We were sitting in a meeting room at the gorgeous Beau Rivage Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland, waiting for the Breguet/Race for Water press conference to start, when I noticed a wind-weathered gentleman with a big smile enter. I realized that I knew this man — I had attended a press conference next to Lake Geneva five years before, where he spoke passionately about the need to make an impact on the oceans and the dangers facing them by plastic.

It was Marco Simeoni, the founder and president of Race for Water, and now that his foundation is working with Breguet, he is on the way to making his dream come true.

I went up to him and asked him why he wasn’t on his state-of-the-art boat, the only vessel in the world that is powered by wind, sun and seawater.

He smiled ruefully and replied, “I wish I was, but someone has to spread the word, and being the president of Race for Water, I am the best person to do it.”

Marco Simeoni, the Founder and President of Race for Water (Image: Julien Girardot)
Marco Simeoni, the Founder and President of Race for Water (Image: Julien Girardot)

Breguet joined Race for Water in March of this year as the main sponsor of its five-year program, “Odyssey 2017-2021.” Breguet committed to support Race for Water’s pioneering vessel sailing the seas around the world and to contribute to raising awareness among the decision-makers and general public, as well as educating younger generations.

The Race for Water boat, an impressive vessel loaded with cutting-edge technologies, is traveling the world demonstrating clean energy and educating people about the plight of the world’s oceans.

The Race for Water boat (Image: Julien Girardot)
The Race for Water boat (Image: Julien Girardot)
The Race for Water boat (Image: Julien Girardot)

“We have three missions on the Odyssey: learn, share and act,” explains Simeoni, a passionate sailor himself. “The reality is that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Today, 25% of fish have plastics in their stomach, and 10% of the plastic manufactured ends up in the ocean. The fight is on land, to raise awareness and stop the plastics from reaching the water. Combined action is essential in preventing plastic waste from reaching the waterways and the oceans through the development of sustainable social models and business models that inspire its collection. Together with Montres Breguet, we are aiming at getting closer to making our dream of a better world come true.”

Race for Water has come up with a technology capable of transforming end-of-life plastics into energy, either gas or electricity, according to Simeoni. The idea is that the production and sale of this energy will allow the community to pay street collectors and encourage them to pick up the plastics.

Already, Race for Water has signed draft agreements with the local authorities on Rapa Nui (formerly known as Easter Island), where today’s daily plastic pollution has a very serious impact, as well as the operator managing the electricity production and distribution. These key agreements mean that a process has been set in motion to implement the high-temperature pyrolysis technology, called “Biogreen 300,” thus enabling the island’s plastics and household waste to be converted into energy with the ultimate aim of providing a sustainable and effective solution by 2020.

Why Breguet?

Abraham-Louis Breguet was given the title of chronometer maker to the French Royal Navy, and the brand has had a connection to the sea ever since. Marc A. Hayek, president of Breguet, is an avid diver and his concern for the world’s oceans is well known.

So, partnering with Race for Water makes perfect sense. The brand has a complete Marine Collection, of which one watch is dedicated to Race for Water, worn by the crew members of the Odyssey. Speculation is that this model, the Breguet 5517 “Race for Water” Special Edition, might one day be sold to the public in order to raise money and awareness for Race for Water.

Breguet 5517 “Race for Water” Special Edition
Breguet 5517 “Race for Water” Special Edition

So far, the Odyssey has visited nine countries, welcomed aboard over 3,200 children and met over 8,500 official guests. Just in 2018, the boat has been to Panama, Peru, Chile, Robinson Crusoe Island, Rapa Nui and just recently arrived in the Tonga Islands.

“I am very proud to have such a great brand as Breguet as the Race for Water title sponsor,” Simeoni says.

Keep watching this space for updates as Race Odyssey 2017 – 2021 continues around the world.