Contaminants Mediterranean Expedition 2020

OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020, to be carried out under sail without any CO2 emissions or waste with the maxi-catamaran (33.50 m) formerly CLUB MED - the largest oceanic racing catamaran in the world 

From Monaco to Monaco from Thursday 15 October to Thursday 29 October 2020

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Samples collected handed over to Ifremer

La Seyne-sur-Mer, Wednesday 28 October - At around 11:00 this morning Yvan Griboval, Expedition Director and Linn Sekund, the marine biologist on board the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran and Coordinator for the Fabienne Gaillard Scientific Committee of the OceanoScientific associations, handed over to Vincent Rigaud, Director of the Centre Méditerranée for the Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (Ifremer), the eight precious samples collected along the course of some 1,500 nautical miles from Monaco to the mouth of the Tiber (Italy), then to Porto Cervo (Sardinia), Barcelona (Spain) and La Seyne-sur-Mer. Representatives of AMAALA, the main partner for the OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020, Nick Naples (AMAALA Chief Executive Officer) and Brendan Jack (AMAALA Chief Sustainability Officer), travelled from Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) for the occasion. They were proud to highlight that Ocean conservation, whether in the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, is part of the same global effort on behalf of generations to come. 

Samples handed over to Ifremer in front the  AMAALA EXPLORER.  From left to right

Yvan Gribvoval (OceanoScientific), Vincent Rigaud (Ifremer), Linn Sekund (OceanoScientific ), Brendan Jack (AMAALA). 

Photo OceanoScientific 

Vincent Rigaud was delighted by the private initiative to take part in sea studies, in particular the observation of the impact of humankind on the Ocean, which covers more than 70% of Planet's surface: "Ifremer for many years has encouraged every initiative like that of the OceanoScientific Programme which we have been supporting for the past fourteen years. In 2006, Yvan Griboval was an innovator and a pioneer in imagining how ocean racing yachts could be of service to oceanography. Today participatory science is a developing trend. For instance, several of the yachts taking part in the forthcoming Vendée Globe which starts next week will be taking with them around the World hardware derived from the OceanoScientific System developed by Yvan Griboval with our teams. It important for us to encourage such joint action in favour of a better understanding of the Ocean. It will allow us, we hope, to conserve its incredible resources for humankind. Precisely because we still know so little about those resources…"


"The AMAALA project has a relatively simple blueprint," explained Nick Naples (AMAALA CEO): "Our purpose is to develop a destination integrating arts, wellness and the purity of the Red Sea.  To do so, the first step consists not only in conserving the nature that currently exists on land and in the sea, but enhancing that for the future, so that what we build today improves over time.  Wellness for people and for the planet".


Brendan Jack (AMAALA Chief Sustainability Officer) added: "On the AMAALA site in the Red Sea we have one of the finest remaining coral reefs in the World. However, as with all of the world’s reefs, it too faces the same climate change and human activity based threats, such as sea temperature rise, ocean acidification, and pollution".


"At AMAALA, we are working closely with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), an internationally renown Saudi academic research institute, and with international experts and institutions, such as the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (CSM). With a background of 60 years of observation and study of coral species, I believe the researchers at the CSM, headed by Professor Denis Allemand, can very ably assist us in our mission to conserve and enhance our coral reefs”.  


For these reasons, the importance of the scientific research being carried out by the OceanoScientific team during this Expedition, and the equally important analysis of the collected sample data by Ifremer, cannot be emphasised enough.  Our Oceans – the Med and the Red – are connected.  We share common issues and we will share common solutions”.


"We succeeded in taking the nine samples scheduled," confirmed Linn Sekund. "Now the Ifremer teams are going to analyse the samples. We should have a precise idea of what they contain by the end of the coming winter. Then we shall need to compare them with other observations carried out on the surface in order to draw any conclusions. That will be a longer job."


"Of course, I am slightly disappointed that we were unable to carry out 100% of the mission I had planned,"explained Yvan Griboval on the dock of La Seyne-sur-Mer before setting out to sea again at the helm of the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran. "We were unable to install the passive sensors on the beacons in the mouths of the three main rivers in the Mediterranean, the Tiber (Italy), the Ebro (Spain) and the Rhone (France). I was too ambitious in imagining that it would be possible at this time of the year when the sea is heavy. But we had to try in order to test the feasibility of the project. We have learnt a great deal and so I shall be coming back in the spring or the start of the summer in 2021 in order to specifically carry out that oceanographic assignment".


