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The crew of the "Race for Water" is safe, the fight against plastic pollution continues

15 September 2015

On her way from Palau to Chagos Islands, in the Indian Ocean, the MOD70 trimaran "Race for Water" capsized on Saturday night, 90 miles south east from the Chagos Archipelago. Thanks to the assistance of the military base in Diego Garcia, the crew was rescued today at 6:00 a.m. by the Pacific Marlin, a ship from the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The crews of both the Pacific Marlin and the "Race for Water" are currently attempting in difficult conditions to right the trimaran.

Commander Edward Lees, Commissioner's Representative and Commander British Forces of Diego Garcia explained the operation:
"A number of UK and US assets were deployed to assist with this complex incident; these included USNS Seay, military personnel, and the M/V Pacific Marlin. The crew are now safe onboard the Pacific Marlin and discussions are on-going regarding the rendering of further assistance".

Stève Ravussin, skipper of the expedition, explains about the difficult sailing conditions they were experiencing in the area:
"The conditions have been really difficult for a few days, as often is the case in the Indian Ocean. Big swell, high waves, and the fact that the crew were tired after the 32,000 miles (Note: already more than a normal round the world course) that we have already travelled were some of the factors that triggered the unfortunate accident. The crew is safe and we all agree on the fact that the expedition must continue. My priority is now to retrieve the trimaran."

The crew has been working for several hours already on the recuperation of the boat off the coast of the Archipelago of Chagos, in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Marco Simeoni: "The Race for Water Odyssey continues"
The trimaran was sailing around the world as part of the environmental expedition « Race for Water Odyssey », a project to make a first global assessment of plastic pollution in the oceans, by visiting islands located in the centre of trash concentration zones. The Odyssey has completed 11 stopovers so far and has collected a considerable amount of data in the North Atlantic, South Pacific and North Pacific trash accumulation zones. Quantitative analyses are currently in progress but preliminary results already show one clear thing - this pollution is a real environmental disaster everywhere. Despite the accident, the project is not called into question, as Marco Simeoni, President of the Race for Water Foundation and expedition leader, explains:

"This accident is shocking and disappointing for all of us. However, it is crucial to continue the fight against this environmental and global disaster. The Odyssey is not called into question and its goals - on the one hand to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans among the general public and on the other hand to get an understanding of the issue thanks to various scientific and sociological analyses - remain. We may have lost our boat ambassador but our determination and motivation are stronger than ever."

Remaining stopovers of the expedition are to be maintained, but the program will be modified during the stopovers to come: Rodrigues (September 23 to 30), Cape Town (October 12 to 18), Rio (November 4 to 12) and Bordeaux. Onsite, the onshore team will continue to sample beaches (in Rodrigues) as well as organize activities to raise awareness of the problem thanks to school presentations, meetings with scientists, exhibitions and other events to alert local populations on the urgency to act to preserve our oceans.