The road to sustainable sport made a bit more smooth sailing
As sport collectively considers how best to tackle issues around climate change, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Cymru has taken to land to find one solution for reducing its own impact on the environment.
There are currently around 70 youth and junior sailors participating in sailing performance programmes across Wales – all bidding to be the next Hannah Mills or Chris Grube.
That means around 70,000 miles are travelled in total for sailors getting to and from regional and national training and events.
So, to reduce their carbon footprint, the RYA have just taken possession of eight vehicle trailers which can each carry up to three stacked boats. This will enable more car sharing among the sailor and fewer journeys, cutting overall miles on the road by more than a third.
“A big part of our strategy is to be more sustainable and these trailers will enable us to do that,” says RYA Cymru performance manager Sarah McGovern.
“The more we can get sailors sharing lifts and sharing their loads, it will help reduce the overall number of miles we are clocking up.
“We are such a green sport in terms of what we do. After all, we use wind as our fuel to power the boats.
“But things like the trailers help us to become more sustainable. We have two national events a year in Wales which sailors are travelling to and a lot of them are in GB squad programmes as well, so they are continuously traveling to the south coast of England.”
The more we can get sailors sharing lifts and sharing their loads, it will help reduce the overall number of miles we are clocking up.
The funding for the trailers – a total project cost of £21,064 – came mainly from a Sport Wales capital grant of £18,958.
By investing into the sport, it is also hoped the costs for taxi-driving parents during the current cost of living crisis are reduced, making the sport a little more accessible.
“At the moment, we have about 70 sailors who are part of our Welsh squad programme and then another 30 to 40 junior kids who are with our clubs as well,” says Sarah.
“We do all our training in Wales, but as a region, Wales is pretty enormous, so the travelling up and down Wales is quite a lot for parents.”
RYA Cymru chief executive Chris Munro says a lot of attention has recently been focused on supporting sailors through the provision of boats in Wales and the help with transport was a natural development.
The RYA are also looking at other sustainability gains around events and competitions that are linked to upgrades at their national academy centre at Plas Heli in Pwllheli.
It is hoped that improved facilities could further reduce the need for elite sailors to have to travel so frequently to Southampton.
“The fact that capital money is still there for us to apply for has been really useful for us as an organisation,” says Chris.
“This aligns perfectly with our longer-term sustainability strategy for the sport. We have a ‘pathway to zero’ objective and this kind of move on transport means we have taken one step towards that.
“It’s about making these small changes which can hopefully add up to a much wider impact in the long term.”
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