Despite the wind, water is on the agenda

There were no races on Wednesday's programme because of the threat of bad weather, but there was a conference on "Water Wardens By Rowing", a title that caught our interest. We needed to know more...

After the speech by President Christian Vandenberghe, who reiterated the federation's commitment to institutions, one of the 5 projects out of 78 was selected. He also pointed out that in all the countries where we row, the environment and water are respected and there is a willingness to work locally for a global approach.

Patricia Lambert, Strategic Adviser Sustainability for World Rowing, will be leading the conference.

There were a number of speakers:

WWF, whose areas of activity go far beyond the protection of pandas, cares about forests, oceans, fresh water, wildlife, etc. Nature is in crisis and biodiversity is declining due to the loss of fresh water and the ubiquity of plastic. Their goal: to raise awareness among their partners, including the entire rowing community, by delivering educational messages.

Founded by American surfers, the Surfrider Foundation is expanding its activities around the world with the primary goal of protecting the oceans, rivers, and waves. Their messages also aim to raise awareness and educate the public to stop waste getting into the oceans, as well as to evaluate the current situation to reduce the environmental impact. Changing habits, recycling and reusing is the priority.

The last speaker was Christian Gruault, a self-proclaimed freshwater sailor who travelled from Warsaw to Paris between 1 May and 18 June 2023 exclusively via freshwater rivers. His custom-built boat was equipped with a system of bearings and connecting rods that allowed him to make the same movement on his runner as we do with oars, but with forward propulsion! His plan to cross Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, then Belgium and France had a sporting, scientific and educational purpose. The pollution of rivers can be seen with the naked eye: There is plastic everywhere, especially in Belgium and France!

The first conclusion: everything that falls on the ground pollutes and ends up in the rivers. Cities with clean streets are not affected by this principle. Samples have been taken in each country and are currently being analysed. They will be presented to the Natural History Museum in January 2024.

In conclusion, everyone stressed the need for concrete action, with the rowing federation developing educational tools and applications.

Let's all be the guardians of water. To quote Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Water, you have no taste, no color, no smell, we can’t define you, we drink you without knowing you. You are not necessary to live, you are life” ».