PROTECT BLUE is the "sustainability conference that plays outside". No power point, no slide shows, no presentations. Instead we have surf, swim, hiking, paddle surf, open air workshops, hang out, play, learn and share. If you are passionate about ocean conservation, if you want to take action, if you have the will to learn, share your competencies, create a network… Protect Blue is made for you! This is the the "right place" where several skilful and passionate people share experiences, learn one from each other and create a strong concrete network, creating and developing new ideas and boosting already existing initiatives.
Everything started in July 2017, where in Noli (Italy), the 1st Protect Blue meeting took place thanks to Linzi Hawkin, founder of SUPKids. She participated in a similar networking event about surf, but it was organized inside! She was surprised about how a surf meeting could be organized indoor, so, she had the brilliant idea to create something similar related to the world of paddle-surf but, this time, outdoor! Protect Blue is not a conference. It’s a meeting point. During the Noli Sup Race, organzed by Franz Orsi and supported by Starboard, more or less twenty Ocean Advocates have been together for four days. And yes, if you are wondering… I was there too, and I have to thanks Franz for the invitation.
I have to admit that I was really excited because I could meet people and leaders of incredible organizations that I was following on social networks. Just to name same: Carlos from Brasil and Carolyne from UK with their SUP board made of recycled plastic bottles, Chris Bertish who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a paddle-surf, Svein Rasmussen founder of Starboard, Mike Stewart of Sustainable Surf, Shilpika Gautam, Alan Laubsch, Wym Pyl, Mei Li and many more.
Photo by Georgia Schofield
Some month after Noli, a second meeting took place, this time, in Bermuda. Unfortunately, I couldn’t join it but after that, Linzi called me and she asked me “why don’t we organize the 3rd meeting in South Italy?” I was really stoked, and I couldn’t believe it! It has been a great opportunity for me to show to the world how amazing our nature is and how much we need a great support to preserve this hot spot of biodiversity.
Three days outside. Or at least, this was the plan. Unfortunately, weather conditions haven’t been so kind with us, and we couldn't manage to realize our dolphin watching activity but, being outside, means to accept what Mother Nature prepare for you and you need to enjoy everything. This has been our spirit and after some outdoor workshops and paddling in Taranto, the big surprise: a great surf and sup wave session thanks to some really good waves in Lido Gandoli Bay with our friends of Kite Surf Taranto and thank to my special friend and SUP trainer Mario Tagarelli. Good wine and good food were boosting the creation of bonds between people and more activities took place, like the amazing hiking to reach Rotondella (little town in Basilicata), while discovering the feeling of "awe" thanks to “Living Alive”, organization from UK, and the final event where the Protect Blue crew met the local community of paddle-surfers and where I did my workshop to let people discover what’s the meaning of BLUE MIND.
In conclusion: Protect Blue is the perfect place, the right place for me to spread out my mission and, at the same time, get inspired. Join the crew!
Drone footage by James Brennan
Photo by Nicla Marzano