Vineyard Cup

Case Study

If you want to be part of the race, you have to play by the rules.

Described as a “locally-sourced, zero waste event,” the Vineyard Cup is more than just a big deal on a small island; their influence extends to regattas around the country.

There are a few core components that we see over and over again with regard to high performing Clean Regattas like the Vineyard Cup. Institutional capacity is one factor: does the regatta have enough people power to not only run a successful event, but a sustainable one as well? We’ve found that when volunteers are overly burdened with too many responsibilities and are ill-informed about their objectives, then there’s a good chance the compost bucket won’t get checked half as often as it deserves. An agreed upon sustainability vision and associated goals often goes hand-in-hand with institutional capacity. Take Sail Martha’s Vineyard’s sustainability vision as an example:

“As an organization that places its passion and respect for the sea that surrounds its Island home above all else, Sail Martha’s Vineyard seeks to further develop and promote an environmentally responsible event model of sustainability that becomes the standard, not only on Martha’s Vineyard, but over time, across the entire United States sailing community.”

Zero Waste… or simply Recycling?

One of the biggest misconceptions being touted is that “zero waste” and “recycling” are synonymous with each other. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. “Zero waste” is a set of principles focused on waste prevention and encourages the redesign of products to eliminate wasteful and polluting practices. This is similar to recycling but at the end of the day, it’s important to note that only 9% of all plastic is recycled. By advocating for more zero waste solutions, the Vineyard Cup was able to serve 900 meals in 2018 while only creating such a paucity of waste that it could be contained inside a box that measured 1.5’ x 2’ x 1’. 

Major waste reduction came from using real plates, forks, glasses, and napkins during post-race dinners.

Waste was sorted in four categories: compost, recycling, re-use, and trash. A Green Team made up of kids from the summer sailing program was enlisted to help educate guests about what could go where.

Sustainability Initiatives

If you want to be part of the race, you have to play by the rules.

Sail MV ensured that a Notice of Expectations to competitors about their sustainability policy, efforts, and expectations (i.e. no single-use plastic water bottles) was sent out to al competitors. All communications were done paperlessly. This included the NOR (Notice of Race), sailing instructions and course diagrams. Also included in the sustainability initiatives is a pledge for competitors and guests to sign in support of reducing trash in our oceans.

Locally Sourced Food

Sail MV strives to source all food as locally as possible. In 2018, the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust provided all the local seafood served over the three-day event. This organization works to safeguard the island’s fishing heritage and future by supporting the island’s small-boat, owner-operated fishing fleet and their sustainably harvested catch.

Ocean Awareness Tent

As a means of educating more participants about specific pressures humans are putting on the ocean, the Vineyard Cup invited local environmental groups to provide learning materials and activities for kids and adults at the Ocean Awareness Tent. The groups included BiodiversityWorks, MV Shellfish Group, Great Pond Foundation, MV Preservation Trust, Sea Education Association, and the Vineyard Conservation Society. From fish printing, canvas bag decorating, to understanding ocean acidification, each group provided information about its focus as well as offering an activity.