Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 digs deep into world’s oceans plastic pollution

This is a complete wrap up of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 3rd leg in Cape Town, South Africa two weeks ago. The glamorous global yacht race -a.ka. the F1 Race of the Seas – is currently leaving Melbourne for Hong Kong (Tuesday morning, 02 December 2018) and carries aloft its masts, a crucial message about the increasing swelling of the world’s oceans with micro-plastics.

The theme of the race is Turn The Tide Against Plastics


Cape Town: 03 January 2018

The world’s maritime sector is stepping up its fight against pollution of the seas, with particular focus currently being on plastics pollution of the oceans, and in the mix of tools being deployed in the war is water sports.

At the pinnacle of the world’s water racing sports codes now fully engaged against oceans plastic pollution is the Sweden driven global yacht race, the Volvo Ocean Race; a multi-billion rand oceans yacht race equated to the Formula One (F1) annual car racing event, and run every two years across the world’s oceans over a period of just over 260 days at a time.

The 2017/8 Volvo Ocean Race is currently underway, having kicked off with seven yachts in Portugal in November, with a stopover in Cape Town 20 days ago, and now presently departing Melbourne in Australia  for the 6000 nautical miles 4th leg towards Hong Kong, which the yachts should reach in about 20 days (20/1 January 2018).

DSC_2429On arrival in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront for the South Africa leg on November 24, topping celebratory activities to mark the two weeks’ stopover lasting until 10 December, were two, two-day United Nations-driven conferences focused on collaborative efforts for sustainable oceans management

Following to these in the second week, was also a two-day Volvo Ocean Race sponsors’ Oceans Summit on proposed global cooperative actions for the combating of the growing menace of plastics pollution of the world’s oceans that’s said to be increasing at an alarming rate.

Put differently, seven (7) full working days out of 14 of the Volvo Ocean Race stop-over in South Africa from 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017 were devoted entirely to discussions and information sharing on sustainable oceans management as well as current and proposed actions to combat plastics pollution of the world’s oceans.

Crucially, organizers of the separately staged yet thematic-linked discussion forums were emphatic on the importance of the use of the Volvo Ocean Race as a creative tool to draw the general public’s attention to the oceans management issues, but also as an ideal platform for information sharing particularly about the problems of plastics pollution of the world’s seas.

DSC_2265The Volvo Ocean Race now in its 13th edition since launch 42 years ago is a major drawcard to a global mixed audience of millions of people in 113 countries, and shored up by more than 8000 hours of global television coverage with an average media value of 47.5 euros (2015 values). Corporate sponsors also number in the thousands.

In Cape Town alone, an estimated two-million people take time out to watch the race or visit the yachts’ yard during the two weeks stop over at the iconic V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, located at no more than a kilometre off the foot of Table Mountain, at Victoria Bay.

According to organizers, the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 edition is the first of its kind to focus attention on plastics pollution of the oceans, and its involvement goes beyond providing a platform for publicity and discussion, but also involves direct participation by the racing yachts in collecting scientific data on the extent of the spread of plastics at sea as well as their impact.

A number of scientific consortium are involved in the problem solving endeavor, among them the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), JCOMMPS, UNESCO-IOC, GEOMAR and SubTech.


In partnership, the agencies use the Volvo Ocean Race to collect both meteorological and oceanographic data for a better understanding of oceans weather patterns, but also for the first time, use of instrumentation for the measurement of CO2 as well as collection of samples of microplastics increasingly swelling the seas waters.

In the following three videos recorded in Cape Town two weeks ago, Ms Celine Greuzard, Communications director of the Volvo Group, Ms Anne-Cecile Turner, the Sustainability Programme Leader of the Volvo Ocean Race and Mr Richard Brisius, President of the Volvo Ocean Race explain the rationale of the involvement of the global yacht race in the maritime world’s fight against oceans plastics pollution.


In the following four videos, Mr David Green, chief executive officer of the V&A Waterfront shares his organization’s perspective of and role in the Volvo Ocean Race to South Africa, while Mr Bruce Parker-Forsyth, MD of Worldsport shares the South Africa perspective of the race to local socio-economic development, and Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) explains the role played by the State agency in monitoring and combating oceans pollution by ships, in terms of both local legislation as well as conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to which South Africa is a member.

In the next two videos, Dr Ivone Mirpuri of the Portugal based Mirpuri Foundation – and contributor during the Volvo Ocean Race Cape Town Oceans Summit – and Mr Ulrich van Bloemenstein of the Department of Environmental Affairs share their views of the event.

Meanwhile, South Africa which in 2017 became the venue of several continental and global meetings on plastics pollution of the seas, these including an Africa Oceans Plastic Pollution Seminar over five days, should see more increased action in the coming year, according to Ms Silindile Mncube.

