Royal welcome

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has given more than 50 cyclists a royal welcome at his palace, as they completed more than 1500km cycling in aid of Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) - the UK-based marine conservation charity.


Photography by David Churchill

Launched by BLUE for a second year running, the charity ride aims to raise quarter of a million pounds for ocean conservation, a cause close to the Prince’s heart. The cyclists were waved off from London ten days ago by actress, model and BLUE ambassador, Poppy Delevingne.

The money raised will help BLUE achieve its aim of protecting vast tracts of the world’s oceans. BLUE exists to combat overfishing and the destruction of biodiversity, arguably the largest problem facing the world’s oceans, by creating large-scale marine reserves and developing models of sustainable fishing. So far BLUE has helped to protect 4 million square kilometres of ocean.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, who is the Founding Patron of the Blue Marine Yacht Club, and who will greet the riders at the end of their challenge said: “Oceans are more than ever at the heart of our common future. The London to Monaco Cycle Ride is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness on the necessity to protect our fragile oceans.”

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Poppy Delevingne is an ambassador for BLUE and explained why she wanted to support the cyclists on their grueling challenge: “Our oceans and the amazing ecosystems they support are in danger,” she said.

“Overfishing and a lack of protection has thrown them into crisis. The sea is a passion for me personally – it’s a place of peace and relaxation but it also sustains so much life. The fact that it could be destroyed forever is unacceptable, but also avoidable if we put the right protection measures in place.

“We need to act now to conserve our oceans for future generations, which is why I am a supporter of BLUE and these brave cyclists as they set off on their very tough, but incredibly worthwhile challenge.”

This year, the ride aims to raise funds for even more projects, including the protection of waters around Ascension Island and the Maldives, as well as the Solent Oyster Restoration Project and Beyond Plastic Med, a project in collaboration with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation that targets plastic waste in the Mediterranean.

Clare Brook, CEO of BLUE said: “Last year funds raised by the London to Monaco cycle ride made a huge contribution to the protection of extraordinary marine environments around Ascension in the tropical Atlantic and the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily.

“This year the ride will be supporting even more projects and achieving even more. I am in complete awe of my colleagues and all the other riders who are going to such lengths to restore the oceans for future generations.”

The projects: 

Ascension Island is one of the UK’s 14 overseas territories, which contain over 94 percent of Britain’ s biodiversity. As part of the GB Oceans Coalition, BLUE secured the closure of over half of Ascension’s waters to fishing and has since brought about many benefits to the islanders. BLUE aims to protect 100 percent of these pristine waters and the amazing marine wildlife that inhabits them.

Five Ascension Islanders will be taking part in their very own cycle ride around the island mirroring the first day of London to Monaco. While the team in England will be meandering its way through the South Downs, the Ascension Islanders will be tackling the rocky, mountainous terrain of Ascension Island in the middle of the Atlantic.

Ascension Island is currently cut off to flights from the UK and this ride reflects the resourcefulness of Ascension’s inhabitants during a difficult time.

The Maldives contains three per cent of the world’s coral reefs, one of the most biodiverse, valuable and threatened marine ecosystems on the planet. Overfishing, pollution and coral bleaching have reduced overall reef health, making them less resilient to increasing climate change effects.

For the past 18 months, BLUE has been working closely with the Maldivian government to implement legislation for reef-based fisheries and to expand and strengthen marine protected areas throughout the country. Building on its success, funding from this year’s cycle ride would enable the team to increase BLUE’s impact across the country by building up its local team and implementing more projects.

BLUE aims to restore the once thriving native oyster to the Solent. Oysters act as filter feeders, cleaning the water and removing pollutants contributing to the overall health of the oceans. BLUE has made good progress, working alongside the University of Portsmouth and MDL Marinas to suspend thousands of oysters in cages in marinas across the south coast. In the coming year, BLUE will be adding a million oysters to wild sites.

Beyond Plastic Med is an initiative to confront the scale of plastic pollution and its impact on the Mediterranean. BeMed is working with eleven micro-initiatives in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Albania, Lebanon, Tunisia and Montenegro to raise awareness and action to combat plastic pollution on the coastline and in the sea.

Supporters Who Made the Challenge Possible:

The London to Monaco Bike Challenge has been made possible thanks to the support of a number of partners. The 2017 event has been organized in collaboration with Rapha Travel; and the kit sponsor for 2017 is Sunseeker International.

Phil Popham, Sunseeker’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to support Blue Marine Foundation’s 2017 London to Monaco Cycle Ride. The event aims to raise essential funds for four ocean conservation projects around the world with more to follow. We would like to encourage members of the Sunseeker family and our trusted partners within the industry to get involved and play an active role in helping to protect our seas for future generations.”

Additional sponsors include:

Electric Shadow – Sponsor of water bottles

Climpson & Sons – Sponsor of coffee accompanying the whole ride

AMELS – Sponsor of the caps

Imperial – Car wrap sponsor

The London to Monaco ride was established by Winch Design and launched last year by pop superstar Simon Le Bon, with riders and sponsors raising a phenomenal £280,000 for two ocean conservation projects. Winch Design has a long-standing relationship with BLUE and has supported the charity through smaller initiatives in the past.

The general public are welcome to head to Somerset House on Sunday 17 September at 7.15am to wave off the riders who will be leaving at 8am sharp.

Go online to donate to BLUE and find out more about its vital conservation work.

bluemarinefoundation.com/support-us/

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