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

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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.

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Toasting home grown talent: Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Ashton Sampson

DSC_2538CAPE TOWN: 06 December 2017

The Volvo Ocean Race is generally regarded worldwide as the most supreme water sailing sport in the world, and with good reason. Oceans sailing skill and talent combined with the most modern technology in yacht racing over a period of over 260 days at sea at a time, simply positions the sport at the top of rankings of its kind.

For South Africa, the Volvo Ocean Race would mean pretty much very little without its direct participation and contribution, both as a touching point during the race’s course around the world, and for the opportunities it offers for business investment especially in the boat manufacturing and repair sector, as well as the marine tourism and hospitality sectors.

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Crew members of the Vestas team who took third place on the South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

Strategically positioned as the gateway to the southern ocean, South Africa but specifically Cape Town in the Western Cape has, according to organizers and local hosts of the event, always been a welcome sight for sailors and boat crews, not only because of its world renowned beauty and hospitality, but also due to the boat building maintenance and repair expertise in the city.

During a two week stop-over in the Mother City, this time around occurring in the window period of 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017, the race pumps into the local economy more than R500-million and in the process, creating new and expanded business and job opportunities for locals.

Such job opportunities are what have led to one young South African, a young electrical engineer from Grassy Park in the Cape Flats, Ashton Sampson, aspiring to and eventually joining the VoR Team a few years ago, and never having to look back again.

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South African born Volvo Ocean Race Team electrical engineer, Mr Ashton Sampson in Cape Town this week

Sampson dropped in back home this past week with the arrival of the VoR for the South Africa leg (second leg of the race overall) to do what he does best – making sure that the seven yachts are in tip top condition once again, when they sat sail for the third leg of the race on Sunday, 10 December 2017.

The yachts having started arriving on the afternoon of Friday, 24 November 2017, have  since been spending time in the dedicated VoR Boat Yard on the south western end of the Table Bay harbor where Sampson and teammates have been working long hours to ensure that the ‘Volvo 65’s’ will be in their best sailing condition to take on the 6 500 nautical mile journey to Melbourne, Australia.

This blog learned that 38 year-old Sampson developed a love for the ocean from a very young age and through hard work and determination, was able to become part of the Volvo Ocean Race team, known as the ‘best of the best’.

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Some boating business and Volvo Ocean Race enthusiasts visiting the VoR Boat Yard at the Cape Town habour near the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Educationally, he is the product of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), one of the top institutions in the country which working closely with other partners including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), produces top notch sailors and other maritime sector related graduates.

Sampson’s is a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering, which eventually led to his being hired and employed by London’s Diverse Yachts in 2009, which he then left in 2015 only to rejoin again in 2017.

DSC_2805.JPG“I’ve been passionate about sailing and electronics for as long as I can remember and always wanted to combine the two. I was given the opportunity to join the South African America’s Cup in 2004, which set a path in motion that I don’t regret at all.

“I work very hard and I think I have a good work ethic. I believe this always shows in the quality of my work and people notice this, said Sampson in an interview.

About his direct involvement with the VoR Team, speaking in a remarkably flawless English accent, he said: “We’ve been contracted to the Boatyard, a sub organisation of the Volvo Ocean Race, which has been setup to maintain all systems relating to the fleet.

“For the first edition of the one design fleet of Volvo 65’s in the 2014/15 race, I eventually ended up managing the installation phase of all the electronic systems across the fleet.

‘We were then appointed to maintain the fleet’s electronics as they raced around the world and worked closely with various suppliers.  This time round it’s a very similar setup, but we’ve refined the processes.”

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The ‘Gateway’ to the Volvo Ocean Race precinct at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

In between the times he has left and rejoined his current employer, Diverse Yachts, Sampson worked for the British America’s Cup team, Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing as a systems technician. His rejoining the former employee a few months ago was for serving specifically in the current VoR, he says.

This 2017/18 VoR South Africa leg stop over is not the first for him. He’d been here before, he told a group of local boat manufacturing and maintenance that visited the VoR boat yard a few days after the racing yachts docked.

