SailGP’s new Impact League will encourage teams to make long standing changes to combat climate change, reckons Team Spain’s Phil Robertson and Team United States’ Cooper Dressler.
The Impact League was officially launched in Plymouth this week ahead of the third race of the season and ranks teams on positive actions they take to combat climate change.
And Robertson said: “We've all been learning about it, getting educated a lot and are starting to put it into practice, all the rules and guidelines we're following.
“We're auditing everything we're using, we're really conscious of our fuel consumption and all of our travel plans as well. We're really dialled in and really efficient now, trying to share transport wherever we can.”
Dressler added: “Within the US team we start small at a grassroots level. We try to make sure that all of our waste goes in the correct areas, we try to use multiple use items for food and drink. We work on water purification so we're not relying on bottled water.”
The race to win the Impact League was stoked by recent comments from Ben Ainslie, who said he would be ‘embarrassed’ to win SailGP but finish last in the Impact League.
And Robertson and Dressler also admit finishing last is something they are desperately trying to avoid.
“In a way, the Impact League is a metaphor as to what we need to do as a population to help prevent climate change. I think we would be very embarrassed to finish first in the racing and last in the Impact League,” said Dressler.
Robertson added: “I think we were leading the first event of the Impact League in Bermuda and we dropped down a bit at the last event.
“We're taking a good hard look at that, our impact and what we're doing as a team behind the scenes as opposed to what we're doing on the water as well. It's very much a competition that we're willing to win.”
SailGP is the first sport’s league of any kind to introduce such a league and it is perhaps particularly crucial for sailing, with rising sea levels putting 800m people across the globe at risk by 2050.
Both Dressler and Robertson hope other sports follow sailing’s lead in tackling climate change.
“The impact on the world is going to be huge by 2050. This is our playground, our racetrack and it's something we've got to preserve,” said Robertson
“We're doing all we can to preserve it and the more we can educate people and make a bit noise about it as well the better it's going to be for the world.”
Dressler said: “I think it sets a great example for other sports around the world. Sport is something that can always try harder to reduce its climate and carbon footprint. Things like reducing unsustainable or non-renewable fuels we use to operate our events.
“It all matters and because sport is such a massive part of the world we live in it can only help if everyone does their part.”
The Impact League is a new initiative designed to make sustainability action essential to the fabric of sport. To find out more about the Impact League visit SailGP.com/ImpactLeague