WATCH NOW: Catching up with a Bermuda Race E-Steward - Sailors for the Sea

WATCH NOW: Catching up with a Bermuda Race E-Steward

 July 6, 2022  | By: Jennifer Brett

Organizers of the Newport Bermuda Race had a big goal in mind for the 2022 edition—to achieve a Platinum level Clean Regatta. To make this happen, they launched a creative new crew position that helps to put a focus on Clean Regattas Best Practices aboard the individual boats: Environmental Steward. The 635-nautical mile offshore race left Newport, RI, on June 17th, with the bulk of the fleet arriving in Bermuda about three days later.

According to Chan Reis, the head of the Newport Bermuda Race Green Team, “An E-steward is a member of the racing crew interested in developing and promoting expertise around environmental sustainability and best practices onboard. All racing crews have specialists in their areas of the boat, such as trimming or the bow,” he continued. “If we want to advance sustainability goals, it seems natural to round out a crew with someone whose expertise is in this area.”

While covering the race arrivals in Bermuda, Sailing World magazine editor and member of the event’s media team Dave Reed had a chance to sit down with Megan Gimple, the e-steward from the J/122 Alliance, to see how she put Clean Regatta Best Practices in place aboard. Their conversation is excerpted below (watch the video for the entire interview).

Dave Reed: So the e-steward position – tell us about it

Megan Gimple: It’s a pretty cool initiative from the race this year, this whole option of having this environmental steward. It’s not a position like bow or tactician or something like that. It’s really heavy on the preparations and just making sure you have a dedicated person that keeps the awareness up. It’s really easy to get carried away with something so big [like the Newport Bermuda Race], and it takes a lot of time to prepare—so it’s nice to have someone dedicated there to actually think stuff through and being very conscience. I think for me a lot of it is education and many people I sail with, they just don’t know [about sustainability best practices].

DR: And what exactly do e-stewards do?

MG: On our boat we did a couple things. One of them was the reusable water bottles—it’s super easy and everyone like it. We had compostable silverware, and we washed our bowls and everything. All our food was premade—which was a big thing for the prep—and then packed in Tupperware or reusable containers, and so we were able to wash those. The team is going to use them for the return trip as well.

One of the other big things is trash management, because you’re making and keeping all the trash on the boat. We ended the race with about two and a half small bags total, which we were pretty happy with for having nine crew.

DR: So was part of this role also documenting stuff you find on the surface?

MG: Yeah, another cool thing we did was every watch, if anyone came across any marine debris, they would put it down in down in our ship log—the location, time and date—to put in the tracker later.

DR: Do the e-stewards from the other boats gather together to share data?

MG: On the Bermuda Race website there’s a kind of best practices and you have the opportunity to share whatever you did aboard your boat, like “this is what we did, or this was our idea, this is what worked for us.” It was fun. 11th Hour Racing got in on it and posted stuff about how to prevent marine mammal strikes. It’s just like I said earlier about education and having those resources at hand, and maybe you can take it and make it work for your boat. Just sharing ideas and making people aware of what’s going on is I think super cool.

DR: This is a long race, obviously, what would be some recommendations for shorter in-shore coastal races?

MG: I think the cool thing, and what I hope to see going forward is we take some of the aspects of what we got going on for this race and you apply them to all the other ones or even just when going out on your boat for the day. I mean it’s easy to be like, “oh I’ll just grab some plastic water bottles,” – it’s so easy to also just have your boat stocked up with, say, [reusable] water bottles 1 through 10 and when people come on the boat they know they can use them or bring their own. Like, have those policies in place and share them with your crew so that whether it’s sailing around the bay or doing smaller races, you have the expectations set.