Sustainability and Clean Regattas

In 2018, TSA and Sailors for the Sea partnered as the first state sailing association to adopt the Clean Regattas Program.

With events throughout the year and across the state, TSA can make a big impact.

TSA encourages clubs and venues to register as Clean Regattas and find their own way to contribute. Participation and education are the goals no matter the certification level.

Sustainability Facts

At least 8 million tons of plastic are entering our oceans every year, and environmental experts believe that by 2050, plastic will actually outweigh fish in the sea.

60-90% of marine litter is plastic.

Some plastics never decompose, they stay in the ocean forever.

There is no such thing as throwing ‘away’, it always stays somewhere.

Single-use plastic straws are one of the most common items found in ocean pollution.

Over 80% of the items buried in landfill could be recycled instead.

Globally, we use as many as 1 million new plastic bags every minute, at a cost of 2.2 billion gallons (equals 8.3 billion liters) of oil a year.

25 million single-use plastic bottles per hour are thrown away.

90% of the world’s fisheries are already fully exploited or overfished.

Ocean plants produce almost half of the oxygen we breathe.

A personal cosmetic product can contain as much plastic as the packaging it comes in.

The 2018 Spring Fling Event at Lake Canyon Yacht Club showed us all how to Go Green TSA style! Chairs Chris and Debbie Fogle wrote the book, literally. The following is their step by step plan to make it easy.

How to Host a Clean TSA Regatta

Congratulations! Your decision to host a Clean Regatta is the right First Step to cleaner seas!

I can tell you from personal experience that with only a little bit of effort you can be very successful. Along the way, you will find even more ways to improve how you run your regatta and how to get the word out to the sailing community, your neighborhoods, schools, and beyond!

The process is very straight-forward, and the resources provided by Sailors for the Sea are invaluable.

Step 1:

Go to and subscribe to their news and information. Their site is a wealth of information, and “must have” resource.

Step 2:

Register your regatta in the section labeled “Make an Impact On the Water.” This step is very easy. You will create an account and indicate for what certification level you would like to try. The certification level is just a goal – not a contract – so you will not be judged on whether you reach the goal or not. Sailors for the Sea is more interested in knowing people are trying to make a difference.

Step 3:

You will be led through a checklist of best practices, some of which are required to achieve a certain level, and others are options from which you can choose depending on what you feel your club can do. It is okay to shoot for the stars here! After the regatta, you will indicate which ones were successful.

Step 4:

Download the Clean Regatta Guide. This guide will walk you through ideas for changes you can make or practices you can implement at your regatta. Feel free to think outside the box on any of these ideas.

Step 5:

Assemble your Green Team and revisit the guide often. As you get deeper into your planning, you may find other areas in which you can make changes. Having a general game plan will help you meet your goals.

Step 6:

Two weeks before your event, contact Sailors for the Sea to let them know you are gearing up for the event. They will send burgees for your race committee boats and other cool materials to give away.

Step 7:

Meet with your club staff and volunteers, especially any grounds keepers or maintenance crews, so they are aware of your goals for the weekend. They may be able to help with the placement of recycling containers and regular policing of the area.

Step 8:

Have your event. Use the Skippers’ Meeting as a place to introduce your Green Team and any special recycling, trash, composting and water refilling stations. Take pictures during the event showing people acting in responsible ways.

Step 9:

Once the event is done, you will receive an email from Sailors for the Seas asking you to submit an informal After-Action Report online. You will have a chance to go through the checklist again and mark all the practices you were able to implement. You will also upload pictures of your event and the impacts of your efforts.

Step 10:

Sit back, relax, and take a sip from your reusable water bottle and wait for your certification to arrive. Once you get it, make sure your sailors and the rest of your club’s members see it! Hang it in a prominent place for all to see.

Props to you! You just hosted your first Clean Regatta, and hopefully you are excited to start planning for the next one.

Words of Wisdom

Those are the basic steps. Here are some observations and recommendations from experience so far at Lake Canyon Yacht Club:

It’s never too early to start!

Hopefully you are reading this well-ahead of the date of your regatta. I was a little late to the game, having only met the Sailors for the Seas campaign at the US Sailing Symposium in Florida the first week in February. In hindsight, it would have been great to have had more time to plan hands-on activities and engage the local community. So my first piece of advice – register your intent with Sailors for the Sea, as soon as possible and assemble your Green Team.

Refer to the Clean Regatta Guide early and often!

The guide provided by Sailors for the Sea reflects successes from many regattas. Adopting some of their recommendations will give you a good foundation and an easy path to success in hosting a Clean Regatta. When I registered Lake Canyon Yacht Club, I listed Bronze Level as our goal due to the short timeline, and would look to improve in future years. I read the guide each week leading up to the regatta and made changes at LCYC where I could. It was a GREAT SURPRISE to find out we actually achieved Silver Level certification! (I guess the pressure is on to go for Gold next year!)

Little changes have big impacts, and they all add up!

Going paperless at the regattas has a huge impact, and this is one area TSA can promote successfully across the board. If all the regattas go paperless, sailors, coaches and parents will become accustomed to going online for the SIs and the NORs. Paper copies will soon be a thing of the past.

Provide CONVENIENT water stations for the sailors and their families to refill bottles!

We did okay here, but not what we’d hoped. Eventually, we’d like to get to the point where we provide “on-water” refill stations on committee boats or a rover boat. We did have a few kids stop by the RC boat on the Laser/420 line and get refills. Unfortunately, they were refilled from plastic water bottles, but thankfully these made it to the recycle bin.

Before your regatta, get your own sailors and families involved!

It would be so easy for all clubs to condition their sailors to use reusable water bottles, and, in turn, encourage support boats to use reusable water bottles, as well. Just a few minor changes really add up.

Think outside the box when it comes to regatta keepsakes and awards presented to the sailors.

Sailors for the Sea encourages something that can be used by the sailors or trophies that are up-cycled. Sailing bags made from old sails was an idea I especially liked; and, of course, we are hoping the kids are using their drinking-cup trophies from LCYC at home!

Related to this, I would encourage looking for ways to reduce the number of resealable plastic bags (i.e. Ziplocs and baggies) being used over the weekend. By using paper sacks at check-in to hold the sailors info, we reduced our plastic bag use by 70 bags.

Have recycle bins prominently and conveniently located around your club, and announce their locations at the Skippers’ Meeting.

Don’t rely on signage; it doesn’t always work if people don’t know to look for them. Speaking of signage, Sailors for the Sea, has great posters to use!

Just remember, every little step you take to reduce your plastic and paper use adds up. Imagine the impact we’ll have when the entire TSA family is on-board – expanding our efforts to our clubs and households.

Every club is different. Take the best practices set down by Sailors for the Sea and see how they can be implemented at your club. It is easy, fun, worthwhile and very addictive!