By Rosie Gosling, Sustainability and Impact Project Manager, SailGP
This week twelve of us from SailGP came down to Menlo Park to roll up our sleeves and work with Save The Bay to help restore an area of tidal marsh in the South Bay Salt Pond, by Menlo Park. Our athletes, shore team and staff got to work to pull up the weeds and help the native plants to grow and rejuvenate the tidal marsh.
It’s so important to take time to understand the places where we race and the challenges these communities face in regards to sustainability, focusing primarily on climate change. We want to work with local communities and create a positive impact and leave places in a better state than we found them and have set a target of delivering a local impact project at every race, possibly two in season 3.
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For anyone who doesn’t know SailGP – we’re a new global sailing league who is in town for our Season 2 Grand Final. For us though, SailGP is about more than sailing and more than sport. Our ambition is to be the most sustainable and purpose-driven sports and entertainment platform. We have a clean energy roadmap and aim for our events, on-water and on-shore, to be powered 100% by clean energy by 2025.
Our Grand Final is more than just the sailing – it’s the first time we’ll be crowning our Impact League winner on our podium for the planet. This is a second league that we run throughout the season in parallel to sailing, where the national teams don’t just compete for sporting glory, but also for the planet. They are judged against ten robust sustainability criteria including environmental strategy, single-use plastic reduction, innovation and collaboration.
We want to show that sport can make a positive difference – and we’re not shy of hard work and getting stuck in.
We’re very grateful to Save The Bay for taking the time to host us, show us the projects and explain how years of environmental degradation has left huge swathes of San Francisco Bay in need of intensive rejuvenation, requiring the help of hundreds of volunteers to weed, plant and help restore the tidal marshes back to their natural state. Without this work, these areas are vulnerable to some of the rapid impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and unpredictable weather.
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Together we pulled out around 270lbs of weeds – a mixture of invasive weeds like mustard, radish, fennel and Russian thistle. Slow, but rewarding work as nurturing the land is a long-term process. We were there for a relatively short time, but every bit helps and getting out into the environment is the best way to connect to the issues. We could honestly have stayed much longer and I hope we can return next year to help continue the restoration and see how the area is coming back to life.
It was inspiring to see the ambition and devotion of the Save The Bay team. We loved every minute of digging and weeding, helping in a small way to rejuvenate the area and leave San Francisco in a slightly better state than we found it.
We’re proud to be supporting Save The Bay with further work and would recommend anyone to sign up and go down and volunteer with the fantastic team.
Save The Bay has begun hosting small group programs on the shoreline again. We are proceeding cautiously with Covid safety in mind and can’t wait to bring more volunteers out to work with us again in the near future. Subscribe to our email list to hear the latest when volunteer opportunities are available.