II. SAILING FOR OCEAN PROTECTION
1. M-I: Can you briefly tell us what eXXpedition Round The World is?
Irina: eXXpedition is a series of all women voyages around the world, between 2019-2021, to make the unseen seen, from the toxics in our bodies to the plastics in our seas.
During an eXXpedition voyage, environmental samples are collected to assess plastic and pollutants, feeding in these samples to wider studies investigating the impacts of toxics and plastics pollutants and linking this sampling to narratives of ecosystem health, personal health and the products we consume.
During the interview process I learned that there were over 6,000 women who applied for the voyages, but only 140 will get the chance to sail. I am thrilled for being selected to sail during Phase II of the project, on a voyage which has been on my “bucket list”! More specifically, I will be part of the voyage from San Cristobel, Galapagos on 15th of February 2020 until Easter Island on 4th of March 2020.
2. M-I: What will be your role in this eXXpedition?
Irina: My role as crew member is participating in sailing the boat, but also as a citizen scientist, collaborating to collect data onboard for our scientific partners who will then analyze samples and use the data to write influential scientific papers. This helps to add to our global knowledge on the plastics and toxics problem.
After completing the voyage, I will be an eXXpedition ambassador. Through talks, blog, interviews and writing, I will be sharing my experience, referencing the studies together with first-hand anecdotal stories gained on board, thus spreading an ‘evidence based’ understanding of plastic pollution in our environment.
3. M-I: What do you hope to bring to this eXXpedition?
Irina: I aim to contribute multi-fold towards eXXpedition voyage. Although I only got the confirmation recently, I already started penciling my strategy for this incredible adventure and what I would like to achieve. It is a great chance to contribute with my energy, experience, sailing skills and time to such a worthy cause!
I would like to set up an on-line journal, similar to a blog where my friends, my community and also any nature lovers, environmental supporters can follow my adventure. Of course, I would like to embark few strategic sponsors who can partner with my eXXpedition voyage and contribute to its success.
Last but not least, I hope to bring Broth by Design products as part of the crew nutrition, as they would be ideal on a boat. Practical weight and occupying little space, easy to prepare with one cup of hot water, contributing essential nutrition and numerous benefits for life at sea.
4. M-I: Have you ever sailed before? Are you the adventurous type?
Irina: Yes, I’ve been sailing since over 15 years! I am a proud member of the Yacht Club of Monaco and under its flagship, participated in many important regattas. I even have couple of trophies at home.
I am selectively adventurous! I’ve done many things to push my boundaries and confront my fears, and in the process, I picked up few lifetime passions. Sailing is one of them! And I love to be in nature as much as possible.
5. M-I: How did you hear about this initiative and why did you choose to apply?
Irina: A dear friend of mine sent me a link of an article which was talking about this incredible initiative. She knew my passion for sailing and love for sea and nature, so she thought would interest me. It did! I applied almost instantly after reading the mission of eXXpedition and its ambitious project.
The whole selection process took several months, involving some written tests, preparing a motivation video and a thorough interview in the final round.
6. M-I: Why is Ocean Protection a matter that is close to your heart?
Irina: As a child, I used to watch “The undersea world” of Jacques Cousteau and was fascinated by Calypso’s voyages. I was dreaming that one day, I would be diving and see all these wonderful sea creatures! I got my diving license at 18 and since I had the chance to dive in so many places around the world.
Sadly with time, I noticed so much damage to the environment, the destruction of the coral reefs, extinction or endangering of numerous species!
As Cousteau once said: “The ocean is the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat!”