Racing for change

DURING the Sustainability Live! Exhibition at the NEC earlier this year I found myself on one of the largest stands at the show.

I was approached by a man whom I had anticipated was an eager salesman. Angus was his name, Power Perfector was his game.

I was adorned with RYA and BMF logos – it was not my cash he was interested in. “What are you doing at a sustainability show?” he asked, inquisitively.

I explained that I worked for The Green Blue – the environment initiative of the British Marine Federation and Royal Yachting Association, working with boaters, clubs, training centres and a plethora of marine businesses to reduce their environmental impacts.

The Green Blue

Left to right: Angus Robertson, Kimberly Webster (Power Perfector), Nic Asher, Simon Asher, John Tweed, Dan Reading, Keith Musto.

A sailor at heart, Angus swiftly steered the conversation to my sailing credentials (I realise now he was assessing his chances!) and after establishing that Angus was a far superior sailor we turned to the contraption sitting on his stand. “Well . . . what is it?” I enquired, inquisitively.

The Power Perfector is a handy device. In a nutshell, the UK is supplied by an average of 242 volts however all electrical equipment will work with a supply of 220 volts. The Power Perfector harmonises the supply to 220 Volts, thus saving electricity.

This means, Angus proudly told me, a Power Perfector will save on average, eight per cent of a company’s electricity usage.

I began to be interested – The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy sprang into my mind as only days before I had been on site discussing ways in which we could reduce the electricity usage and become the first Olympic venue to create 20 per cent renewable energy.

Typically the unit has a payback of a few years so I was keen to find out how much a unit would cost for the academy.

After some quick sums the total installed price was £9000. That, I thought was a figure that was modest for the payback but alas I had no budget for such equipment. Feeling somewhat dejected by the price I decided to wander on to the next stand but before I did, Angus had a proposal: ‘I’ll race you for one,’ he said.

As Angus and I swapped business cards it soon became apparent that Angus was the CEO of Power Perfector. A few e-mails later, it transpired that the race was going to be in a class Loch Long One Design, 21 foot and location – Aldeburgh Yacht Club, Suffolk – chosen by Angus. With such a prize on offer I thought that maybe I would ask Angus if I would be able to nominate some sailors on my behalf (just to make sure that we won!) which Angus agreed to.

It had slipped my mind to tell Angus that after pulling a few strings and with the help from some colleagues at the RYA, one of the reigning 470 world champions, Nic Asher, would be taking my place and teaming up with his brother, Simon.

Furthermore one of the WPNSA’s directors, none other than sailing legend and 1964 Olympic medallist, Keith Musto, also wanted to race for the Power Perfector.

The sailors took to the water whilst the CEO of WPNSA, John Tweed, and I cheered from a support boat. We were on the edge of our seats as Keith and Nic worked together in their separate boats to block Angus, it was a fierce battle with the fleet tightly packed.

The challenge was set such that we had to beat Angus in two of the three races.

Amazingly in the first race, Nic and his brother beat the whole fleet and narrowly beat Angus in the second and third races. This was the first time Nic had ever sailed a Loch Long and the win was testament to his sailing abilities beating sailors who had spent their whole sailing careers in a Loch Long. It was a privilege to witness first-hand the contrasting styles of the sailing legend with the emerging star. Despite the age difference both were extremely competitive.

With the announcement that Team Origin is no longer contesting the next America’s Cup I was glad to see that Nic and Keith had adopted Team Origin’s environmental message ‘race for change’. After winning the Power Perfector I am pleased to say that WPNSA will be putting it to good use, consuming nine per cent less electricity than they were before.

With some of the best sailors in the world looking at how they can help reduce their environmental impact, let’s see how we can reduce yours?

Get in touch with The Green Blue and find out!

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