In this Tech Talk report, Adam Balkin looks how environmentally friendly technology being used in the America’s Cup sailing race could potentially help make us all a bit greener.

By its nature, sailing is an environmentally friendly sport. However, one team competing in the America’s Cup, one of the most prestigious races in the world, has decided it wants to get even greener. 

In fact, Britain’s Land Rover BAR team is hoping to use the race as proof that being more sustainable doesn’t necessarily mean being of lesser quality, or in this case, being slower.

 “It’s really important that we use the platform of America’s Cup - which is an exciting, high technology, high profile platform - we use it to promote lots of good things, so promoting technology, promoting speed, but also promoting sustainability,” says Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of Land Rover BAR. “You know, making sure that we are making as small an impact on the planet as we can and making sure that we encourage the other teams in America’s Cup to join us.”

So in addition to bringing on 11th Hour Racing, an organization that promotes initiatives that preserve the oceans, the team also keeps very close tabs on the entire process of getting to the final race. Things like making sure all the test boats they build are recycled properly, developing chase boats that use less fuel, even eliminating certain chase boats.

In addition, the British racing team says the green technology it is working on is not just for sailing, but has potential to reach far beyond.

In particular, what to do with carbon fiber. The go-to material for making the boats is extremely light and strong, yet also extremely difficult to dispose of in an environmentally friendly way.

 “The carbon fiber industry is accelerating in its growth and is really being pushed as a new technology, yet we don’t have an answer to the end of its life or a really good answer,” says Susie Tomson, sustainability manager at Land Rover BAR. “So we’re really trying to pull what we do know together, pull that together from various different research organizations to try and accelerate that understanding and actually solve the problem before we create it."

And since the winner of the race gets to choose some of the conditions for the next one, the British team says if it happens to take the cup in Bermuda in June of next year, one of the rules it’ll put into place will be that each boat must be made of a certain percentage of recycled materials.