Denmark SailGP Team aiming for More Speed Less Plastic in 2023

Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner
January 10, 2023

Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL and One Ocean Foundation have launched More Speed Less Plastic – a ground-breaking initiative that will convert the team’s eye-watering speeds in SailGP into action to help clean, protect and restore our ocean.

The initiative, which will launch ahead of Singapore Sail Grand Prix on 14-15 January, will see the Danish team commit to a plastic waste pledge based on its top speed in every SailGP event, with the goal of diverting and recycling around eight tonnes of ocean-bound plastic trash before the end of Season 3.

In simple terms, the faster the team goes, the more ocean-bound plastic trash will be collected – and given a second life. That means that the Danish team isn’t just racing for the win in SailGP, but also to reduce the amount of plastic pollution which is currently impacting the health of our seas.

And they have the perfect tool to do it: a foiling SailGP F50 catamaran, capable of hitting speeds close to 100km/hr, powered only by the wind.

According to UNEP, around eight to 10 million metric tons of plastic trash end up in the ocean environment every year – waste which could pose negative impacts on the health of our ocean, and life within it.

Time for urgent action

Nicolai Sehested, driver of Denmark SailGP Team, explains: “We’re excited to launch this new initiative, which rewards us for doing what we do best – racing fast in our F50. It’s a fantastic motivation for the team that we are able to protect our ocean as we race in SailGP, but there is an important message that we want to highlight too.”

He adds: “It’s time to take urgent action to reduce our impact on the seas. Through the More Speed Less Plastic initiative, we want to highlight that time for talk is over – we need to work collectively to accelerate solutions and take action to help solve the plastic problem.”

No compromise between performance, innovation and sustainability

As well as rewarding the Denmark SailGP Team’s speed in every remaining Sail Grand Prix of Season 3, ROCKWOOL and One Ocean Foundation have also pledged to offset on behalf of the fastest SailGP team in each event.

Mirella Vitale, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Branding and Public Affairs at ROCKWOOL, explains: “ROCKWOOL is delighted to support, with Denmark SailGP Team and One Ocean Foundation, the More Speed Less Plastic initiative, which aims to show that there is no compromise between performance, innovation and sustainability – in fact, we need all of the above to solve our ocean health crisis quickly.”

She continues: “When we partnered with Denmark SailGP Team in SailGP, we wanted to raise the bar and set new standards both on and off the water. This unique initiative will shine a light on the collective challenges we are all facing, whilst motivating our athletes to race for a better planet, powered by nature.”

Driving circular economy

Denmark SailGP Team will work with One Ocean Foundation to calculate a diversion target based on its top speed in each SailGP event. For every kilometre per hour that the team hits, the initiative aims to divert and recycle at least 10 kilograms of ocean-bound plastic waste.

The goal is that around eight tonnes of ocean-bound plastic waste will be intercepted before the end of SailGP Season 3 in May 2023.

Jan Pachner, Secretary-General at the One Ocean Foundation, adds: “The state of our ocean is a collective problem, and one that requires leadership, collaboration and urgency.

“We’re delighted to partner with the Denmark SailGP Team and ROCKWOOL on this More Speed Less Plastic project, which will reward SailGP teams for their achievements on the water, whilst helping to showcase innovative solutions off it,” he continues.

“These initiatives don’t only help to protect the ocean but have also an important social impact – giving plastic trash a true value by supporting the collectors in the local water-side communities often found in less privileged regions of our planet.”

Leading sports teams to a plastic positive future

As part of SailGP’s Impact League, each SailGP team is independently audited on a range of areas in every Sail Grand Prix – including waste management.

Denmark SailGP Team has been working closely with One Ocean Foundation to reduce its impact in team operations through Season 3 – and this has led the team to two Impact League wins in 2022, leaving it in contention for the Impact League win going into the final four events of Season 3.

“As Danish sailors, sustainability is in our DNA, and we are all passionate about our ocean. It’s not just our race track in SailGP, it’s where we’ve grown up, and it’s where we spend our free time,” continues Sehested.

“That’s why we set an ambitious goal of becoming a plastic-positive team, and we’re proud that with the guidance of One Ocean Foundation and ROCKWOOL, we’re on track to achieve that ambition before the end of Season 3. More Speed Less Plastic is an engaging way for us to reach our goal, whilst showcasing just how exciting the racing in SailGP can be.”

Sehested is a two-time round-the-world racer, and has seen first-hand the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans – even in some of the most remote spots on Earth, like Point Nemo in the Southern Ocean – and describes the feeling of seeing plastic floating in places thousands of miles offshore, where the boats are often closer to the astronauts in the International Space Station, than any other human on land.

“When you have seen the scale of the impact we are making on our natural environment with your own eyes, you can’t ignore it – I’ve seen plastic floating thousands of miles from shore, in places almost untouched by civilisation,” he explains.

“With the help of One Ocean Foundation, we have spent the first phase of Season 3 identifying and reducing our single-use plastic footprint, and ensuring that we’re changing behaviours in the team, both on site at SailGP, and at home in the off-season.”

He continues: “Unfortunately, we don’t live in a plastic-free world, so some interactions with single-use plastics still occur. That’s where strategic interception and diversion, through a trusted platform provided by One Ocean Foundation, can allow us to compensate those day-to-day consumptions which can’t be prevented.”

Season 3 of SailGP continues with the Singapore Sail Grand Prix on 14-15 January, before heading to Sydney, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand in February and March, ahead of the grand final in San Francisco, USA in May 2023.

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