Nautilus | Oceans – Interview

To Protect the Ocean, We Must Love It
How a life on the water inspired Dona Bertarelli

On November 22, 2015 Dona Bertarelli and 13 other crew members aboard Spindrift 2, a 131-foot-long racing trimaran, set sail from Ouessant Island, France. Their destination: a lighthouse in Cornwall, England, about 120 miles north, but they headed south. Bertarelli and her team were chasing the Trophée Jules Verne, a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of Earth in a boat propelled only by the wind and its crew.

The reference mark was set in 1993, with a journey that lasted—apropos of the trophy’s namesake, author of such adventure classics as Around the World in 80 Days—79 days, 6 hours, and 15 minutes. Since then it’s been attempted and failed 24 times, and beaten just eight times. Bertarelli’s journey would take some 29,000 miles, a marathon dance of wind, waves, and physical prowess that ended 47 days, 10 hours, and 59 minutes later. They beat the original record time by more than a month, but fell short of the record at the time by about two days. Bertarelli still made history, though: she became the fastest woman to sail around the world.

The attempt also reinforced her lifelong love of the ocean and its denizens. The daughter of Swiss businessman and philanthropist Fabio Bertarelli, Dona is, with her brother Ernesto, co-chair of the Bertarelli Foundation, which supports marine conservation and science. The foundation has helped establish several marine protected areas—including the Chagos Archipelago in the British Indian Ocean Territory, Turneffe Atoll in Belize, and off the coast of Easter Island—and left a legacy that will last for generations. Last year she became Special Adviser for the Blue Economy to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; in that role she will work to make ocean-derived economic activity more ecologically sound.

Recently Nautilus talked to Bertarelli about her passion for the ocean and its protection. Read the interview here:

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