Conrad explains his motivation behind the BLUE Project.
Q1. How does your sport connect you the the natural environment and how does that environment continually motivate and inspire you?
A1. Sailing as a sport opened a window for me at a very young age, to a competitive world where to succeed, you need to have an intimate relationship with the natural environment. Whether it’s surfing down a crest of a 50ft wave or deciding your tactics from the clouds in the sky, it’s the element of the sport where I connect the most.
I can vividly remember at the age of 20 surfing for days on end in the Southern Ocean, sometimes lying in my bunk listening to the water rushing past the sides of the boat. It’s difficult to describe the emotion that it evokes, other than every time I look out at the ocean, the hairs still stand up on the back of my neck.
Q2. What has your sport and experiences through it, taught you about your natural environment?
A2. It was through sailing that I was drawn to study ocean science. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the climate and the oceans, so that I could perform at a higher level. On a micro level, understanding the weather gives you greater options on the water. At a macro level, the climate and oceans circulation maintain the delicate balance for all life on Earth.
Q3. A healthy environment is necessary for healthy sports. Through participating in your sport, have you encountered anything that has truly shocked you about the impact human activity is having on the natural environment?
A3. It has always concerned me the way we treat the ocean in two quite contradictory ways. We see the ocean as a great carpet – we can life up the corner and sweep away our rubbish – out of sight, out of mind. Or we see it as an endless treasure chest that we can take what we want from and it will, as if by magic, self-replenish and never run out. We now know that both assumptions are dangerously wrong.
Q4. If you could motivate people (on a local, national, or international level) on one particular environmental issue, what would it be?
A4. I want young people to see that it is cool to care about the environment and not just for the “greeny weenies”. This is our biggest challenge.
Q5. What have you changed in your day to day living behaviours and choices, including how you go-about your sport, that makes a positive difference?
A5. The greatest change that I have made is to use my time and influence to develop creative and imaginative way’s in which we reach the widest possible audience with the message that it’s cool to care about the environment.
I try to notice the positive impacts that we are seeing across the country rather than the negative effects. I take my daughters out onto the coast as often as possible so that they learn to love the outdoors.
I use the fantastic imagery of my sport to promote the environment, including taking people out on the water who can influence others.
Q6. Why did you get involved with The BLUE Climate and Oceans Project?
A6. The BLUE Project features fantastic cool people who are using their voice to highlight the beauty of their natural environment. Sport can do many things, it can bring real change to people’s lives and the Blue Project is a place where we can reach a greater audience.
Q7. What one piece of advice would you offer to get people, specifically young people, thinking proactively about a Blue future? And what actions could they take to achieve that?
A7. Young people are influenced by role modest and their peers, so we need to find the young champions in schools who can really influence their friends. We need less doom and gloom if we are to inspire young people and we need to reach them through the channels that they know and follow. We can all become “Champions of the Environment”.