‘Race for Water’ Expedition Visits Hawaii


The Solar Impulse plane remains stalled in Nagoya, awaiting the next weather window to continue on to Hawaii on its historic around-the-world journey.  But today, another globe-spanning expedition reached island shores: the MOD70, a 69-foot multi-hull racing sailboat sponsored by the Race for Water Foundation, is in Honolulu as part of a 300 day, 40,000-nautical mile journey.

The MOD70 arrived in Hawaii after more than three weeks at sea, traveling from its last stop at Easter Island. The Race for Water team has two objectives for its Honolulu visit: continuing to collect marine and environmental data to build a database of information on marine pollution, and meeting with local experts in marine science and ocean conservation.

“The American archipelago has been suffering enormously from marine pollution for several years and has therefore developed valuable experience in this area,” explains the Race for Water website.

On the data collection side, the team is following a protocol modeled after one used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the crew is supplementing that information collection with a senseFly eBee drone, collecting images that will be analyzed by partner researchers at Oregon State and Duke universities. The ultimate goal is to develop new methods for detecting waste on the macro scale.

“Marine litter is a real scourge, and it is crucial that we act quickly and on a grand scale,” said foundation president Marco Simeoni. “Understanding the sources, the volumes as well the ways litter is managed locally is also essential in order to be able to put to use enough information and tools to be able to propose concrete solutions.”

The team is in Hawaii until June 28, its local itinerary including sampling stops at Kahuku, Makapuu, and Kahana beaches on Oahu and at Papakolea and Punalu’u on the Big Island.


The Race for Water odyssey is a scientific sailing expedition that aims to safeguard oceans from plastic pollution. The journey began in March in Bordeaux, France, and includes 11 scientific stopovers (of which Honolulu is one) and nine outreach stopovers. When completed, the sailboat will have visited 13 countries.

While at sea, the crew will be focused on visiting and studying several floating waste gyers.

“Marine plastic pollution is alarming and we must quickly find sustainable collection and valorization solutions… [but] to devise solutions, we must fully understand the problem,” Simeoni said at the start of the voyage. “I am confident that when we return from this expedition, we will have genuine leads for developing solutions that will preserve our oceans.”

Simeoni is a Swiss businessman who built his fortune in the telecommunications field, and who decided to dedicate his efforts to ocean preservation. He’s accompanied on the expedition by famous Swiss navigator Stève Ravussin.

“The sea has given me so much; it enabled me to make a name for myself,” Ravussin said. “The time has come for me to return the favor by showing the extent to which the sea is suffering from our actions.”

For live updates on the MOD70 Race for Water odyssey, check out the interactive map on the official site. You can also follow the expedition on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on YouTube, and on Google+.


Images courtesy Race for Water.

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