Damian Foxall, Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing sustainability manager, explains how tricky the sleeping arrangements can be on rough seas. Picture: Lance Witten/Cape Argus

Cape Town - Yacht racing is by no means an affordable sport. Just like Formula 1 Racing, the Volvo Ocean Race around the world takes a massive logistical effort far beyond just the crew of nine sailors on board the participating 65 foot yachts.

This year, the yachts are near identical. The route since the last edition has also changed somewhat, taking competitors from Cape Town to Melbourne on the third leg of 11 for the first time in more than a decade. 

But proving your worth on the high seas is not the only thing the Volvo Ocean Race achieves. 

Competing teams and their global partners use the nine month race to share their message of sustainability and the health of the oceans.

"We've come across everything, from floating islands of plastic debris to abandoned fishing nets," explains Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing director Mark Howill. 

"The oceans are drowning in plastic."

Vestas is a global wind turbine manufacturing and installation company, so its involvement in the Volvo Ocean Race, where wind is the only source of driving power, is a marriage made in heaven.

Its partner, 11th Hour Racing is a global sustainability advocacy company. Together, the teams engage with local partners to implement sustainability and recycling programmes to leave behind a lasting legacy.

Damian Foxall, sailor and sustainability manager for Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing, gives a tour of the deck of the ocean yacht. Picture: Lance Witten/Cape Argus

"We're working with a local NGO, the Environmental Monitoring Group, and they're doing some amazing work in Khayelitsha," says the team's sustainability manager Damian Foxall. 

The team saw firsthand how a polluted wetland was transformed from a danger that posed serious health and safety risks, to a vibrant venue that now serves as the heart of a community.

The aim of the Volvo Ocean Race is to leave behind as many, similar, sustainable programmes in each of the cities it visits. 

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