Beyond the Beach Clean Up - Yago Lange - Sailors for the Sea

Beyond the Beach Clean Up – Yago Lange

By: Amber Stronk | February 21, 2020

beach clean up, yago lange

Yago Lange is an Argentinian sailor who placed seventh in the 49er race at the 2016 Summer Olympics alongside his brother, Klaus. He is the son of six-time Olympic sailor and naval architect, Santiago Lange. Yago is an environmentally active and influential sailor who helped to organize the #Sailors4TheSea beach clean ups at this year’s Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Spain and Volvo Europeans in Weymouth. Over 500 sailors at three different locations collected large amounts of pollution from the Mallorca and Weymouth regatta locations. Yago continues to be the driving force behind many beach and harbor clean up projects and hopes that more sailors around the world work to make a difference when it comes to the health of our oceans.

Sailors for the Sea’s Communication Manager, Amber Stronk, had the chance to talk with Yago about his experience on the water and how he’s making changes in his own lifestyle to limit his plastic consumption and inspire other to get involved in more sustainable events.

Amber Stronk: Can you tell me a bit about your sailing background?

Yago Lange: I tried sailing when I was a kid in Buenos Aires, but I didn’t like it. Then I came back in 2009 when I was 20 years old and have been sailing for the last 12 years. I sailed Lasers and for the last 6 years I have sailed the 49er. I participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio as well as sailing big boats in Europe and South America.

AS: What are some of the negative impacts on ocean health that you have witnessed being on the water?

YL: I see a lot of plastic pollution everywhere I sail. I remember in the Rio Olympics I saw a lot of pollution and bad things in the water and the river.
AS:  What was your “aha moment” that turned you into a conservationist?

YL: In December 2018, while I was training in Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, I saw a lot of trash after the days it was raining. One day I picked up a bag full of trash while launching the boat. I decided to participate in a beach clean-up and we collected 3 tons of trash in 1 hour with 100 volunteers. I realized that many of the items we collected were the same items I consume in my daily life, so I decided to challenge myself to avoid them.

AS: How has the sport of sailing and the ocean impacted your life?

YL: Both things have changed… I started sailing when I was 20 and did it for 12 years full time. It helped shape my personality and has been a great chapter in my life. Sailing has given me the opportunity to travel around the world and learn from other cultures. As an athlete you learn about sacrifice and passion and how to enjoy the moments. When I started organizing beach clean-ups and fighting against plastic pollution, I realized there is a big problem that we all need to face and we need to change this reality. The beach clean-ups have opened my eyes and I’ve met really cool people and have learned many things about nature. My experience sailing and observing changes in ocean health have been significant and life changing journeys.

AS: How do you think a community of Green Boaters dedicated to protecting the ocean can be impactful?

Where can we make an impact is a really good question that we should all ask ourselves. First, we should try to challenge ourselves and our habits. Avoiding single-use plastic is a big first step and reducing our overall waste production. It’s important to think about what things we need and which ones we don’t. It’s a different situation in a developing country than in an undeveloped country, so we need to adapt to each situation. Each person can create an impact and make changes, so that personal journey is unique for everyone.

AS: What commitments have you made towards restoring ocean health and what would you challenge other Green Boaters to do?

YL: The first beach clean-up opened my eyes when we collected 3 tons of trash and realized many of the items were the same ones we were using during our trainings. I challenge myself to avoid and reduce plastic bottles, plastic bags and single-use items altogether. Also, I will check the items we have onboard and see if we can reduce them (for example, sails, ropes, gloves, neoprene). Additionally, I commit to organize beach-clean ups everywhere I go and leave places cleaner than when I found them. I want to help others realize there is a huge problem and we need to work as a group to solve it. Last year as Olympic sailors we made sure to have a positive outlook in regard to ocean health. It’s been hard to face so many polluted areas, but the people who are pushing for change gives me the energy to keep trying for more.

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