Sailors for the Sea Launches Clean Class - Sailors for the Sea

Sailors for the Sea Launches Clean Class

Press Release

This initiative aims to grow an environmentally focused culture within one design fleets

Sailors for the Sea Skipper Mike Ingham, left, spearheaded the Clean Class initiative with the Thistle Class

May 9, 2023

For Immediate Release

Newport, RI: Today, Sailors for the Sea Powered by Oceana announces the launch of its Clean Class initiative, which recognizes entire classes of boats whose members are committed to sustainability. This initiative encourages one-design fleets to implement Clean Regattas best practices into class-wide operations and events, expanding the positive impact sailors can have on our oceans and waterways. 

The Clean Class initiative is open to any interested one design fleets, regardless of membership size or number of events. All that is required is a desire to lessen the class’s environmental impact. Clean Classes rely on the Clean Regattas framework, which encourages events to eliminate single-use items, protect sensitive habitats and work with local organizations. For Clean Class recognition, 25 percent of a class’s events need to achieve at least a Bronze-level Clean Regatta certification. 

The Thistle Class, which has more than 50 active fleets across the United States, worked with Sailors for the Sea to develop and pilot the Clean Class initiative. The Thistles’ dedicated leadership and volunteers worked to determine the steps necessary to scale up the sustainability success of individual regattas. During the first full year of the pilot in 2021, the Thistle Class registered 21 new Clean Regattas, a 420% increase in Thistle events participating in the program. In 2022, six additional events registered, with many of the recurring regattas achieving higher levels of sustainability certification. 

“The Thistle Class has been a longtime advocate of sustainability. We wanted to take it to the next level by having sound common practices, and a process to share ideas and set class goals,” said Mike Ingham, Thistle Class Champion and Sailors for the Sea Skipper. “By working closely with Sailors for the Sea, we leveraged their expertise with an emphasis on their successful Clean Regattas program. Our goal is to reduce the environmental impact at as many Thistle events as possible. Because of this initiative, we see a deepening ‘clean’ culture throughout the Thistle Class, top down, from class leaders through event organizers, clubs, and sailors.” 

“Working directly with one design classes creates consistent expectations for all participants and provides resources for organizers and class leadership when addressing sustainability challenges,” said Emily Conklin, who as Sailors for the Sea’s Program Manager oversees the Clean Regattas program and Clean Class initiative. “The commitment of the Thistle Class to this pilot and advancing environmental stewardship through their events has been exciting to see. Their dedication is a model for other passionate sailors looking to protect the environment they love. With hundreds of classes around the world, participation in the Clean Class initiative will have a significant positive impact for our oceans and waterways.” 

Most sailors are advocates for protecting their waters, and sustainability is at the forefront of many regattas. The Clean Class initiative provides guidance and the tools necessary to help standardize sustainability initiatives across class events. Sailors for the Sea looks forward to working with interested class associations to support and grow this community of sailors who are taking action to restore the health of our seas.  

Learn more: Clean Class Initiative 

About Clean Regattas:  

Clean Regattas is the world’s leading sustainability certification for all water-based events, providing event organizers with a framework of 20 best practices that will protect and restore the health of our waters, including engaging the local community, reducing pollution, protecting sensitive habitats, and limiting single-use plastics. Since the program’s inception in 2006, more than 3,400 events and 850,000 sailors in 53 countries have helped protect our oceans and waterways by participating in Clean Regattas.  

About Sailors for the Sea Powered by Oceana:  

Sailors for the Sea Powered by Oceana is the world’s leading ocean conservation organization that engages and activates the sailing and boating community toward restoring ocean health. Sailors for the Sea was founded in 2004 by David Rockefeller, Jr. and Dr. David Treadway, two avid sailors who recognized the importance of educating this constituency of ocean enthusiasts. In 2018, Sailors for the Sea joined forces with Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Combining Sailors for the Sea’s goal of educating boaters about marine conservation with Oceana’s experience mobilizing supporters to advocate for policy that supports healthy and abundant oceans, the organization is achieving global reach.

Contact: Jennifer Brett,, 401.846.8900, 449 Thames Street 300D, Newport, RI 02840