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Sustainability is education

  • The solid multidisciplinary formation of the skippers makes a two crew round-the-world trip like the Barcelona World Race possible.
  • Climatology, meteorology, medicine and engineering are essential in single-handed and two-crew sailing.
  • Organisation aboard an IMOCA 60 shows an analogy with the projects of the We Are Water Foundation which takes water and sanitation to deprived areas with the aim of sustainability.

Just before and shortly after turning the mythical Cape Horn, the We Are Water crossed the meridians of the projects of Nicaragua, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. In these as in all the Foundation’s projects, training is essential to achieve their sustainability. The beneficiaries, who in many cases participate directly in the work, are later those who must ensure the management and maintenance of the installations or work programmes. This means that the entire project must be accompanied by a long-term educational programme which is essential for guaranteeing its sustainability. Training, understood as the result of a long-term educational programme, is also the starting point of the programmes that have a direct bearing on hygiene and healthiness, and on the recovery of the water cycle in areas punished by erosion or unsuitable agricultural and livestock breeding methods. 

Without training there is no efficient management, and without efficient management there is no sustainability and the results of aid cannot last in time. This principle can be applied to ocean sailing that has interesting analogies with the development of training in the projects.

Theoretical and practical multidisciplinary training

An ocean yachtsman who sets off on a regatta alone or two-crew must possess a very high level of knowledge to handle efficiently the complex "smart city" that an IMOCA 60 such as the We Are Water is, completing the round-the-world trip and finishing the Barcelona World Race. It is a metaphor applicable to the philosophy of the Foundation’s aid projects.

In fact, Bruno and Willy García have extensive theoretical and practical training in a wide range of disciplines and techniques. This know-how enables them to manage any activity themselves related to sailing and survival, and makes them self-sufficient except for food which is the only thing that, in a sporting contest, must be provided from the outside.

Firstly, they must have an in-depth knowledge of meteorology. The knowledge of this science in constant evolution is the basis of not only sporting success in the regatta but also their own safety. Planning a round-the-world sailing trip is firstly climatic: the team must forecast what general conditions it is going to experience throughout the route and prepare the factors that depend on them. Any planning of the activities on board depends on the weather forecast: the frequency of manoeuvres, the order of stowage of the sails, energy consumption, guard standbys, clothing and food.


Later, when sailing, meteorology becomes a central question of life on board. Yachtsmen must have, firstly, deep theoretical knowledge that enables them to understand and forecast the evolution of the meteorological systems that they encounter along the way; but later they must act in consequence, appropriately interpreting the signs of the sophisticated computer programmes that make up the meteorological data with the specifications of speed of their boat. This means knowing how to handle the communication systems via satellite, the navigational software and electronics on board.

If the electronics cannot fail – and the circuits and connections have many adverse factors in a constantly humid atmosphere, as well as being threatened by saltpetre – neither can the electricity. In their sailing routine, Bruno and Willy check the state of the batteries every day and test how consumption and charging is going. This is when the forecast for the charge from the hydro-generators comes into play, the source of clean energy that all the boats in the Barcelona World Race have and which enables them to do without the engine-alternator to the maximum.

The yachtsmen of the Barcelona World Race also have to be able to repair the majority of the breakdowns that continually occur when sailing. This means they must know about electricity, mechanics and chemistry. The must be capable of repairing a water purifier (see the newsletter), or an alternator, as well as stick a torn sail or laminate with polyester resin an imperfection in the hull.

They must also have a good knowledge of medicine, know how to act quickly in case of a personal accident on board and diagnose an illness. These actions on the We Are Water are ensured by Bruno García, cardiologist by profession, but for the other skippers this knowledge is essential, as well as knowing how to establish a tele-medical consultation and use the Medicine at Distance Guide they have on board.

In contrast to the regattas with crew, which is made up of a team of specialists, in single-handed or two-crew sailing a high level of multidisciplinary training is essential, so that each yachtsman must literally “know how to do everything and do it well”.

Bruno and Willy show us each day on the We Are Water that their model is applicable to any project however complex the application of the solutions may be. With education and training wells can emerge from the desert, woods be regenerated and water collected in time for the dry season. They can avoid illnesses, empower women and slow down undignified migratory processes. The training that makes Bruno and Willy free to sail around the world also makes free and dignified those who need water and sanitation.

Remember that you can follow the Argo buoy that Bruno and Willy García launched at the We Are Water buoy page.

The We Are Water has left behind the southern latitudes and is sailing in the Atlantic. In fourth place, Bruno and Willy are about 3,800 miles from the finishing line. The message is still going around the world (go to the meridians page).

About the We Are Water Foundation

The We Are Water Foundation, promoted by the Roca company, has as objectives, on the one hand, to raise awareness amongst the general public and the administrations about the need to promote a new culture of water and, on the other hand, relieve the negative effects related to the lack of hydric resources, through the development of cooperation and aid programmes alongside diverse organisations such as Education without Frontiers, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Intermón Oxfam and UNICEF.