As soon as the small ceremony was over, attended by local elected representatives and in particular that of Nathalie Bicais, the Mayoress of La Seyne-sur-Mer, the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran set sail bound for Monaco. The yacht is scheduled to arrive at the Marina of the Yacht Club de Monaco on Thursday 29 October at 11:00. Sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco will be on the pontoon of honour to hand over the moorings to Yvan Griboval, in the presence of a number of VIPs, including Olivier Archambeau, President of the Société des Explorateurs Français of which Yvan Griboval is a member, as well as the Spanish two-time Olympic Champion Theresa Zabell, President of the Fundación Ecomar.


- Yvan Griboval (Expedition Director / France)

Maciej Piejko (Boat Captain / Watch Captain / Poland)

Pascal Brouin (Watch Captain / France)

Maxime Dreno (Second in command to Yvan Griboval / Helmsman / France)

Frédéric Dahirel (Second in command to Maciej Piejko / Helmsman / France)

- Linn Sekund (Scientist / Sweden)

Xavier Ciurana Llorens (Crewmate / Spain)

Manu Valadés Escobar (On Board Reporter / Spain)

Marc Archer (AMAALA Director of sports / New Zealand)

Monday 26 October 2020

Arrival at La Seyne-sur-Mer / Port of Toulon (France)

La Seyne-sur-Mer, Monday 26 October- The AMAALA EXPLORER ex-CLUB MED maxi-catamaran was welcomed in the early morning on Saturday 24 October, more than three days in advance, by the teams of the Ports of Toulon Provence Méditerranée in the large dock of La Seyne-sur-Mer where Yves Le Blévec's ACTUAL LEADER ex-SODEBO maxi-trimaran is currently stationed, along with the replica of the ATLANTIC schooner on which the American skipper Charlie Barr (1864 - 1911), triple winner of the America's Cup, in 1905 set the record for crossing the Atlantic in barely twelve days - a record broken by Eric Tabarly in 1980. So now three sailboats that have marked the history of Yachting are currently moored in this highly sheltered port in the Var region. 

The AMAALA EXPLORER with her 300sqm Code 0 Yankee specially realized for the Expedition.

Photo OceanoScientific 

"The reason for our advance is simple," explained Yvan Griboval as he set foot on land on Saturday morning. "Christian Dumard, our router, made us leave Barcelona quickly on Friday morning because heavy weather was approaching in the Gulf of Lion. The crossing would have been dangerous, because our rig is twenty years old and we are not the same crew that Grant Dalton (New Zealand) and Franck Proffit (France), co-skippers of CLUB MED had when they won The Race 2000! We are sparing our rig. The OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020 is an oceanographic sailing campaign without any CO2 emissions. It is neither a competition, nor an attempt to break a record. So we are sailing cautiously."  


"We have successfully taken samples 7 and 8," Linn Sekund, Team OceanoScientific's marine biologist announced. "On the other hand, I had scheduled a 9thsample in the middle of the Gulf of Lion. But the wind and sea conditions, as well as being in the dark of the night, did not allow us to take the ninth sample."


If the port call at La Seyne-sur-Mer / Toulon is mainly due to the presence of the Ifremer Méditerranée center, a major scientific partner of this OceanoScientific Expedition, it is also to highlight the work carried out for many years by the Toulon Provence Mediterranean Metropolitan Authority (TPM) and its eight ports, including that of La Seyne - Brégaillon where the AMAALA EXPLORER is moored.


Indeed, whether on a daily basis or in carrying out major maritime works, TPM aims to reduce the impact of port activities on the Environment. All of its ports have committed, since 2009, to a sustainable development process and since 2011 to the “Ports Propres” certification process. By engaging in such initiatives, TPM wants to reconcile economic and tourist uses with the preservation of the marine environment and landscapes.


Over the next few hours, the crew of the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran will prepare the last trip of this OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020from La Seyne-sur-Mer to the Marina of the Yacht Club de Monaco, where the legendary sailboat is due to arrive on Thursday 29 October at 11:00, an appointment having been made with the Sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco who will hand over the moorings to Yvan Griboval - the opposite of what happened on Thursday 15 October around 16:00, when the AMAALA EXPLORER set sail for Porto Cervo at the invitation of the One Ocean Foundation and the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.


Before that, on Wednesday 28 October at 11:00 a.m., in the large dock of La Seyne-sur-Mer - Brégaillon, Yvan Griboval and Linn Sekund will hand over the precious samples to Vincent Rigaud, Director of the Ifremer Méditerranée center and more particularly to Christophe Brach-Papa and Jean-Louis Gonzales, the scientists who are overseeing this novel oceanographic sailing campaign, carried out thanks to the invaluable support of AMAALA and Biologique Recherche.




