Inspired by the Volvo Ocean Race and the UN #CleanSeas campaign, members of an eco-surf group held a surf competition to highlight plastic pollution during the Itajai stopover.
Turn the Tide on Plastic’s Bleddyn Mon and Lucas Chapman hit the waves alongside Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew members Simon Fisher and Stacey Jackson. The teams then rolled up their sleeves to collect some of the debris scattered along Praia Da Atalaia in Itajai.
Simon Fisher, Vestas 11th Hour’s navigator, went surfing at the event and took part in the beach clean.
He said: “It was great to be able to come here and lend our support to the event, have a surf and be part of the beach clean up.
“The organisers have been so creative to make boards out of plastic bottles and the kids can go out and enjoy them in the water. This is a good way of demonstrating how we all need to be conscious about the plastic we’re using and remember to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Turn the Tide on Plastic’s Lucas Chapman added: “I grew up on the beach and as a kid I was always surfing. For the past year I have been surfing a 65-foot yacht through the world’s oceans, spreading the message about the need to clean up the seas.
“It’s fantastic to see that with the Volvo Ocean Race coming to town, people are not only embracing the sport of sailing but the need to make a difference by understanding the causes of the plastic pollution and cleaning up the beach here in Itajai.”
The Eco-Surf project is the brainchild of Brazilian surfer Gairo Lemut who was so shocked by the amount of plastic bottles he saw washed up on a Hawaiian beach that he decided to start his own plastic awareness raising project.
Returning to Brazil, Gairo started the initiative to highlight the issue by making surfboards out of plastic bottles.
The boards, made from a base of plastic bottles, are used by local children at surf schools to learn to surf and find out how discarded plastic can eventually make it’s way from rivers into the sea.
Over the eight years since the project started the team has visited a range of South and Central American countries to spread the message amongst the surf community.
Ney Machado, president of the project, says the aim is to inspire children to take action in their own lives and those of their families to make a difference to the plastic problem.
Ney said: “The fact that the Volvo Ocean Race was coming to Itajai inspired us to hold this surfing competition to showcase surfing, that we can make cheap surf boards by recycling plastic and to send a message about the shocking amount of plastic washed up on beaches around the world.
“We’re finding that people in inland towns and cities are not disposing of their plastic items properly and they’re ending up in rivers, eventually making their way into the sea.
“By creating this initiative, we want the surfing community to embrace the need to reduce our plastic obsession and producing the plastic bottle boards gives a visible representation of the problem which hopefully makes people more conscious of the crisis and how we can all play a part in solving it."