after a voyage of more than 62,000 nautical miles, the French environmental research vessel TARA will next week dock in London as part of an ongoing educational trip. we'll be co-hosting an exclusive evening tour and talk onboard the ship with AnOther Magazine, and there are also a series of other events and an exhibition at the Covent Garden branch of agnès b, who have sponsored the two most recent expeditions: a two-year drift through the Arctic pack ice and a circumnavigation of the globe to study plankton
super/collider's Chris Hatherill caught up with the TARA crew for an article, which appears in Issue 23 of AnOther, on newstands now...
Out there on the open ocean, among the thousands of fishing trawlers, oil tankers, rubbish barges and factory ships, a much smaller – and more positive – fleet is at work. In the southern oceans, the M/Y Steve Irwin and other ships of the Sea Shepherd fleet race against Japanese whaling vessels in a bid to stop the annual whale hunt. In Brazilian waters and off the west coast of Africa, Greenpeace ships like the Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise are protesting deforestation, Arctic drilling and illegal fishing. And for the past nine years, the French schooner Tara has been circling the globe on a series of scientific missions to help study climate change.
The vessel was formerly owned by artist Sir Peter Blake and his wife: “It was with much sympathy for Lady Pippa Blake, Peter’s widow, a wonderful woman and artist, and with admiration for Jean-Louis Etienne, a great man who designed the ship, that the agnès b. foundation bought this incredible ice-breaking sailboat,” explains Agnès Troublé, better known as fashion designer agnès b. “We baptised the boat Tara and have financed two important projects with a group of scientists and seasoned sailors. The first expedition was through the Arctic ice and the most recent project collected plankton from around the world. The data collected on these trips is important to the scientific world in the study of global warming.”
After traveling to Greenland, Antarctica, Patagonia, southern Georgia and the Arctic on previous missions, the Tara’s most recent foray saw the vessel covering 115,000 kilometres through the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans to study marine plankton – a form of sea life critical to understanding the way our planet is changing because it reacts so quickly to a changing atmosphere. As they put it succinctly, it’s like taking the pulse of the planet. “Earlier this year, I had the chance to board the Tara,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “the team was really inspiring.”
Having now returned to her home port in France, the Tara will set out on an educational tour which will see her sail around France and then on to the UK next year, before a return to the Arctic in 2013 and an exploration of coral reefs in 2014. The difficulty of operating safely at sea means costs for expeditions like this run into the millions, which is why partners like agnès b are vital. For Agnès herself, it’s a natural fit, given her love of the ocean. “My brother, Bruno Troublé, organises a lot of great sailing races,” she explains. “Sometimes I spend time on a small island in Brittany and we go sailing together. I have always loved the sea, and rivers too. By three and a half I could swim!”
for more about the TARA's voyages, visit taraexpeditions.org