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Global yacht race collaborates on pioneering US ocean research

Posted May 2nd 2018 in News and Updates,

The Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race departed Seattle for the penultimate leg of its 40,000 nm circumnavigation of the planet, and it is engaging in pioneering scientific research. One of its racing yachts, Visit Seattle, has been fitted with a special sensor for monitoring the effects of ocean acidification around the US Coast.

The Clipper Race is working with the Port of Seattle, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – an agency within the US Department of Commerce – as well as the University of Washington, Sunburst Sensors and Visit Seattle to raise public awareness of its Ocean Acidification Program, which studies changes in ocean chemistry in response to increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, associated with climate change.

Clipper Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world almost 50 years ago, said: “This collaboration presents a unique opportunity for all involved to use a sport we love to research a subject we all care deeply about, our oceans.”

Visit Seattle, one of the Clipper Race’s eleven identical 70 foot ocean racing yachts, has been fitted with a Sunburst sensor, the recent winner of a $2 million (£1.43 million) XPRIZE ocean health award. The sensor will monitor ocean acidification during the 6,000nm US Coast to Coast leg of the race.

Port of Seattle Commissioner, Fred Felleman, who initiated the effort, spoke about the importance of monitoring the waters around the North American coast, saying: “Pacific Northwest waters are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification – impacting numerous species of ecological and economic importance, from plankton to pollock, oysters to orcas. It also impacts tenants at Fishermen’s Terminal who are an essential part of Seattle’s cultural fabric and economic diversity.

This collaboration with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race expands the reach of current monitoring efforts and provides a spectacular platform to take this important message to a global audience.

“Having the Visit Seattle boat as the lead vessel for such innovative research is a very exciting prospect and one the Port is extremely proud to support.”

The race departed Seattle on 29 April and heads to New York via the Panama Canal. This route will fill a vital gap in the current Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) as it’s a route never before monitored by the NOAA.

Since the Clipper 2017-18 Race started in Liverpool, UK last August, the fleet, including the Visit Seattle team, have raced via Uruguay, South Africa, Australia, and China. Following completion of this US Leg, competitors will race across the Atlantic Ocean to Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland before a final sprint back to Liverpool where the epic adventure concludes on 28 July 2018.

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