(L-R): Charlotte McDevitt, Green VI; Tyson Bottenus, Sailors for the Sea; Judy Petz, Regatta Director; Anne Poor, Regatta Coordinator
By Lisa Ramsperger
NANNY CAY, BVI -- In keeping with best practices for the Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta program, the regatta committee has added a Most Green Boat Award to the 2014 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival honours. The award joins to a long list of sustainability efforts incorporated throughout the event. Sailors for the Sea also recognized the regatta with Gold Level Clean Regattas certification.
The Most Green Boat Award will be presented based on information received during registration along with environmental steps taken throughout the week. Participants will complete a simple survey designed to build awareness of their actions and inform all of the regatta's best practices. Additional observation at the dock and on water, including watching environmental actions, using refillable water bottles, and recycling plastic from boats, will also help determine the winner.
"It is our responsibility and duty to not only plan for participants to have excellent sailing races, but that we share and educate those attending to take care of the playground on which we sail," stated Judy Petz, regatta director. "The British Virgin Islands and its three bodies of water -- the Atlantic Ocean, Sir Francis Drake Channel and the Caribbean Sea -- are all impacted by what we do on both land and sea."
Each year, the regatta committee looks for effective ways to share important environmental information with more than 800 sailors, 200 volunteers and over 3,000 total visitors who will come through the regatta village at Nanny Cay. Many of the regatta sponsors have contributed to the efforts. The collective activities led to the regatta's sixth consecutive Clean Regatta certification from the Sailors for the Sea.
"Clean Regattas -- a voluntary certification program -- is Sailors for the Seas' flagship program, helping regattas achieve higher environmental standards," said Tyson Bottenus, program coordinator with Sailors for the Sea. "We are very excited to recognize and work with the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival as we feel they are the gold standard among environmentally friendly and sustainable regattas in the Caribbean. The regatta makes sustainability a major pillar in their programming and legacy, and they continue to maintain a high level of commitment to the environment, along with introducing new initiatives like the Most Green Boat Award. If we're going to make progress to cleaning up environmental degradation in the Caribbean, we need to start looking at sustainability in a different light."
Charlotte McDevitt, executive director of Green VI, and Annie MacPhail, owner of Nutmeg Designs, are working with the regatta committee and the event's Green Rangers program to oversee the Most Green Boat program and other festival sustainability initiatives. Nutmeg Designs and Green VI are donating the awards.
The Green Ranger's program was established for the 2009 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. Each year, a group of local youth assists in implementing green measures, including this year's new refillable water bottle initiatives. The 2014 Green Rangers are members of the Rotary Club of Tortola's Rotratocrs, and they will work in conjunction with Green VI and GreenTech.
McDevitt has been working towards a vision of a green, clean, healthy and prosperous British Virgin Islands, helping educate and reduce trash. Green VI was awarded UNESCO funding for Environmental Education, and the organization will take the regatta's recycled materials. MacPhail's company, Nutmeg Designs, is the British Virgin Islands' only sustainable goods shopping experience, featuring jewelry, furniture, home accents and used sailcloth products. MacPhail also helped create the Most Green Boat Award survey.
Among the additional measures incorporated to create a more sustainable regatta:
• Distribute and use refillable water bottles
• Support of local Green Team volunteers to keep shores and water clean and dispose of trash and recyclables properly
• Provide and promote recycling services in conjunction with Green VI
• Reduce carbon footprint by lowering energy use or purchasing carbon offsets
• Establish a compost system to distribute scraps from food vendors to local pig farmers
• Use of electronic registration services and 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper
• Use of B20 or higher biodiesel or vegetable oil fuels
• Use of only non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products
• Prevent discharge of untreated sewage or backwater
• Reduce gray water - runoff of phosphates and nitrates
• Require motorized vessels to carry oil spill kits
• Use of durable or biodegradable products for all event activities, including by food vendors
• Use of only non-toxic, copper-free bottom paints
• Prevent bottom cleaning in harbor and sensitive areas
• Conduct maintenance activities in approved areas using mitigation measures
• Implement a storm water management system
• Present recycled or practical race awards
Refillable water bottles will be distributed to race participants, and bottles will also be sold for $5 in the race village. All proceeds from the sale of the bottles are distributed to Green VI and Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR), an all-volunteer, on-water medical emergency response team.
The 2014 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival kicked off on Monday with registration and the opening party. Racing began on Tuesday with the Nanny Cay Round Tortola Race, with the regatta running April 4-6.