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Crew members of the Mapfre, the first Volvo Ocean Race yacht to reach Cape Town on 24 November 2017

Describing his love for the F1 of yacht racing, Sampson said: “It takes a lot of professionalism and teamwork to make this race a success, both on and off the water. All the people across the fleet have very high standards and I thrive in this kind of environment. The hardest part is to always plan and anticipate events that the race will throw at you and being fully prepared for it.”

When on dry land, Sampson lives in a small town, Fareham, in the south of England near the coast with his fiancé. 

DSC_2517He admits to missing Cape Town and South Africa. “I mostly miss family and friends, but also the many attractions around Cape Town relating to nature; the local fauna and flora, animals, mountain ranges, oceans, inland lakes and friendly people. Cape Town is truly unique in this regard as it has so much to offer and explore.”

To stay close to the sight and smell of the ocean, and which his Fareham abode offers in abundance, Sampson said:  “I always live near the coast – I love being around water. My parents and most of my family are based in Cape Town and I generally visit at least once a year. Of course it helps that the race is in my home town. Cape Town is most certainly the best stopover in the world!”

Sampson’s fellow South Africans on the team include Mike Coburn, who is involved in sail making through North Sails, and Simon Botes, who is involved in the hardware (deck gear, winches and more), dealing with Harken.

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Volvo Ocean Race 2017 in SA a platform for global dialogue on oceans economy: V&A Waterfront

DSC_2660CAPE TOWN: 01 December 2017

The two-weeks stopover of the almost year-long Volvo Ocean Race (VoR) at the Table Bay in Cape Town is more than just a prestigious international water sports event, but an opportunity for global engagement among stakeholders and interested parties on how best to develop and grow maritime economies on a sustainable basis.

DSC_2555.JPGAt least that is the view of the V&A Waterfront – one of the host venue sponsors of the VoR 2017/18 South African leg currently underway since about a week ago. Since the seven yachts dropped sails and switched off engines after touching ground at the V&A Waterfront, no less than four significant gatherings inclusive of two interrelated international conferences on oceans governance and sustainability have been held at the venue, with a few more lined up for the second and last week of the VoR 2017/18 leg.

And that is the whole point, says V&A Waterfront managing director, Mr David Green who on Thursday afternoon told this blog that the global event presented South Africa not only a top class water sport event with millions of followers globally, but also a golden opportunity to engage with maritime sector stakeholders and interested parties worldwide on a whole range of oceans related issues, inclusive of environmental management best practices as well as investment opportunities.

DSC_2265.JPGFrom an economic development perspective, apart from the tourism and hospitality subsector that stands to gain a substantial portion of the estimated R500-million the VoR pumps into the Cape Town economy, South Africa’s marine manufacturing industry, but particularly the boat building subsector stands to benefit from association with the event, he says.

For the full three (3) minutes interview click below.

More updates to follow

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South Africa’s bid for retention of IMO seat underway in London

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Cape Town: 29 November 2017

South Africa’s bid to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) General Council got underway in earnest in London on Tuesday after the country’s deputy Transport Minister Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga addressed the assembly during its final gathering of 2017 which ends in early December.

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South Africa’s Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga address an International Maritime Organization (IMO) gathering in London on Monday. South Africa is bidding for retention of its seat in the IMO Council.

The IMO Council whose members are drawn from 40 Member States around the world, is the executive organ of the IMO responsible for supervising the work of the international organization. The IMO Council is elected by the IMO Assembly for two-year terms.

The IMO’s General Assembly meets for its last meeting in 2017 on 7 December.

For IMO purposes, the Africa (sub-Saharan) region is composed of 48 countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and of these, 37 are IMO Member States.

According to the IMO, the Africa region has a combined total coastline of 30,725 km with South Africa, – located epicenter across three oceans, the Atlantic to the west, the Southern in the south and the Indian Ocean to the east – accounting for approximately 10% or 3200 km of that coastline.

In her address of the IMO in London on Tuesday, Ms Chikunga noted that South Africa was the only country in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region of Africa standing for re-election in the IMO Council and in South Africa’s viewpoint, it was only correct that IMO Member States in Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Oceanic states should support the country’s retention as a member of the IMO Council.

