This past week, the St. Barths Bucket, the St. Thomas International Regatta and the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival all participated in our Clean Regattas program. With their bright blue waters and precious coral reefs, the Caribbean is well renowned as a tropical paradise to most who visit.
However with minimal resources for waste management, poor recycling infrastructure, and access to clean water – “going green” is becoming an important topic in the Caribbean. Our new program coordinator, Tyson Bottenus, “drew the short straw” and had to leave snowy New England for St. Thomas and Tortola. Poor guy.
All of the regattas took different approaches to reduce their environmental impact and we were impressed by regatta organizers’ ingenuity! In 1998, St. Barths was the first French municipality to start a recycling program and regatta organizers were able to take advantage of this by having recycling at their event!
Many Caribbean islands do not have recycling, and it was great to see that the St. Thomas Yacht Club was able to introduce aluminum can recycling at their regatta, which can make a big impact for a sailing event. Additionally, bartenders focused on reducing plastic by not handing out straws and a mobile pumpout boat was on hand to empty spectator boats’ marine sanitation devices.
The BVI Spring Regatta has been part of the Clean Regattas program for six years and was certified as a gold level regatta for the third year in a row! This year, race organizers introduced the “Most Green Boat Award” that will reward a boat based on information received during registration along with environmental steps taken throughout the week. Like in previous years, reusable water bottles were given out and trophies were made with repurposed wood.
We are very excited to continue working with all three events to grow awareness about ocean health concerns amongst the boating community and to help them further reduce their environmental impact next year!