- Yvan Griboval (Expedition Director / France)

Maciej Piejko (Boat Captain / Watch Captain / Poland)

Pascal Brouin (Watch Captain / France)

Maxime Dreno (Second in command to Yvan Griboval / Helmsman / France)

Frédéric Dahirel (Second in command to Maciej Piejko / Helmsman / France)

- Linn Sekund (Scientist / Sweden)

Xavier Ciurana Llorens (Crewmate / Spain)

Manu Valadés Escobar (On Board Reporter / Spain)

Marc Archer (AMAALA Director of sports / New Zealand)

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Arrival in Barcelona (Spain)

Barcelona, Wednesday 21 October - Tuesday 20 October at around 20:15 Yvan Griboval cast the mooring of the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran to Theresa Zabell, President of the Fundación Ecomar, who was waiting for the crew on the quay of the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB) where the OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020 stopped for a series of conferences and workshops, especially with schoolchildren, on the theme of Ocean preservation.

Marc Archer (AMAALA) and Linn Sekund (OceanoScientific) prepare the bottle which will collect the surface seawater samples. Photo OceanoScientific

For twenty-one years, Theresa Zabell, the most successful woman in Olympic sailing with two successive gold medals in the 470 category, but also five titles as World champion in the discipline, then as a member of the European Parliament, as well as vice-chair of the Spanish Olympic Committee, has been developing the Fundación Ecomar. The Foundation incites young people to practice sailing and the Spanish public in general to help preserve the Ocean, in particular by reducing sources of plastic pollution. It is one of the oldest NGOs in Europe in this capacity.


For its part, the FNOB gets public and private partners to take action in order to help Spanish offshore sailors to practice ocean racing while respecting the environment, by favouring any initiative that allows their sailing schedules to provide oceanographers with valuable information, in the wake of the OceanoScientific Programme that was conceived in 2006 by Yvan Griboval and whose first prototype (the OSC System) was stated to be operational just eleven years ago, on 14 October 2019 in Caen (France). The FNOB is also an organiser of international events, such as the Barcelona World Race sailing around the world double-handed non-stop on IMOCA 60 monohulls, those of the Vendée Globe.


"The Mediterranean continues to be so different," Yvan Griboval explained to Theresa Zabell on Tuesday evening. "We sailed from Porto Cervo under engine power and didn't find the wind until twenty-one hours later. As our router, Christian Dumard, had told us, the southerly wind gradually started to blow and the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran glided smoothly but at high speed with a crosswind heading for Catalonia. It would be difficult to have better conditions!"


"It was ideal for making several stops and taking seawater samples," reported Linn Sekund, Marine Biologist for Team OceanoScientific. "Each time, we also collect the Temperature and Salinity data, exactly at the same depth of about two meters where the seawater samples are taken. The purpose of these samples is to determine the presence and density of organic contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and tributyltins (TBT). They have been released into Nature as a result of human urban, agricultural and industrial activities. These compounds have a high capacity for bio-accumulation and a tendency to bio-magnify in the food chain."


"Once the phytoplankton and the plankton have been poisoned, the entire food chain is affected and we find these poisons on our dishes, especially when tasting predators that live for several decades such as tuna or salmon, which have been poisoned in this way all their lives," explained the young Swedish scientist who is also coordinator of the Fabienne Gaillard Scientific Committee of the OceanoScientific associations (France & Monaco).


Once these two days of conferences and workshops organised by Theresa Zabell and Carlos Clastre are over, the crew of the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran will have to play hide and seek with, on the one hand a strong gale of joint Tramontana and Mistral winds and, on the other hand, with one of those unpleasant easterly blows which disrupts the peaceful life of the Port of Monaco and more particularly that of the Marina of the Yacht Club de Monaco where this legendary sailboat is due to arrive on Thursday, 29 October at 11:00, marking the end of this short OceanoScientific Expedition.


"As often, we shall rely on the detailed analyses of Christian Dumard to know when to leave port for our next destination, La Seyne-sur-Mer in this case," said Yvan Griboval. "The only downside is that while the weather forecasts, especially those of our partner Météo-France, are reliable in the English Channel and the Atlantic, as well as on the high seas, in the Mediterranean, local phenomena disrupt the come and go of depressions and highs to complicate the life of seafarers. But we have a rig that has seen worse and our crew is in a position to cope with these whims of the Big Blue."

