 2024  | By: Jennifer Brett

Sailors for the Sea Skipper Bjarne Nielsen is a lifelong sailor and water lover. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he has championed sustainability efforts for the final stage of the Women’s World Match Racing Tour, a Platinum Level Clean Regatta. We recently caught up with Bjarne to find out more about this event, and what he’s looking forward to this year.

Sailors for the Sea Skipper Bjarne Nielsen (right) and a volunteer show off what they collected during a harbor cleanup.
Sailors for the Sea Skipper Bjarne Nielsen (right) and a volunteer show off what they collected during a harbor cleanup.

What were some sustainability highlights in 2023?

In 2023, I focused on implementing innovative sustainability efforts at the Women’s World Match Racing Tour final stage, which was held at the Royal Danish Yacht Club (KDY) in Skovshoved, Denmark.

Building upon our achievement of receiving the first Clean Regattas Platinum level certification for the event in 2022, our main goal for 2023 was to integrate sustainability into event management from the outset, ensuring a Clean Regatta in all aspects.

Over 40 actions were taken, with a strong emphasis on collaborating with local stakeholders. This effort was commended by the mayor of Gentofte, as well as the chairwomen of the environment, climate, and sustainability, and child, youth, and leisure committees, who delivered opening and closing speeches to all participants. With participants from over 11 different nationalities spanning several continents, our Clean Regattas initiatives served as an excellent platform to inspire diverse cultures and communities.

As a yacht club supported by our municipality, we view it as a significant opportunity to promote sustainable practices globally, especially within the context of a professional world tour. Our aim is to inspire others to adopt sustainable approaches seamlessly, without compromising the performance or goals of the participants.

In 2023, KDY and Skovshoved harbor had the privilege of hosting the after-sail event at the recently opened Halgodt, a sustainable beach house constructed primarily from wood and powered by rooftop solar panels, providing 80% of its energy needs.

Inspired by the Sailors for the Sea Green Boating Guide, we began using absorbent pads in committee boats to manage oil leaks effectively, a simple yet impactful measure that can be adopted by gasoline or diesel-powered boats worldwide.

Contrary to common belief, implementing Clean Regattas initiatives does not have to be cost-prohibitive; in fact, it can be equally or even more economical than conventional approaches. By prioritizing sustainability, we not only save costs but also contribute to the preservation of our seas, oceans, and environments, which we all cherish.

Bjarne Nielsen, Royal Danish Yacht Club (KDY)

What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

A sailboat rounds a mark in the Women's World Match Racing Tour
Sailing around a mark during the Women’s World Match Racing Tour in Denmark

Looking ahead to 2024, my focus as Skipper at Sailors for the Sea will be to advocate for Clean Regattas, Green Boating, and KELP programs, inspiring European yacht clubs and regattas to participate and learn more about sustainable practices. Whether it’s Olympic, Americas Cup, World Match Racing Tour events, fleet regattas, or dinghy classes, we invite everyone to join the Clean Regattas movement. Upon hosting a Clean Regatta, participants will receive certification, symbolizing their commitment to environmental stewardship.

It’s important to remember that regardless of certification level – bronze, silver, gold, or platinum – the ultimate winners are our environment, oceans, and seas. Let’s embrace curiosity, explore new possibilities, and strive for sustainability in all our endeavors.

In 2024, KDY/Royal Danish Yacht Club will continue to innovate with new sustainable solutions, host Clean Regattas, and set higher standards. The club’s focus will be on events such as the J/70 Corinthian Worlds 2024, the Swan Nordic Regatta 2024, and the Marblehead Trophy 2024, where we aim to promote Clean Regattas principles and expand our collaboration with other yacht clubs.

Hosting the Women’s World Match Racing Tour for the third consecutive year underscores our commitment to showcasing Clean Regattas practices at the highest level of women’s sailing. By welcoming participants from diverse backgrounds, we demonstrate how Clean Regattas initiatives can positively impact all levels of sailing.

May 2024 be a year filled with sustainable practices and successful endeavors for all.