Meet Liz Wardley – sailor and scientist at the Volvo Ocean Race

Liz Wardley is the Boat Captain of the Mirpuri Foundation Turn the Tide on Plastic team in the Volvo Ocean Race, but also the person in charge of the Science Programme Instrument onboard,  collecting data on microplastics.

An ocean sustainability advocate, Wardley made her name in the Hobie Cat 16 class, where she won numerous titles, and went on to became a skipper in the Sydney to Hobart Race at the age of just 19 years. She knows the VO65 better than anyone, having spent thousands of hours racing the boat and working on the refit at the Boatyard. She participated in two previous Volvo Ocean Race editions, having sailed onboard Amer Sports Too in 2001-02, Team SCA in 2014-15 and now Turn the Tide on Plastic team, raising awareness on plastic pollution.

The Mirpuri Foundation talked to Liz in Hong Kong and she walked us through her routines and how the science programme prototype works.

She explained that they have a micro plastic filter and system that works every time that the engine is running and there is water passing through it. Every two days someone has to change the filters and catalog the samples according to the place where they are in the world and time. This data is later analyzed by specialists.

During the Hong Kong Ocean Summit, some of the results were revealed, proving that microplastic particles have been found in the oceans close to the Antarctic Ice Exclusion Zone. There were 89 microplastic particles per cubic metre found in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, west of Cape Town, South Africa. And on the third leg of the race, 152 microplastic particles per cubic metre of ocean were discovered east of South Africa. In Australian waters, close to Melbourne, 115 particles per cubic metre of ocean were found.

A sailor but also a “scientist” onboard,  Liz Wardley congratulated the Mirpuri Foundation for the bold move of being the Race Sustainability Principal Partner and for taking this sustainability message worldwide.