Reducing our environmental footprint is not a new goal for the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. We have partnered with Sailors for the Sea, a leading conservation organization, to bring innovations to Caribbean regattas for the last decade. Our moto has always been “recycle, reuse, repurpose”. Living in a territory of islands surrounded by some of the most beautiful waters in the world has made us more cognizant of the fragile balance between man and nature. Since Irma and Maria devastated the BVI, creating 5 years of debris in two single day events, living responsibly and sustainably is more important than ever.
As pioneers aiming toward sustaining this wonderful land where we work and play, the BVI Spring Regatta has tried to up our game each year by adding new policies to extend our reach and allow us to impact our community more positively. We understand that reaching out allows a mutual understanding of the importance of education and practices that help us set priorities. The regatta allows us to use our international platform to educate others in ways that encourage people to become more aware of the effects their lifestyle choices have on the environment and the community and by doing so, encourage them to incorporate sustainability in their daily lives to protect our finite resources.
Among the measures the Spring Regatta has incorporated to create a more sustainable event are:
2008 Recycled glass and plastic during regatta even though there was no official recycling program on-island. Reserved for future recycling program.
2009 Became the first regatta recognized as a Clean Regatta by Sailors for the Sea with their Silver Certificate. Initiatives included; giving refillable water bottles with free water refills during the event. Banning the use of plastic straws, gave oil spill pads to all participants, established the Green Rangers. We organized a community group involving young adults to keep the shores and water clean and dispose of trash and recyclables properly. Adopted “Sailing Toward Clean and Green” moto.
2010 First Regatta to receive a Gold Certificate from Sailors for the Sea. Reduced disposable plastic and decreased paper use by distributing press packs electronically and monitored recycling bins.
2011 40th anniversary of the regatta and announced, “The drink you hold this year could be the award you win next year”.
2012 Awards were created from recycled glass and got oil spill kits for all motorized race official boats.
2013 We required all food vendors in the regatta village to place all food in compostable containers – banning Styrofoam from the village. Further, Heineken matched funds collected from participants with the funds going to GreenVI, local conservation and education organization. Using recycled materials to create artwork which is sold to fund the island recycling program. This infusion of funds allowed us to purchase carbon offsets and made us the first carbon neutral regatta in the world (recognized by Sailors for the Sea).
2014 Food vendors also required to use compostable cutlery. Green Boat Award initiated to encouraging participants to follow sustainable procedures on their boats. Award was made by Nutmeg, a local sustainable goods shop.
2015 Bio bags were given to each boat to use for trash or recycling with a list of green cleaning products along with sustainable suggestions specific to sailing yachts (no discharge of black water, reduce gray water, use of non-toxic bottom paints, no bottom cleaning in sensitive areas, etc).
Awards made on-island out of recycled glass through GreenVI.
2016 Since open composting areas are not as feasible in the Caribbean (due to the warmth and local pests) we established a compost system distributing scraps from food vendors to local pig farmers (the scraps were picked up by the Pig Man by donkey). We continued electronic registration and expanded to include all results to decrease paper usage.
2017 Established an initiative based on “How long till it’s decomposed” educating participants in the time needed to decompose popular products, thereby encouraging more responsible use. Made sure all bar glasses are reusable or compostable.
2018 Awards locally made and sustainable or usable. Include a beach clean-up day to assist with recovery.