The Ocean Race 2022-23
11 boats and their teams are assembling in Alicante, Spain this week in final preparation for the start of The Ocean Race 2022-23.
This is the 14th edition of the iconic around-the-world, fully-crewed, offshore race and will be the first to feature five of the high-tech, foiling, nearly flying, IMOCA boats. Six VO65 fleet, having previously competed in two around the world events, will now take on a shorter challenge, competing for the inaugural The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint Cup, which features three stages of racing that match Legs 1, 6, and 7 of the around the world race.
As in true Ocean Race style this event has a goal beyond the racing – a goal of learning about the ocean.
The round-the-world sailing race will measure microplastic pollution, gather information about the impact of climate change on the ocean and collect data to improve global weather forecasting.
Every boat participating in the gruelling six-month around-the-world race will carry specialist equipment onboard to measure a range of variables throughout the 60,000km route, which will be analysed by scientists from eight leading research organisations to further understand the state of the ocean. Sailing through some of the most remote parts of the planet, seldom reached by scientific vessels, teams will have a unique opportunity to collect vital data where information is lacking on two of the biggest threats to the health of the seas: the impact of climate change and plastic pollution.
Launched during the 2017-18 edition of the Race in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing, Premier Partner of The Ocean Race and Founding Partner of the Racing with Purpose sustainability programme, the innovative science programme will capture even more types of data in the forthcoming Race, including for the first time levels of oxygen and trace elements in the water.
11th Hour Sustainability Program Manager, six-time Ocean Race participant and Irish Sailing Sustainability Ambassador, Damian Foxall launched the 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Policy back in 2019 and that policy has brought sustainability to the core of all the team’s operations and has grown to be the incredible campaign both Ocean Race and 11th Hour Racing follow today.
Stefan Raimund, Science Lead at The Ocean Race, said:
“A healthy ocean isn’t just vital to the sport we love, it regulates the climate, provides food for billions of people and supplies half the planet’s oxygen. Its decline impacts the entire world. To halt it, we need to supply governments and organisations with scientific evidence and demand they act on it.”
In total, 15 types of environmental data will be collected during The Ocean Race 2022-23, including:
Indicators of climate change: Two boats, 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Malizia, will carry OceanPacks, which take water samples to measure levels of carbon dioxide, oxygen, salinity and temperature, providing insights about the impact of climate change on the ocean.
Plastic pollution: GUYOT environment – Team Europe and Holcim – PRB will take regular water samples throughout the race to test for microplastics.
Meteorological data: The entire fleet will use onboard weather sensors to measure wind speed, wind direction and air temperature. Some teams will also deploy drifter buoys in the Southern Ocean to capture these measurements on an ongoing basis, along with location data, which helps to grow understanding about how currents and the climate are changing.
Ocean Biodiversity: Biotherm is collaborating with the Tara Ocean Foundation to trial an experimental research project to study ocean biodiversity during the Race.
Recent studies have highlighted how higher temperatures in the ocean are fuelling extreme weather events and sea levels are projected to rise at a faster rate than anticipated, while whales have been found to ingest millions of microplastics every day.
Collecting all this data will help us to understand our oceans and plan for our future.
“As Ocean athletes our sailors play the role of being the eyes and ears for the science community, the data they collect will be indefinitely valuable to understanding the ocean health in the future. The storytelling is crucial to this and Amory Ross our onboard reporter will bring this to life for the general public and our fans and followers, it is about shifting the perspective from being Ocean users to being Ocean Stewards.” Damain Foxall