“The re-election of South Africa to the Council will ensure that the developing countries in general and the African continent in particular gets a fair voice in the international maritime affairs,” said Ms Chikunga.

Ms Chikunga further highlighted several other factors in which South Africa remains a central player towards the IMO and the world’s pursuit of particularly sustainable development of oceans economies.

According to Ms Chikunga, shipping  which is responsible for more than 80% of global trade, continues to play a very critical and prominent role in connecting people worldwide which phenomenon she said placed the IMO at the epicentre of ensuring that such global activities were accomplished seamlessly, without unnecessary hindrances.

She said: “International trade is very central and critical to many African countries, whether landlocked or coastal states. In that regard, the Africa Union took a conscious decision to adopt the 2050 African Maritime Integrated Strategy (AIMS) which seeks to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of the African Maritime Domain for wealth creation. South Africa is actively operationalizing the provisions of that Strategy.

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File photo: Port of Ngqurha. South Africa’s only deep water port located in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.

For its role in global maritime trade transport, Ms Chikunga  said South Africa has eight (8) commercial ports that handle in excess of 13 100 international ship traffic a year and approximately 300 million tonnes of cargo annually.

Geographically, along with its own infrastructure, the country was strategically located on one of the major vital shipping lanes  known as the ‘Cape Route’ that connects east and west seas thereby placing the country among critical role-players in world maritime affairs.

These factors according to Ms Chikunga were significant given that the IMO plays a crucial role towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially on climate change and gender equality,  and South Africa is well placed to continue to support the initiatives  through collaborative efforts with relevant stakeholders.

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Some of the delegates to this week’s UN led conference on regional collaboration on the implementation of the ‘Large Marine Ecosystem Approach’ currently underway in Cape Town from 27 November – 01 December 2017 parallel the South Africa’s leg of the 2017/8 Volvo Ocean Race hosted at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront from 24 November to 10 December 2017

This she reflected on as a United Nations led conference is underway in Cape Town this week, looking at regional collaborations on the implementation of the ‘Large Marine Ecosystem Approach’ as an instrument towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 14. The conference is being held at the V&A Waterfront parallel this year’s South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

In London on Tuesday, Ms Chikunga also impressed on the IMO gathering that  alongside development, there also are  issues of safety and security that are  crucial to orderly management of the oceans.

“In support of international efforts to bring security and stability in the broader Indian Ocean under the Djibouti Code of Conduct, South Africa adopted a Strategy intending to curb acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships. In that regard, South Africa deployed her navy vessels along the Mozambique Channel as a deterrent to acts of piracy and armed robbery of ships in the southern Indian Ocean area,” said Ms Chikunga

In addition she said: “As part of our coastal State obligation, we continue to provide reliable Search and Rescue services to international shipping in our region which extends to the Antarctica.

“Furthermore, South Africa, through partnership with the IMO, has converted her highly reliable Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) to the Regional Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre Cape Town to assist ships in distress in the Region,” she said.

The South Africa bid to retain its seat on the IMO Council occurs as the southern African country prepares to host it’s inaugural IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020.

That event, tentatively scheduled for Durban, is intended to highlight the significant role of global shipping and the role of the IMO.

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Volvo Ocean Race a major contributor to South Africa’s oceans economy: V&A Waterfront

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WINNER: MAPFIRE, the first of seven of the yachts participating in this Volvo Ocean Race to arrive at port of Cape Town on Friday, 24 November 2017

Cape Town: 27 November 2017

The start of the global Volvo Ocean Race (VoR) South Africa leg at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town at the weekend is among highly significant water based international events that are a major contributor to development of the country’s oceans economy, event hosts; the V&A Waterfront has said.

Addressing local and international guests during the official opening of the event a few hours ahead of the arrival of the first of seven yachts participating in this year’s (2107/18) South Africa leg of the VoR across the world, V&A Waterfront CEO Mr David Green said on Friday that the event would contribute no less than R500-million to Cape Town’s economy during the two weeks stopover, from 24 November to 10 December 2017.

