Taking Clean Regattas Harbor-wide - Sailors for the Sea

Taking Clean Regattas Harbor-wide

 April 12, 2023  | By: Emily Conklin

Sailors for the Sea Skipper Rob Howie opens the second annual sustainability workshop in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

With six yacht clubs and over 50 summer racing events, Marblehead Harbor is an exciting spot to sail and provides plenty of opportunities for sailors to make a difference for our oceans. Sailors for the Sea Skipper Rob Howie is leading the charge with clubs and other local organizations to make more sustainable events and practices a baseline expectation for the sailing community.

This spring, members from Boston area yacht clubs and the Marblehead sailing community gathered for the second annual workshop on Green Clubs, Regattas, and Boaters. Planning for the season requires collaboration on a breadth of topics, but this event focused on sustainability, sharing resources and expertise to make green goals more attainable. Sailors for the Sea was excited to present on our ongoing work on Green Boating, Clean Regattas, and emerging programs such as Clean Class, as well as to learn from participants where they need more support.

The workshop included discussion and breakout sessions covering each club’s sustainability challenges and opportunities.

Rob Howie opened the event by sharing the collective goal of positioning Marblehead as a sustainability leader, moving from the individual and institutional level to engendering sustainability as a common cause for the good of the whole Harbor. The ultimate goal is for every event run in Marblehead to be a Clean Regatta. Rob and his teammates from area yacht clubs and Sustainable Marblehead are tackling this challenge by dividing up the Clean Regatta Best Practices by role, detailing who is responsible for what actions and streamlining how to easily incorporate sustainable actions into everyday practices. With the explanation of these new initiatives and plenty of discussion among attendees, we came away with several nuggets of wisdom to carry into the season.

Progress not perfection

Progress, not perfection, is one of our Clean Regattas mottos. We embrace the idea of making better choices for you and your organization- you don’t have to go for perfection right out of the gate! Implementing change isn’t always easy, but maintaining change once it’s in place can be simpler. As Marblehead organizer Paul McLaughlin shared, “we don’t need rules, we need reminders.” Working together as clubs, classes, and environmental stewards, an engaged community can help remind one another to stay on track, practice good habits and encourage progress towards sustainability goals.

Corinthian Yacht Club representative Paul McLaughlin shares some of the ideas from his group’s breakout session.

Consistent collaboration and communication

Working with multiple partners, all with different constraints and priorities, can be challenging. Participants in the workshop emphasized that consistent messaging and ongoing communication will help keep Clean Regattas goals front and center throughout the season. Soliciting feedback and adjusting methods along the way can help maintain momentum towards the end goal of sustainable practices.

A Dolphin Pump fitted on a 5-gallon bottle of water is an easy, affordable way to offer personal water bottle refills.

Friendly competition can go far!

The workshop organizers also introduced the Marblehead Green Boater competition, a friendly contest among the yacht clubs to see who can sign up the most Green Boaters this summer. The winner receives bragging rights and a Sailors for the Sea prize. An added incentive can sometimes be the motivation folks need to take action for the environment.

Thank you to the Marblehead crew for inviting us up for this workshop for the second year in a row! We love learning from our organizers and Skipper volunteers who are trying new ways to incorporate sustainability into their programs. We can’t wait to see who wins the Green Boater contest and to share more lessons learned from the Marblehead Harbor-wide initiative.

Sailors for the Sea Skipper Rob Howie (left) was joined by Skipper Adam Riley, who is currently the director of racing at Boston’s Piers Park Sailing Center.