A unique partnership for ocean science

UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is the United Nations body responsible for supporting global ocean sciences and services. It enables its 150 Member States to work together to protect the health of our common ocean by coordinating, through its teams of experts, programmes in ocean observations, hazard mitigation, tsunami warning and marine spatial planning. The IOC, in collaboration with the teams of the "Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMMOPS) In-Situ Observing Programme Support Centre" (IOSC), also provides guidance to other international organizations and States on ocean monitoring and observation and data exchange. One of IOC's main objectives is to enable Member States to build the scientific and institutional capacity needed to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, which aims to conserve and sustainably manage marine resources by 2030.

IMOCA skippers support scientists

On 31 January 2020, UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the IMOCA class signed a new partnership at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. All operational activities to be carried out, such as deployments of meteorological and oceanographic instruments, will be coordinated by JCOMMOPS, the international centre of excellence for the coordination of in situ observing programmes of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). For 20 years JCOMMOPS, which is part of the IOC and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), has been responsible for the coordination, harmonization and implementation of a network of 10,000 in situ meteorological and oceanic observing platforms, ensuring the continuous monitoring of the ocean and atmosphere. For the Vendée - Arctic - Les Sables d'Olonne race, Boris Hermann (Seaexplorer - YC of Monaco) will embark and deploy an Argo profiling float (International Global Ocean Observing Program launched in 2000) - operated by Argo-France. The boats of Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer - YC of Monaco) and Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest - Art & Fenêtres) will be equipped with oceanographic sensors. Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut), Miranda Merron (Campagne de France), Manuel Cousin (Groupe SETIN), Armel Tripon (L'Occitane en Provence), Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) and Maxime Sorel (V&B - Mayenne) will embark weather buoys. All of these scientific instruments are designed to collect data such as CO2 levels, salinity and seawater temperature. The data collected thus enable GOOS scientists to study the climate and make projections on the evolution of global warming, to preserve the health of the ocean and to improve meteorological services. In some parts of the world, the scientific community is short of data. With this in mind, the race direction has determined the waypoint for the course, just north of 62°00,000 N025°00,000W: this is where the Argo profiling float will be deployed.



Founded in 1887, the Institut Pasteur is an international research and teaching institute at the heart of future progress in science, medicine and public health. A non-profit foundation recognised as being of public utility, the Pasteur Institute carries out four major missions of general interest: research, teaching, the health of populations and individuals, the development of innovation and technology transfer.

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institut Pasteur - 33% of whose budget relies on the generosity of the public - is calling on researchers to mobilize in order to propose as quickly as possible new means of screening, prevention and treatment to combat the virus.

The organisation of the Vendée - Arctic - Les Sables d'Olonne wanted to give visibility to the Institut Pasteur. By drawing parallels with the world of ocean racing, the aim is to make the public aware of the actions carried out by the institute on a daily basis and in times of crisis. At each view of the race map, sailing enthusiasts will be asked to make a donation to the Pasteur Institute. At the start and finish, the boats will bear the institute's colours. Throughout the course, the work of researchers will be highlighted through video capsules broadcast on the race site.



© Eloi Stichelbaut/Dongfeng Race Team

In 2019-2020, the IMOCA class is planning to write a commitment charter together with The Ocean Race. That way, the class will associate with one of the most engaged race, in order to promote sustainable initiatives, and develop new onboard energy systems on the boats, to limit our global impact on the oceans. 

During the 2017-18 edition of the legendary round the world race, The Ocean Race chose to focus on sustainabilty, and mainly on reducing plastic pollution in our oceans. The Ocean Race proposed an action plan with numerous concrete initiatives such as the organisation of Ocean Summits and workshops in 7 host cities around the world. 

Moreover, the Turn the Tide on Plastic boat took part in the race, to spread the message around the globe. An educational kit has also been distributed in 38 different countries. The scientific program conducted during the whole race offered a perfect opportunity to gather data on the extent of plastic pollution, with microplastics found in the most remote parts of the oceans. The Ocean Race put sustainability at the core of its race, and has a real ambition of being a catalyst for positive change inside and outisde the sailing world. 

Today, the new relation between the IMOCA class and The Ocean Race goes along the wish of the skippers themselves, to contribute and act for a real change. It is necessary that all the different actors of our sport 'sail with purpose'. 

The Ocean Race offers an educational kit, for childrens from all around the world. This program is currently available on this page





© Jean-Louis Carli / ALeA / TJV17

In 2007, the Transat Jacques Vabre launched a sustainable development programme: Put out to sea, take action for the earth. This programme, has developed year on year and today it comprises over 40 actions geared around societal, educational and environmental themes, such as the involvement of people engaging in community service, the elimination of single-use plastic in all the venues managed by the organisation, 100% selective sorting of the village waste, no fliers in the village, highlighting of ‘soft’ (human-powered) transport, actions to raise public awareness, etc.

Moreover, the organisers of the Coffee Route have signed the charter detailing the 15 environmentally-friendly pledges of sports event organisations, launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Sports, in partnership with the NGO WWF France, and are joining forces with the Ocean as Common appeal, in a bid to consider all marine spaces, be they coastal or offshore, as a shared resource of Mankind.

The Transat Jacques Vabre, recognised as a prime example of an eco-friendly event by the Ademe in 2009, fleshes out its commitments from one edition to the next in a bid to take practical action and raise public awareness.