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The entry point to Quay Five – the venue of the South Africa leg of the Volvo Ocean Race (VoR) at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town; from 24 November 2017 to 10 December 2017

But crucially, the bi-annual event, he said; was a major contributor to marine tourism not only of the Western Cape but the entire country, generating opportunities for investment and expansion of businesses as well creation of much needed jobs throughout the country’s tourism sector value chain.

Local and international guests at the function included senior government officials as well as United Nations officials attending  the Cape Town Ocean Summit as well as the UN, UNESCO and International Ocean Institute ‘ocean sustainability’ conferences scheduled over five days from Monday to Friday (27 Nov to Dec 01) parallel the VoR.

Mr Green described the city of Cape Town as the ‘Number 1’ city in Africa for business tourism and its events and conferencing subsectors were a vital cog to the city’s economic growth strategy to develop and sustain a reputation as an investment and business destination.

DSC_2623According to Mr Green, the V&A Waterfront along with the city of Cape Town, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and several other notable entities are regular sponsors of the VoR based on an understanding of the catalyst role the biannual event has on current and future business investments in the country.

He said consistent with this understanding the V&A Waterfront had on its part, continued its own business investment along the Cape Town harbor , the latest being a new multi-million rand worth ‘silo district’ that has attracted more than 70 000 visitors since completion recently.

The VoR he said, with a multi-million television audience worldwide, in addition to the more than 1.5-million people that throng the stop-over areas such as the V&A Watefront, provided an opportunity for South Africa to showcase worldwide its expertise and leading role in a whole range of areas inclusive of its depth and breadth of scientific research into ocean trends in the Southern Oceans to Antarctica, its already globally recognized boat manufacturing capabilities as well as a growing corps of well trained seafarers and vessels crew.

“Far from it being a wealthy people’s sport, the Volvo Ocean Race is a catalyst and major contributor to development of our oceans economy,” said Mr Green.

For his full remarks click below

On hand to also welcome local and international guests was Cape Town City Councillor, Mr Eddie Andrews and for whose remarks, please click below:

The pair were led in the welcome speeches by Worldsport managing director, Mr Bruce Parker-Forsyth, a long time partner and host sponsor of the VoR. For his remarks click below.

After arriving a few hours apart from about 4pm on Friday, led by the Mapfire team, the VoR 2017/18 yachts have been undergoing thorough mechanical and cleaning services at the Cape Town harbour.

The MAPFIRE team (below in red) were the winners of the South Africa leg of the VoR.

Also below, is the crew of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team led by the American duo of Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, and whose yacht came third overall in the Cape Town’s VoR second leg. They were handed their trophy (for 11 points overall) by SAMSA’s Corporate Affairs senior manager, Ms Nthabiseng Tema.

The mechanical and cleaning services are at V&A Waterfront yacht zone.

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The specially set up Volvo Ocean Race yard west of the V&A Waterfront where spare parts and other paraphernalia for the racing yachts are located.

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South Africa’s inaugural Ocean Festival heralds the country’s new marine sector tourism and leisure strategy!

PRETORIA: October 15, 2015

South Africa’s oceans are to take on a wholly new, exciting approach to recreation and leisure, and deliver a further much needed boost to national marine tourism business and investment with the launch in October of a national Ocean Festival in Cape Town.

The sea location at the port of Cape Town near V&A Waterfront where the inaugural SA Ocean Festival takes place at end of October 2015.
The sea location at the port of Cape Town near V&A Waterfront where the inaugural SA Ocean Festival takes place at end of October 2015.

Initiated and driven by the SA Maritime Safety (SAMSA) Centre of Maritime Excellence together with partners, Worldsport and V&A Waterfront and backed by sponsors including investment firm, Calulo Group; the inaugural national Ocean Festival is the first of a series to be held annually, with plans to link it to the international Volvo Ocean Race every third year, and is aimed as a platform to further grow and expand the country’s marine tourism and leisure sector.

To read more… Click Here.