Up for the challenge

Only launched two years ago, The Green Blue’s University Sailing Sustainability Challenge has already led to a new sustainability initiative with the RS Aero UK Class.

When The Green Blue launched its University Sailing Sustainability Challenge in 2015, little did it know that within two years it would have doubled in size with over 20 university sailing teams competing for gold, silver and bronze awards.

With sustainability, as with many other walks of life, there are connections and connectors; moments in time or people you come across who unlock the next opportunity. And it was through one of the universities that another door opened for The Green Blue.


With Reading University Sailing Club signed up to the 2016-2017 Challenge, Commodore Ben Rolfe was keen to explore his connections with the RS Aero UK Class.

Fast forward to 2017 and thanks to Ben, his father Nigel Rolfe, UK Committee Chairman and Peter Barton, International & UK Class Association Manager, The Green Blue announced their support of a new sustainability initiative with the RS Aero UK Class at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show.

The first step was to publish a charter, and as much as environmental policies and charters generally tend to be greeted with little enthusiasm, they are still a great way of showing a public commitment to achieving some very specific actions.

For the RS Aero UK Class the ambition was set to become the first ever ‘environmentally sustainable’ fleet in the UK through a series of practical actions including:

  • recycling of waste at events
  • using reusable water bottles
  • making sure bow stickers are applied correctly to prevent any falling off in the water
  • following the Check Clean Dry guidance to minimise the spread of invasive non-native species around the UK
  • a call to action for all host venues on the RS Aero UK Class training and event schedule to also do their bit to minimise any impact on the environment.


The first event of the season got underway on 1 April at Burghfield Sailing Club with 27 RS Aeros competing in the newly named inaugural sustainability challenge. Sustainable awards were donated by The Green Blue for the five rig, seven rig and nine rig categories.

It was great to see the charter in action, with single use disposable water bottles replaced by reusable sports bottles and boats coming off the water being checked for alien species and hosed down before departure being just a couple of examples.

One of the critical success factors of the University Sailing Sustainability Challenge was the appointment of Sustainability Officers to track progress and chivvy folk along. RS Aero UK Class have followed suite and appointed not one but a team of three Sustainability Representatives – Charlie Pearce, Jane and Alice Hutchins – to roll out the charter.

They may be spotted at events peering around recycling bins or looking at light bulbs and taps as part of the environmental evaluations they will be completing over the coming weeks, and needless to say it is great to have them on board.


If you are interested in taking a closer look at the RS Aero UK Class Charter visit www.rsaerosailing.org/docs/490404488(1).pdf or if you are a member of a class association keen to know how your class can become more sustainable contact The Green Blue at info@thegreenblue.org.uk or visit www.thegreenblue.org.uk