Finish Line for the Race for Water Odyssey

Thursday, 19 November 2015

After a nine-month journey, Race for Water Odyssey (R4WO) arrived in Bordeaux, France, today, concluding an unprecedented human and scientific adventure that began on 15 March and which took the team to 17 locations across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. At each stopover, the R4WO team studied levels of plastic pollution in the water and raised awareness of the global issue. Our findings are dramatic: plastic pollution is everywhere.

After more than 32,000 nautical miles across three oceans and a painful ordeal when the project’s flagship trimaran capsized, the environmental expedition concluded its journey today with its return to its home port. On arrival in Bordeaux, the team will assess nine-month worth of data collected and the personalities and general public that the project reached with its awareness raising programme and its call to action. Race for Water Odyssey used a standard protocol based on that of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to sample the plastic pollution on 30 beaches located in five major waste accumulation zones. The project’s various partner institutions, including the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), the University of Bordeaux (France) and the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) are currently analysing the collected samples. Duke University and Oregon State in the USA are studying images taken by the senseFly drone, eBee. Results are expected in 2016.

The City of Bordeaux and its mayor, Alain Juppé, applauded the expedition and welcomed the team back to Bordeaux. 

“Pollution [of the oceans by plastic] concerns all regions of the globe and has a long term effect on marine ecosystems. It is imperative to act and that is why I supported Race for Water Odyssey and its ambitious expedition to map and measure the five marine pollution areas around the globe. I extend my support to the team of explorers and scientists who are engaged in this noble project that is vital for the future of our planet.”

Preliminary results and alarming testimonials

The first findings, reported in September, are clear and alarming. Plastic is everywhere. And it is present in such large quantities that an effective ocean clean-up is unrealistic.

“This expedition has been a great human, social and scientific adventure (notably with the University of Bordeaux) and our arrival back in Bordeaux is an emotional experience. The last nine months have been challenging at times, but all the data and knowledge acquired and the enriching encounters that we have experienced are essential to continue the fight against plastic pollution in the oceans,” said Marco Simeoni, expedition leader and president of the Race for Water Foundation. 

“Race for Water Odyssey is just the beginning of a long-term project. It is a springboard that has enabled us to further define how to progress towards solutions. Following the Odyssey, our conclusions are clear: plastic pollution affects all regions of the world, it is everywhere. We must be proactive and prevent plastic from getting into our waterways by promoting solutions that give waste value. We will be launching pilot projects that transform waste into energy from 2016 on,” he added.

Exclusive testimony of an unprecedented adventure at Cinema Mégarama from 18:00

To conclude Race for Water Odyssey’s journey, the team has organised a closing ceremony in partnership with Maison écocitoyenne from 18:00 on the 18 November at the Cinema Mégarama in Bordeaux. The R4WO crew and the expedition’s shore team will attend the evening event to present various reports and testimonials about their voyage of discovery.

Click here for more information about the closing ceremony in Bordeaux (free entry, number of places limited)

Race for Water Odyssey: a springboard for the solutions of tomorrow

The Race for Water Foundation plans to use the expedition’s findings as a basis for its fight against plastic pollution, starting with a presence at COP21 with its new Race for Water flagship, the largest solar-powered catamaran in the world. The Foundation will present its findings and its solutions and launch the 2016 programme, based on pilot projects that give value to plastic waste, on the 26 November. 

Click here for more information about the Race for Water Odyssey and the Race for Water Foundation.

About the Race for Water Odyssey
Initiated by the Race for Water Foundation, the “Race for Water Odyssey” is a unique expedition that aims to draw up the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the ocean by visiting island beaches situated in the 5 trash vortexes. In less than 300 days, over 40,000 nautical miles will be traveled, punctuated by 11 scientific stopovers and 9 outreach stopovers, involving a total of 13 countries. The Race for Water Odyssey benefits from the support of ISAF, Duke University, Oregon State University, senseFly, Swisscom and Swissnex. 

About the Race for Water Foundation 
The Race for Water Foundation is an organisation dedicated to the preservation of water. This indispensable resource is under massive threat from plastic pollution and must be protected. The Foundation aims to identify, promote and implement solutions that will give end-of-life plastic a value and to create new sources of income for the people most affected by pollution. Using an innovative approach inspired by the principles of a circular economy and social entrepreneurship, Race for Water Foundation seeks to give an economic value to plastic waste and prevent plastic pollution of our waterways. Within this framework, the Foundation works closely with UNESCO, UNEP, IUCN and the WBCSD. 

For more information:

Lucie Gerber – Press Officer 
[email protected]
+ 41 79 419 86 60

Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 November 2015 )