University Sustainability Challenge

The Green Blue

The Green Blue is the joint environment programme created by the Royal Yachting Association and British Marine launched in 2005 at the Southampton Boat Show. We help boat users, boating businesses, clubs and training centres to reduce their impact on coastal and inland waters to keep them in great shape for now and the future. The Green Blue raises awareness, supports practical projects, runs bespoke outreach activities and offers easy to follow advice to make boating in the UK as sustainable as possible.

The Green Blue - launched at the Southampton Boat Show on 19th September 2005 - is the environmental awareness programme set up by the Royal Yachting Association and British Marine. Its mission is to promote the sustainable use of coastal and inland waters by boating and watersports participants, as well as the sustainable operation and development of the recreational boating industry.

The Green Blue's objective is to help boaters and boating businesses to minimise their impact on the environment by raising awareness amongst industry and users; reducing harmful discharges; reducing environmental disturbance; and encouraging sustainable choices.

2017 Challenge winners receive their awards from Kate Fortnam of Green Blue and Peter Saxton, BUSA President at the 2017 Dinghy Show

Bangor USC demonstrate their reusable water bottles

*** LATEST NEWS – May 2019 ***

Emma Fox the Challenge Coordinator, wrote to all USC Commodores on, or around, 27 May, 2019, inviting participation in the ‘University Sailing Sustainability Challenge (USSC) 2019-20’, set up by The Green Blue, the RYA and British Marine’s environmental initiative and supported by BUSA. “Last year we had twenty USCs involved and this year many are returning to compete in the challenge again. It would be great to have (your university) involved and part of the action as well”.

Background to Challenge
“The USSC has now been running for three years and due to its previous success is going ahead for the fifth year. The challenge was set up by The Green Blue to get the next generation of boaters becoming ‘green champions’ for UK sailing. We believe university students have a good background knowledge and passion for the environment and are great role models for the rest of the UK boating community.

“This challenge offers USCs the opportunity to work with their sailing venues more closely towards a common aim and also provide USC's with the chance of making an environmental difference to their immediate sailing environment and win prizes and certificates for their achievements.

The Challenge Outline

“The Challenge involves USC's undertaking a number of set sustainable actions between September 1st 2019 and 19th February 2020. There is a Bronze, Silver and Gold Award level that can be achieved by your USC to take back to your Student Union with pride. To reach each award level there is a certain number of environmentally sustainable actions that must be completed by your club and sailing venue.

“Each USC starts off by appointing one or two Sustainability Officers who act as The Green Blue’s my main point of contact throughout the challenge and will be responsible for getting the sustainable actions achieved, evidenced and emailed to myself, the Challenge Coordinator, at The Green Blue.

“Additionally, this year, The Green Blue is introducing a new element to the Challenge. If your USC has previously taken part and successfully completed all of the actions at the Bronze or Silver level, you will be allowed to start completing the next award level. This is in order to allow clubs to progress and achieve higher levels of sustainability. However, if one of the tasks was only partially completed, all of the actions will need to be carried out again in the new year in order to qualify as completing that level. If you believe your USC is in this position, please contact me, and we will confirm the award level your USC can start competing from.

“A cash prize draw will be held at the end of the challenge for the USCs that have achieved the most sustainable actions. In addition, all competing USC's will be invited to attend the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show in March 2019 where the top achieving USC's in the challenge will be awarded their certificates by The Green Blue and BUSA on the mainstage.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon, Emma Fox”.

***LATEST NEWS*** - April 2019:

The 2018-19 Challenge culminated in presentations at the RYA Dinghy Show in early March. This was reported in BUSA News and in a Report [a version was also published by Yachts & Yachting].

BlueGreen announced that there would be a further Challenge in 2019-20. University Sailing Clubs (USCs) are invited to participate, as well as existing participants welcome for another year with a view to progressing to the higher levels of achievement in the Challenge.

The student Coordinator for the year will be Emma Fox, who has experience of the Challenge as previous USC Sustainability Officer. She will shortly be contacting Commodores and their USCs, but anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to make contact with her.


The following information from 2019-19 will be updated shortly.


Starts September 1st 2018 - February 2019.

The Green Blue's University Sailing Sustainability Challenge is an annual competition designed to encourage university sailing clubs to take action to make their sailing more environmentally sustainable.

Supported by British Universities Sailing Association (BUSA), the initiative was launched in 2015 and in its first year saw 10 university sailing clubs signing up. In first place, achieving the Gold Award and receiving the £500 top prize was York University Sailing and Windsurfing Club. The University of Strathclyde Sailing Club clinched second place with a Silver Award and a £250 prize and finally in 3rd place after battling stiff competition from a number of other clubs was the University of Plymouth Sailing and Powerboating Club who achieved the Bronze Award and a £100 prize. The success of the challenge saw 20 university sailing clubs actively participate in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 challenge. In the most recent challenge the University of Manchester Sailing Club came in first, followed by Aberdeen University Sailing Club and Swansea University Sailing Club.

The challenge involves University Sailing Clubs competing to undertake as many sustainable actions as they can throughout the academic year. By undertaking these positive actions they will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the boating community how achievable and rewarding sustainable boating can be.

Each club needs to appoint a Sustainability Officer who will act as The Green Blue’s main point of contact and the key driver to lead their club to success. In the last challenge students undertaking geography, science and marine related degrees were keen to take up the position to build on their skills and knowledge and add their involvement with a UK Sustainable Boating Programme to their CV.

Sustainable actions include: ensuring sailing venues have a Spill Kit available to clean up any accidental spills when boaters are handling oil and fuel, ensuring members use re-usable sports bottles during training sessions and events to reduce waste and single use plastic bottles, and making sure boats, trailers and equipment follow the Check Clean Dry approach to minimise the risk of spreading invasive non-native species around UK waters.

Sustainability Officer for York University Sailing and Windsurfing Club (YUSWC), Blair Davies said: “The sustainability challenge has been great in stimulating new attitudes as to how our club operates. As an environmental science student, it has given me the chance to apply my knowledge to lessen the environmental impacts of YUSWC. For the club it’s been pivotal in establishing sustainable attitudes of all members, gaining recognition from the university’s sports union and BUSA. There’s always room to improve operations to become more sustainable, and The Green Blue initiative gives impetus to UK sailing clubs to be greener. It’s very gratifying and something every club should get on board with.”

For more information or if your university sailing club want to be involved in the 2018-19 challenge, contact Kate Fortnam, The Green Blue’s Campaign Manager, or call 023 8060 4227.

You can cheer on the University Sailing Clubs through the Sustainability Challenge by following us Twitter - @thegreenblue - or on the Green Blue's Facebook page.

Other links: The GreenBlue website has lots of information, resources, ideas and news. The University Sustainability Challenge is also described there (as above)