She is the South Africa leader of the ‘Let’s Do It’ international NGO involved in plastics pollution combating initiatives.

During the Volvo Ocean Race Oceans Summit in Cape Town, she shared the NGO’s plans to actively getting involved in South Africa and the rest of the continent, with the launch of a dedicated “plastics cleanup day” during 2018.

And finally, in the last three videos below; is an overview of the UN Sustainable Oceans Management two-day conference that also involved a visit to Robben Island….

followed by Mr Adnan Award, South Africa director of the International Oceans Institute (IOI) who gives an overview of the entire oceans management and pollution combating gatherings held during the Volvo Ocean Race’s South Africa leg….

and Mr Rafe Axelson gives local boat building industry’s view of the importance of the race to the sector locally.

For videos of the UN Sustainable Management Conference, Click Here, and for more general videos and photos of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/8 South Africa leg, Click Here.


Johannesburg is a freak city in a country largely maritime!

Pretoria: 07 November 2015


A week ago, South Africa saw the launch of the country’s Marine Tourism & Leisure strategy aimed at providing for the first time a coherent road map forward for the sub-sector of South Africa’s maritime economic sector and the latter whose focused development, transformation and integration into the main economy is deemed highly important, as clearly articulated in the current Operation Phakisa: (Ocean Economy) national campaign.

IMG_0709Launch of the strategy by its developer, the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) together with partners Worldsport and the V&A Waterfront, supported by financial sponsors, Calulo Group and several others; occurred during an inaugural national Ocean Festival held at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

The country’s media covered the event and picked up on key salient points.

There were salient points all right! For one thing, an interesting fact to surface was that Johannesburg is effectively a freak city, given that all around the world, cities its size are all maritime based as developed on the basis of sea trade.

For this and various other interesting illuminations, it is worth revisiting the historical event last weekend to listen carefully to the officials that presided over it and whose speeches told more than traditional media could master in its highly limited space and time.

IMG_0725As it transpired, on the evening of Friday, October 30, 2015; close on 100 guests gathered in a splendidly decorated marquee featuring a nautical theme, to be treated to fine sea food, a bit of friendly banter, but importantly, to share in the enthusiasm of the officials behind the event as they explained the genesis of the Marine Tourism & Leisure Strategy, its positioning within the development framework of the country’s maritime economic sector, as well its objectives for the marine sub-sector.

Focus on maritime economic sector the way to go for SA

David Green, CEO V&A Waterfront
David Green, CEO V&A Waterfront

The list of speakers on the evening, (and who incidentally were all given no more than five minutes each!) included (in order of appearance) V&A Waterfront CEO David Green.

Summarily, according to Mr Green; it was high time South Africans took to the oceans, and made use of the resource for wealth generation and sharing…….

(Please do note that audio is bad at first but improves dramatically thereafter with all the clips. Also, a video version of the speeches will be loaded soon on the “Reflections” page.)

South Africa is a maritime country. Johannesburg is a freak city!

Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, CEO SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)
Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, CEO SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Meanwhile, according to SAMSA CEO, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, the launch of the Marine Tourism & Leisure Strategy marked what he described as; “the beginning of a change that one day, when our time shall have passed, from another media somewhere, we will look back and say, we thought it was a party for one day, but it happened to be a day marking the beginning of the change we have all wanted for our country…..

“The biggest frustration for all of us in the maritime sector,“ he said: “has been a failure to move the consciousness of our nation to the fact that we are a maritime country, a maritime people, who live off a maritime economy.” Importantly, he properly contextualized the entire weekend activity in terms of South Africa’s grand plan for the maritime economic sector.

Take a listen……

The private sector wants in…

Mkhuseli Faku, chairman Calulo Group
Mkhuseli Faku, chairman Calulo Group

Up next was Calulo Group Chairman, Mkhuseli Faku whose group of companies largely operational in maritime sector he said was excited about the openness the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reflected in its keen invitation to private sector companies to get involved and work closely with State entities. Because of it, he pledged future support of initiatives of the nature.

The Ocean Festival will be all over South Africa come 2016…

Bruce Parker-Forsyth, CEO Worldsport
Bruce Parker-Forsyth, CEO Worldsport

The final word on the evening fell on SAMSA partner in the Ocean Festival initiative, Worldsport, whose leader, Bruce Parker-Forsyth unpacked the Ocean Festival initiative going forward….

A fine evening of seafood, lighted boat parade, ocean sports and illuminating speeches for some 100 or so guests during the launch of the Ocean Festival and the country’s first coherent and comprehensive Marine Tourism and Leisure Strategy at the V&A Waterfront, in Cape Town