The 34th America’s Cup isn’t only about boating.
When the regatta’s World Series competition kicks off this month, organizers say that spectators, workers and racers alike will see a different kind of event — a highly sustainable one.
The regatta will be the first major sporting event in San Francisco to prohibit the sale or distribution of single-use plastic bags and water bottles at all of its event sites. Organizers also will be estimating the event’s carbon footprint and attempting to compensate for the emissions it generates.
“We have a unique opportunity with the 34th America’s Cup to draw attention to the problems that face the ocean and turn that attention into action,” said Jill McCarthy, head of partnerships for the yacht race.
The America’s Cup created a sustainability plan in conjunction with local stakeholders and city officials. The plan makes it clear that the America’s Cup isn’t just striving for greatness on the race course.
“The bar will be raised not only for the sport of sailing, but in delivering a sporting event with purpose — one that leaves a lasting positive legacy for host communities and our natural environment,” it states.
The plan’s five themes — inclusion, engagement, energy and emissions, resource efficiency, and natural habitats and wildlife — are aimed at minimizing negative impacts and maximizing the legacy benefits, said Jill Savery, head of sustainability for the America’s Cup Event Authority.
“This first series of races will be an excellent opportunity to put some of the well-laid sustainability plans into practice and develop additional lessons learned for the next big event,” said Melanie Nutter, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment.
Some initiatives are already under way.
“It’s a constant journey,” Savery said. “Everything we do relates to sustainability.”
The Cup is planning to estimate the event’s carbon footprint using the same methodology used for the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“We will develop a strategy to avoid, reduce, replace and compensate for our greenhouse gas emissions,” Savery said.
The Cup’s World Series event also will be the first sporting event in San Francisco to operate under the Port of San Francisco’s new zero-waste event policy. The policy restricts the sale, use and distribution of certain plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic food ware and the release of balloons for all events with an expected turnout of 5,000 attendees or more.
Nutter said every major event, including the America’s Cup, can help The City reach its goal of zero waste by 2020.
Cup organizers have also worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to develop a framework to guide the delivery of local and sustainable food at the event.
“I think that it is wonderful that the leadership of America’s Cup has made a commitment to sustainability and supporting local priorities and has reached out to get input on their sustainable food framework,” said Paula Jones, director of food systems for the health department.
These initiatives will be under way during the World Series events on Aug. 21 to Aug. 26 and Oct. 2 to Oct. 7, the Louis Vuitton Cup and the finals next year.