The Ocean Race Science: An innovative collaboration between science and extreme offshore sailing

, Gutekunst Sören, O’donovan Mairéad, Turner Anne-Cécile.

The Ocean Race is a professional round-the-world sailing race, which has shown its potential in previous editions as a platform for ocean and weather observations, particularly from remote areas outside of routine shipping routes. Deployables (drifters), microplastic sampling, oceanographic in-situ (fCO2, salinity, sea surface temperature), and meteorological measurements (wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure) were recorded as part of the 2017-18 edition of the race. Over five months during 2019 the VO65 race yacht of team AkzoNobel continued this contribution to scientific data collection during The Ocean Race - European Tour. A flow-through filter system installed onboard was used to sample for microplastic particles. The samples were collected using a flow-through system that operated 24/7. Filters were changed at 24 h frequency. A total of 21 positions were collected and returned to a laboratory in Kiel for analysis using Raman. The route sampled started in Lisbon/PO and consisted of samples from the North Atlantic, North Sea, Baltic Sea and Mediterranean and finally finished in Alicante/SP. The Ocean Race fleet of competing yachts will be involved in data collection, with a science programme tailored for each class of boat - IMOCA 60 and VO65. Strong collaborations and partnerships are being developed to optimise sustained observations both during and outside of the race period with a particular value recognised for remote transects through rarely observed regions of the Southern Ocean and South Pacific. The next start of the Ocean Race will be in 2022 next to a possible European Race happening in 2021.

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