I have always gone sailing, because it is my passion, my life.

Whether for races, transport or cruises, it doesn't matter - I love to be at sea, navigating, arriving in places I have never seen and encountering people and cultures different from my own.
And if I can have these experiences by travelling miles across the sea, instead of by plane or over land, I feel that the journey is also part of the experience.

I had no choice but to make my passion for sailing my job, too; and just like any job, it has positive and negative moments, successes and defeats, accompanied by enthusiasm and demotivation. But I am always well aware of how lucky I am to be able to do what I love.

I still have wonderful memories of my first season of ocean races. It was 2010-2011, and I had found a small sponsor, a company that worked in renewable energy: solar and wind. From the start, the type of company seemed particularly appropriate, and it was easy to embrace their principles and mission. After all, we had to cross the ocean with and thanks to the power of the wind, while the sun had to shine on the solar panels that charged the boat's batteries.  

But ten years ago, the concept of sustainability was not yet as commonplace as it is now, even though the pollution of the seas, global warming and the unsustainability of the majority of human activity were already having an intense, excessive impact.
Strategies and projects for interventions to lighten the ecological footprint of modern civilisation were still the prerogative of isolated visionary businesses, virtuous organisations and forward-thinking researchers.
It is the obvious and proven effects of the last decade that have forced the entire planet to focus its attention on the central issue, ignored for too long: man has mistreated the earth. Too much. And for too long.

I am not an expert on the matter, but it isn't necessary to be one to realise that even back then, unfortunately, the line had already been overstepped by a long way. I hope with all my heart that we have not already passed the point of no return.

Reflecting on these topics has made me even more passionate about the austere lifestyle of a sailor, because life on a boat is one of the most spontaneously sustainable you could imagine.

The boat represents a real microcosm, where daily life is by necessity sustainable.
You produce potable water with a desalinator, and obviously saving water is required for survival. The energy you have available is produced with solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-generators; there are batteries, but energy reserves must always be used with caution. Yes, of course, every now and then a generator is turned on to keep battery charging fully operational, but we are talking about a few litres of petrol to travel over 5000 miles.

When it comes to food, obviously it is rationed. We don't go hungry, but nor do we plan gargantuan feasts. We are sailing; our days are hard work and very active. Nutritious food, but nothing heavy. And above all, no waste. We use all of what is crammed into the larder.

Obviously, when we load the supplies, we reduce packaging to a minimum, and whatever we do bring with us we try to recycle once we reach land. Hoping that the recycling operators do their job.

Of course, we are not saving the world, and we don't spend our entire lives at sea, but these are virtuous behaviours you learn to make your own, naturally incorporating them into your daily life - on the boat, at home, in the street.  Each little individual gesture helps to improve the overall picture, every drop is a contribution to creating more responsibility, and many drops make an ocean. It seems a very appropriate metaphor.

Between 2013 and 2016, I sailed on a boat sponsored by Maserati, with the legendary Soldini in command. Thanks to him, we sailed all the oceans of the world; they were very special years, but maybe also the time when I became most aware of the dramatic state the world's seas are in.

I remember as if it were yesterday.
During the Pacific record from San Francisco to Shanghai, 2000 miles from China and 2000 miles from California, we saw everything: car tyres, fishing nets, plastic of every kind, a fridge.

In the middle of the deep, (you would think) uncontaminated water, the currents have been depositing the most unexpected objects for months, years. And while you enjoy the extraordinary view of the sunset over the ocean, your gaze is sadly drawn by the floating stains that dirty the surface.
Yes, the surface. Because that is what I can see from on board. I dare not imagine what and how much has settled on the bottom.

But there is another macro-issue closely linked to pollution, that we sailors have a lot to do with. Climate change.
I cross the Atlantic a couple of times a year, and over time I have seen evidence of a gradual change in meteorological trends. In particular, the number of sudden, violent storms has definitely increased compared to the past.

In 2017, Enel Green Power came on board as a sponsor for a two-year project; the aim was to take on a series of ocean races with an 100% eco-power boat, or rather, a boat that could be completely self-sufficient in terms of energy.
All the instruments on board were powered by renewable energy - solar panels, wind turbine, hydro-generator and an electric motor - but in the end it was not possible to complete.

The eco-power boat project is a wonderful project. Many people are working on it, and it still needs to be perfected.
But I am also of the idea that today we are witnessing some attempts to take the concept of sustainability in the wrong direction. Making many industrial processes and everyday practices more efficient and less consumerist is certainly the right thing to do, but there are some experiments that take on the typical appearance of an exercise in style, more for its impressive image than to create a practice that is truly effective and can be reproduced at scale.

I think that a radical change in cultural attitude and daily habits could already be an excellent starting point to introduce change. I try to reproduce the lifestyle I have when I am sailing as much as possible when I'm on land too. And I try to pass it on to those close to me.

And it is precisely with this intention that my new project, AFR - Andrea Fantini Racing came about: a human adventure, a sports project, a technical challenge and an experiment in environmental sustainability at sea.

Making clear reference to the UN 2030 Agenda Goals, the idea is to build a boat, a Class40, with recycled and/or recyclable materials, following processes and techniques that will ensure the structure has minimal environmental impact. The equipment on board will then be, depending on the technical sponsors that take part, systems and instruments created to optimise the saving of energy, water and food. We will push the concept of waste reduction and energy autonomy to the limit.
Unfortunately, the nautical industry is still not very aware of environmental issues, and every year boatyards produce thousands of boats made from fibreglass or carbon, but today there are materials that are decidedly more sustainable, and processes with less environmental impact.
Many companies in the nautical sector are working to both reduce the harmful components in resins, and insert new, non-toxic ones.
Bio-compatible, eco-composite and recyclable resins. Experimental boats are appearing on the market built with hemp, cork, linen and jute fibres, "bio" resins derived from wheat and cashew nuts, and attachments and steering gear reinforced with basalt fibre.

With this type of boat, we would like to sail around the world.

AFR is a challenge and an experiment, but it also aims to be an important message for the nautical industry: the opportunity to redeem ourselves after years of pollution, and be a virtuous example for all lovers of the sea, one of the most important elements of our ecosystem.


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What kind of beauty will save the world?
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