French sailor Thomas Coville holds the solo around-the-world sailing record. This Sunday, he’ll set off across the Atlantic in The Bridge, a race from Saint-Nazaire, France, to New York. In addition to being a world-class sailor, Coville is committed to preserving our oceans, and serves as a Race for Water Ambassador. We recently caught up with him between expeditions.
Race for Water: What made you decide to become a Race for Water Foundation Ambassador?
Thomas Coville: My role as an Ambassador is to show people that I believe in this bold, worldwide initiative; even if some people still think that change can’t happen. It can—when people take on a project that’s as ambitious as Race for Water’s. Change can happen by raising awareness through action, or in concrete ways, by implementing cutting-edge technologies and techniques. I’m excited about contributing my energy to the Foundation’s work. I truly hope that my energy, and my faith in this project—which is incredible from the technical point of view, but which also includes ideas, hopes, and ambitions—will help to change the world. Hopefully, it will even change our mindset about energy, our relationship with other people, and perhaps have a positive effect on conflicts in the world.
R4W: What does the sea represent for you?
TC: In the end, the sea is much more than “just” the sea; it’s more than a playground to me. The oceans have no borders; they allow us to have an impact on people everywhere, from every kind of background, whether or not they like to sail. Some people might call Race for Water’s plans crazy; they’re coming to life only because of people who love to rise to a so-called “impossible” challenge. That’s why bold thinkers can change the world. Race for Water and its odyssey of hope are living proof of that message.
R4W: What’s your hope for the future of the oceans?
TC: I’m hoping to take away some of the stress and pessimism that most people feel about ecology and the environment in general. Right now, the result of that is that the general public, and the media, and businesses have a hard time supporting environmental preservation. I’m already looking past that, where the issue of ocean degradation gives us the opportunity to change—because we don’t have a choice. It’s an opportunity that we have to capitalize on, right now.
Thomas Coville (second from left), with Marco Simeoni, Jean-Marc Normant, and Franck David. “I love this incredible trio: Marco, Franck, and Jean-Marc. I’m inspired and motivated by their work and their ideas.”