You might not expect oil-rich Texas to blaze a trail in marine conservation but that’s what happened when Corpus Christi Yacht Club – which shares its home waters with some of the largest petrochemical plants on the planet – scored a world first by hosting a Youth Sailing World Championship that was genuinely sustainable, engaged hundreds of local people in marine conservation, left a lasting legacy in the community and established an important new benchmark for international sailing.
Any top-level sporting event on the scale of the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships (YSWC), with 500 attendees and 350 helpers, can generate a huge amount of waste. Many regattas do, unfortunately, but they don’t have to – and this one didn’t, thanks to inspired leadership and an army of volunteers. ‘Young sailors, I hope you start to wonder what is underneath your boat, as 97 per cent of the Earth’s water is ocean’ – with these words, legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle opened the event in Corpus Christi, which featured sustainability and ocean conversation as key themes.
It started three years ago when a previous US Sailing Team member, Elizabeth Kratzig, heard the club where she started her sailing career was to host the Youth Worlds. ‘As soon as CCYC won the bid I wanted to be actively involved,’ she says. ‘Not only is Corpus Christi my home town and CCYC my home club, but in 1991 I was the US representative at the Youth Worlds in Largs, Scotland in the Laser Radial class. I wanted to give back something to CCYC and my community, but also to youth sailing. So I began thinking… what an amazing opportunity to reach the next leaders in our sport and teach them about ocean conservation.’