sailors for the sea

sailors for the sea

Back in the day, when Sailing Anarchy was just a glint in Scot’s, errr, eye, advertising dollars were few and far between. Enter Dan Pingaro, owner at the time of ClewGear, makers of sustainable sailing gear. Here’s what the Ed had to say about ClewGear way back in 2004, “…makers of Best Damn Sailing Shorts to be found anywhere, period.” Dan and ClewGear were one of the very first advertisers on Sailing Anarchy, and according to Dan, the Ed hooked the cash-strapped startup up. Dan recalls, “SA was the first place that we ever advertised.”

The strong community that is SA took ClewGear in an interesting direction. In a round-about trade for the kind advertising price, Dan met our very own Dawg, and ClewGear built a pair of custom fleece-lined sailing shorts that would work with his special needs. With a quick Google search, I found that the only vestige of ClewGear’s existence is on these very pages.

Dan has an entirely new gig, but it’s within the same environmental-consciousness-mixed-with-sailing vein, as ClewGear. Dan is the executive director of Sailors for the Sea, an organization that, as Dan puts it, “…galvanizes the sailing community around ocean conservation. Surfers have Surfrider, fisherman have Trout Unlimited, our organization is for sailors.” Generally, sailors are more conscious of the natural world, since we’re in it all the time, so it seems that Sailors for the Sea is a natural fit.

Raise your hand if you have ever worked Race Committee for a large Regatta. At the end of the day every mark boat, safety boat, and committee boat can produce a veritable mountain of plastic trash. From water bottles to lunch bags and everything else, regattas can create a ton of trash. Sailors for the Sea has a multistep program that can help regatta organizers learn how to lessen their waste output. Dan expands, “We have a program called Clean Regattas that has 18 best management practices to reduce the environmental footprint on both land and water. We’re the only organization focused on the sailing community.”

The impact of Sailors for the Sea is starting to make a serious difference across the sailing community, especially since they have recently partnered with one of the largest regatta circuits on the water today: The America’s Cup. Dan’s statistics are impressive, “This year alone, 75,000 sailors have come through our program, so we have the track record, and we were able to bring that to the America’s Cup.” Sailors for the Sea’s involvement with The Cup Circuit alone, has saved mounds of trash from filling the landfill. Dan states, You’ll see everyone from Stephanie Martin to Artemis racing using the same water bottles. We’re also making lunches for everybody in reusable plastic containers, which significantly reduces waste.” It was very evident when I walked around the AC village in San Diego that the program was having a positive impact, every trashcan in the staff areas was empty the entire week.

Sailors for the Sea covers more nautical miles than just waste reduction, and according to Dan, “At each location we’re talking about sustainable seafood, we’re talking about invasive species, we’re talking about recycling…we’re working both in front of the public and behind the scenes. We have a Rainy Day Kid Program, which is a science based kids program with lesson plans from some of the best scientists and institutions in both the United States and around the world. They have helped produce 30- 40 minute lesson plans for 6 to 16 year-old children, that sailors can teach to students. You can download the lesson plans for free at Sailorsforthesea.org.”

I had to grill Dan on the fact that from the boat construction, to shipping tons of carbon all over the planet, and readying the venues, the America’s Cup is one of the most ecologically intense regattas going. Dan’s response, “We absolutely recognize that there is already inherently a large footprint in this event over the next couple of years. We’re working to reduce that footprint at each location globally.” From what I saw in SD, I believe that they really did significantly reduce the footprint.

Sailors for the Sea is funded through a variety of resources, from corporate foundations, private foundations, individuals and members. 85% of every dollar goes directly into programming, and you can help support Sailors for the Sea here.