Making waves in offshore sailing

With three years to go until the start of the first edition of The Race Around, the organisers have announced the most innovative sustainability program in offshore racing. 

In a sailing first, the short-handed, multi-staged, round the world Class40 boat race will offer entry fee reduction incentives for competitors actively reducing the carbon impact of the boat building or refit process for the 2023 event. 

The Futures Program will examine the latest sustainable innovations in boat building, including Life Cycle Assessments (LCA’s) and the use of recyclable fibres and resins through a series of stakeholder workshops.

Commercial and academic partnerships will help The Race Around set a benchmark for understanding the carbon footprint of the entire boat building process and assess its financial impact. This insight will then be shared with key industry players.

The data is also to be used to set, for the first time in offshore racing, a new class and industry standard through the introduction of a mandatory carbon budget for boats taking part in the second edition of the race in 2027.

In the run up to the race, the ‘Futures Ocean Racing Team’ will create a living case study by building a recyclable Class40, using the most up to date processes, to showcase the capabilities of the materials in class regattas and at industry events around the globe. The selected team will be made up of a young, mixed-gender crew. 

Ways to extend the lifespan of existing Class40 boats and integrate sustainable approaches to refitting as well as tackling the problems of end of life disposal of fibreglass boats form additional elements of The Futures Program.

Sam Holliday, co-founder of The Race Around, said: “Globally, we are seeing a radical shift in attitudes and practices across businesses and within society to deliver a greener future and our objective is to build momentum within the sailing world, through Class40 and The Race Around, to be part of that push for real, data driven change.

“We are witnessing a growing demand for ways to extend the life of older generation Class40 boats and reduce the carbon impact of the boat building process by integrating the latest innovations and cutting edge technology. The Futures Program will prove their capabilities, through a collaborative program involving academics and key industry players, sharing the findings to achieve large scale transformation.  

“Whilst this increased understanding will have far reaching benefits for the sailing industry, it’s absolutely transferable to other businesses and industries in offering solutions that help the transition towards a more circular economy.”

The Futures Program has also committed to developing a robust education program that focuses on local issues within each host city. Further to this it will look to unite students around one global environmental project. Throughout the entire program, opportunities to engage and further the involvement of women within the industry will be highlighted with development pathways and mentorship being key. At stopovers, the highest sustainability standards for event production will be adhered to. 

Enrico Benco, co-founder of GS4C and founding partner of The Race Around’s Futures Program, said that Class40 is the perfect test bed for new innovations, such as recyclable fibre and resins.

Class rules allow sailors to compete using boats made from sustainable and recyclable materials so by working with universities and the Futures Ocean Racing Team we have the opportunity to prove they don't impact performance and safety.

“Previously, there has been much talk but little real action to address because of the perceived cost implications and quality of the sustainable alternatives. We’re here to dispel that myth and be a force for real change,” said Enrico.

Starting from the French coast, the race route will take in the three great Capes, crossing the Southern Ocean, before arriving back in Europe in spring 2024. 

Photo 1: Billy Black

Photo 3: Billy Black


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