Ocean researchers name Barcelona World Race skippers as scientific agents

Over 600 scientists gathered in Barcelona for the 2nd International Ocean Research Conference have this evening named the skippers in the Barcelona World Race, the first and only double-handed, round the world regatta with no stops, as scientific agents during their upcoming circumnavigation of the globe, departing from the Catalan capital on December 31st.

The naming took place this evening at the Barcelona Maritime Museum, during the Blue Cocktail event, an official cocktail ceremony for the 2nd International Ocean Research Conference, bringing together over 620 scientists from 76 countries, working together to map out the future of the world's oceans for the coming decade and pushing to get the issue on the international political agenda in the run up to the Paris 2015 summit on climate change.

The ceremony was led by Wendy Watson-Wright and Luis Valdés, the Executive Secretary and Director of Ocean Sciences at UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) respectively; Mike Roman, from the Oceanography Society and President of the Scientific Committee for the 2nd International Ocean Research Conference; Andrés Clarós, President of the Underwater Festival de Barcelona, and Luc Talbourdet, Vice President of the IMOCA Class.

Twice winner of the Barcelona World Race, Jean Pierre Dick also took part, accepting the mandate as scientific agents on behalf of all of the skippers taking part in the race. As front-line witnesses of the impact of climate change and the effects of man on the oceans, sailors have long been aware of the need to protect the oceans, a concern that has been given a voice thanks to the scientific framework built around this competition, one of top three round the world regattas on the planet.

“Until now, we sailors were privileged witnesses of the planet's beauty”, explained Jean-Pierre Dick, “and at the same time we were observers of the changes that were taking place. For example, in the last edition of the Barcelona World Race, when we sailed through the Indian and Pacific Oceans, we were forced to stay further north to avoid the iceberg zones because now there is a lot more floating ice due to climate change. However now, as well as continuing our role as observers, the Barcelona World Race is making us active ocean research agents”.

In this way, skippers taking part in the third edition of the Barcelona World Race are collaborating on various scientific projects coordinated by the UNESCO-IOC, organisers of the 2nd International Ocean Research Conference alongside the Oceanography Society and the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB),  organisers of the Barcelona World Race.

As part of the framework of this unprecedented initiative in the world of ocean sailing, skippers Aleix Gelabert and Dídac Costa will be taking surface water salinity and temperature measurements and will collect data on the level of microplastics in sea water on board the Barcelona World Race's most scientific of yachts, One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton, as they race around the world.

Furthermore, all of the crews will join in the efforts to evaluate surface sea water quality as part of the Citclops project and will launch ARGO floats into the sea, to collect accurate data on the sea temperature and salinity from depths of 2,000 metres up to the sea surface. This information is crucial in the bid to understand the effects of climate change on the planet.  (Click here to learn more about the scientific projects in development for the Barcelona World Race 2014/15).

The yachts will make their way through some of Earth's most inhospitable waters, beyond commercial shipping routes. Sending oceanographic research ships to these areas is incredibly expensive, and so this collaboration is invaluable to researchers, enabling the collection of data for areas where little has so far been available.


As witnesses and representatives of the skippers' naming as scientific agents, scientists awarded Jean-Pierre Dick and Dídac Costa with one of the posters (scientific communication about one of the projects) unveiled during the conference, selected to go round the world aboard the boats taking part in the regatta, as well as a Barcelona World Race flag, signed by the researchers, to be taken aboard One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton.