Sport and the environment in which we play can change lives
My early life has been shaped and influenced by two of the most amazing role models, Sir Peter Blake and Jacques Cousteau. Both courageous adventures and ocean pioneers who captivated my imagination as a child and have helped shaped my beliefs and values ever since.
Sir Peter was arguably the greatest sailor in history winning the Whitbread round the world race (now Volvo Ocean Race), the America’s Cup and breaking the Jules Verne Trophy. He was an inspirational leader whose influence touched many people’s lives. His love of the oceans led him to become the figurehead of the Cousteau Society and it was during one of his scientific voyages for UNEP in the Amazon River that he was tragically murdered. It was Sir Peter Blake’s Whitbread race in 1989 that inspired me to take part in the 1993/94 edition of the race.
Jacques Cousteau was a ocean pioneer, who invented the modern day aqualung and brought the undersea world to the masses. The oceans support all life on earth, giving us the food we eat and air we breath and yet we still know so little about it and treat it like a giant magic carpet. We continually take fish and minerals out of the ocean and hope that it will magically replenish itself, whilst at the same time, we lift one corner like a giant rug and sweep our rubbish underneath, hoping the tides and currents will make it disappear. Both assumptions we now know are dangerously wrong.
Sport and the Environment in which we play provide perfect metaphors for life. Sport teaches us about the importance of dreams and how we are only limited by our own belief. The environment is our playground and for me, my “raison d’etre” for doing sport. The environment provides the oxygen for life.
It is for this reason that in 2007, I founded the Blue Project (now Blue Foundation) to support programmes and charities whose raison d’etre (purpose) is to inspire young people to immerse themselves in our Blue environment and learn how to protect and dream about its, and their own future.
Conrad set up the Blue Project (now Blue Foundation) in 2007 after finishing the Vendee Globe. He felt strongly that the environmental protection for our blue spaces was uninspiring and believed the way to encourage greater protection of our oceans was through immersing people in our blue environment. Blue has raised over £100,000 to support the work of leading environmental charities including WWF, the Marine Conservation Society and The Shark Trust.
The Island Trust
Conrad is a trustee of the Island Trust which since 1973, has been transforming young lives by providing confidence-building, traditional adventure sailing. From very small beginnings we have grown, now helping hundreds of disadvantaged young people annually, from every background from across the UK, to get out on the water and experience the joy, adventure and freedom of a voyage at sea. For more information please visit The Island Trust