‘Green’family set sail for Durban in solar-powered yacht

By Kamcilla Pillay Time of article published Nov 17, 2011

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For one family, it was not enough to spread awareness of climate change from the comfort of their Swiss home. The Schwörers decided instead to embark on an expedition around the world, powered only by nature.

Dario and Sabine Schwörer and their four children make up the core of the TOPtoTOP expedition, which started in 2002, sailing in their yacht powered by wind and solar energy.

The family decided to sail into Durban to coincide with the 17th annual UN Conference of the Parties (COP17) to be held in Durban at the end of the month – they are scheduled to arrive on Saturday.

“With volunteers from over 38 countries, TOPtoTOP’s mission is to inspire children to care for the natural world in a sustainable manner, through education, sport, and innovative green solutions,” said the organisation.

The family visited schools and gave talks on climate change, explaining what they had seen and experienced, and how they had harnessed clean energy to power their way across the globe.

“We hope that people see what we did and realised that anything is possible,” said Dario, a qualified ski and mountaineering guide and climatologist.

He said that the project hit a snag in 2004 when the vessel collided with a floating container near Antarctica. “It took us one-and-a-half years to repair the damage, which also gave us a chance to campaign for sponsorship,” he said.

The children, who range in age from five months to six years, were all home-schooled, he said.

The crew recently sailed into Richard’s Bay on Pachamama (which means Mother Earth in an Incan language), a specially designed vessel which operated autonomously, using only renewable energy.

The expedition has a number of partners and supporters, including major sponsor SGS, an inspection, verification, testing, and certification company. The SGS Environmental Team would be welcoming the TOPtoTOP crew to Durban.

“We are delighted to be backing TOPtoTOP on their global expedition,” said SGS chief executive, Chris Kirk.

“This is a serious commitment by our company to help focus attention on the most important issues facing society and business today. Our experiences in helping customers address sustainability in the context of environmental certification and compliance mirrors perfectly our commitment to TOPtoTOP,”

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