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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Riding The Current, Powered By Inspiration, Action And Solar

10-time Olympic medalist Gary Hall Jr. is a huge fan and a passionate proponent of Billy Dutton.

"Billy is accomplished in everything he does - and he does a lot. His recent jaunt is the Ride The Current project. Together with Mark Ward, it is an eco-friendly 354-mile (570km) surfing safari with a solar-powered Duffy that will generate awareness of the importance of keeping our open water and oceans free of pollutants and plastics. It’s about clean energy, clean oceans and clean fun. While this is a surfing safari, open water swimmers are also the front line of society’s contact with the ocean. Among open water swimmers, this might strike a chord."

Lexie Kelly interviews Dutton on the shores of Huntington Beach:

Kelly: Can you describe Ride The Current?
Dutton: The tour will include several stops along the California coast, starting in Santa Barbara and ending in Mexico. The trip is sponsored by Duffy, the electric boat company, a stand up paddle board and surfboard company, and Platinum Performance. Several high-profile conservationists will lecture in the port stops along the way. The trip will be documented for a film as well.

Kelly: What will you be looking for in the Pacific Ocean?
Dutton: Beside waves to surf and avoiding the kelp that the would wreak havoc on the prop on the Duffy, we will be looking for floating trash. That means plastic. We will be pulling a trawl that was provided to us by the Algalita Marine Research Institute that captures floating debris and then return the samples to their lab for cataloging. In addition, we will be collecting water samples for Heal the Bay at 16 locations they have been watching as well.

Kelly: How far out will you take the Duffy from shore?
Dutton: For the most part, we will be following the coast line anywhere from ¼ to a mile off, but on our second leg we hope, weather permitting, we hope to make it from Ventura Harbor to the Channel Islands and back to Oxnard.

Kelly: How will you compare the condition of the ocean, compared with before? That is, because this is your first expedition, will you establish a baseline during this trip?
Dutton: This is a first for this kind of expedition but Mark and I are very familiar with the southern California coastline. I moved to Newport Beach when I was 5 and have spent countless hours on the water in either a boat, a surfboard or just a swimming suit.

Kelly: What are your credentials as a researcher or scientist or enthusiast? Have you done research before for other marine environmental organizations either as a professional or volunteer?
Dutton: Mark and I were trained to take water samples from the Agalita Marine Research institute as well as water samples by Heal the Bay, but the truth is, we are just two regular guys on the street that want to know more about what’s going on in our ocean. The real basic science in understanding the issue can be done by anyone. Simply go to a beach, marina, or anywhere for that matter. Start picking up the trash on the ground or water and look at what you find. The plastic you find is not biodegradable but will break down over time into smaller pieces. Fish, birds and marine mammals mistake those particles for food and consume them.

Kelly: Are there any researchers, organizations or scientists who are assisting you in planning or implementation?
Dutton: Yes, Marcus Eriksen at the 5 Gyres has been both a mentor and an inspiration. He will be speaking at out event when we land port in Marina del Rey on October 10th. He and his wife Anna are amazing speakers on the subject of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Kelly: How will the surfing community help you?
Dutton: SurfRider Foundation is fully supporting us and this is officially RAPtober (Rise Against Plastics).

Kelly: How can the open water swimming community help you?
Dutton: Come to our event October 10th and bring your friends. It’s all about awareness and talking about changing our habits as individuals and as businesses.

Kelly: Do you need donors? How much are you looking to raise?
Dutton: No, we are not asking for money, just involvement.

Kelly: If you are promoting clean energy, why do you not try a carbon-neutral option like using an outrigger canoe or traveling the entire distance with a stand up paddle board?
Dutton: There are some wonderful people doing that right now and that is way cool. We are trying to focus on renewable energy and this seemed like a great way to do it.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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