America's Cup partners with ocean conservationists

October 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The America's Cup yacht race, coming to San Francisco, will partner with ocean conservationists to use the high profile event for a powerful message about the environment. Organizers say it's good for the planet and smart marketing.

They're calling it the America's Cup Healthy Ocean Project. It's an effort by the America's Cup to be more than just a rich man's game and for environmentalists it is access to a global megaphone for getting out their message.

The former CEO of Levi Strauss, John Anderson, says it's just good business to be about more than profit.

"We're seeing some of the demonstrations take place today in cities around the world that no one would ever have thought about, where people are saying, 'It's not enough just to be profitable, there needs to be principles involved as well,'" said Anderson.

The match between the business of marketing the world's most prestigious yacht race and protecting the oceans is a natural said the America's Cup Event Authority chief operating officer Tom Huston.

"Using the power of our worldwide series of events and our events here in San Francisco, to be able to pool that resource and pool that community and spread the message and really drive awareness to this important campaign," said Huston.

On board is world renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle, Ph.D. She is the former chief scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, leader of more than 60 expeditions, and the founder of National Geographic's Mission Blue.

"I think having America's Cup get behind the whole concept of healthy oceans -- good for us, good for the fish, good for the whole system -- is really strong, really powerful," said Earle.

Earle says the America's Cup event can do a lot to educate people about the race to save the planet.

"We're at a crossroads. Either we'll take action and there will be tuna, there will be whales, there will be coral reefs," said Earle.

Or within our lifetime those could be gone.

"We do have time, but not a lot. This is the time," said Earle.

Earle, a Bay Area resident, is donating her time to the cause. The executive director of Save The Bay, David Lewis, is very optimistic.

"The America's Cup Event Authority has made a huge commitment to helping the oceans and the bay as part of this race," said Lewis.

Right now a big part of that commitment is producing conservation videos that will be included in America's Cup coverage. San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu says there's more.

"Well I want to make sure that the America's Cup's vision of a zero waste event is not just a vision, but actually is reality," said Chiu.

Chiu says there's a lot of work and planning yet to do. If the America's Cup can deliver, it'll go a long way toward shaking the rich man's play-thing perception that has dogged efforts to make the America's Cup a popular sporting event in the United States.

Protecting the oceans is also a big part of a special program that we are airing Saturday, Oct. 22 at 10 p.m. The California Academy of Sciences expedition went to the Philippines and ABC7 went along.


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