Linn Sekund positions herself on the aft apron of one of the hulls of the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran to collect the precious samples. Photo OceanoScientific


- Yvan Griboval (Expedition Director / France)

Maciej Piejko (Boat Captain / Watch Captain / Poland)

Pascal Brouin (Watch Captain / France)

Maxime Dreno (Second in command to Yvan Griboval / Helmsman / France)

Frédéric Dahirel (Second in command to Maciej Piejko / Helmsman / France)

Linn Sekund (Scientist / Sweden)

Xavier Ciurana Llorens (Crewmate / Spain)

Marc Archer (AMAALA Director of sports / New Zealand) 

Monday 19 October 2020

From Porto Cervo to Barcelone

Porto Cervo, Monday 19 October - After a short port call in Porto Cervo (Sardinia / Italy) in the superb marina of Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, founder of the One Ocean Foundation, at the end of the first leg of the OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020, the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran set sail this morning at 07:00 for Barcelona. The arrival is scheduled for the end of the day on Tuesday, 20 October or Wednesday morning at the quay of the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona(FNOB) where Theresa Zabell, President of the Fundación Ecomar, will be waiting.

The  AMAALA EXPLORER has had good sailing conditions after having passed the North End of Corsica. Photo : OceanoScientific

The port call will be supervised by Theresa Zabell, as President-Founder of the Fundación Ecomar, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary last year. The foundation, which invites young people to practice sailing and the Spanish public to help preserve the Ocean, in particular by reducing sources of plastic pollution, is one of the oldest in Europe in this respect.


FNOB and the Fundación Ecomar have organized an agenda filled with conferences and activities to make the most of the port call for a few days by the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran. The Covid-19 pandemic risks disrupting the established schedule, because the bars and restaurants and many shops have been closed in Catalonia since last Friday. The health authorities are stepping up the procedures to combat the appalling virus which is also affecting Italy, a tourist destination currently deserted despite the exceptional weather conditions this season.


"This first leg has left us with mixed feelings", explained Yvan Griboval on Sunday morning. “As far as the sailing is concerned, there were no surprises; the Mediterranean is still just as versatile. We went through periods with breezes of up to 20-23 knots and areas of flat calm in which we had no other means of moving on than to start the engines of the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran. It's frustrating. We sailed under a bright sun but also under heavy thunderstorms of rain and lightning criss-crossing the sea between Corsica and the Island of Elba. It looked more like the Doldrums than the Mediterranean".


"The first samples were taken en route and went perfectly," reported Linn Sekund, Marine Biologist for Team OceanoScientific. "On the other hand, the sea was much too heavy at the mouth of the Tiber when we got there around midnight on Friday(16 October) to install the passive sensors on the beacon identified with our Italian colleagues".


"I tried to spot it using our inflatable boat with Xavier, crewmate of Maciej Piejko, the Boat Captain of the AMAALA EXPLORER," confided Yvan Griboval, "because I didn't want to give up without trying. I admit that the attempt was risky, even dangerous, and it could have ended badly for Xavier or myself. So we didn't achieve what mattered to me most in this location. The setback should only be temporary, however. To benefit from good sea conditions at the mouths of rivers, you need more time than a short port call, what's more in the middle of the night.


We have therefore decided, on the one hand, to postpone the installation of the three passive sensors at the mouths of the Tiber (Italy), the Ebro (Spain) and the Rhône (France) and organize it in the spring when the sea conditions are better. We'll get there by inflatable boat, located a few hundred meters away or even a nautical mile from the shore. We'll do it using the AMAALA EXPLORER's tender next April or May.


In addition, we are going to increase the collection of samples on the route of the OceanoScientific Expedition and we are considering taking additional samples off Barcelona during our next port call," continued Yvan Griboval.


On the occasion of this port call in Porto Cervo, one of Sardinia's loveliest locations, a conference organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda was attended by the crews taking part in the Audi Sailing Champions League competition, with entries by some thirty crews from more thirteen countries. During this conference, Andrea de Lucia head of the CNR Center Research at Oristano presented the research project on micro-plastics. Then, Cécile d'Estais, General Delegate of the OceanoScientific associations (France & Monaco), pointed out the importance of organic contaminants in the Ocean and their impact on not only human health, but also on Corals. An important issue raised by AMAALA, main partner of the OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020, as they are based on one of the world’s last, large, healthy coral reef system and within a spectacular undeveloped natural coastal zone.


Yvan Griboval used the opportunity to sign the ethical code "Charta Smeralda" of the One Ocean Foundation, which consists in making ten formal commitments to sustainably preserve the Ocean. Commitments that both Yvan Griboval and his partners AMAALA and Biologique Recherche equally respect.


- Yvan Griboval (Expedition Director / France)

Maciej Piejko (Boat Captain / Watch Captain / Poland)

Pascal Brouin (Watch Captain / France)

Maxime Dreno  (Second in command to Yvan Griboval / Helmsman / France)

Frédéric Dahirel (Second in command to Maciej Piejko / Helmsman / France)

Linn Sekund (Scientist / Sweden)

Xavier Ciurana Llorens (Crewmate / Spain)

Marc Archer (AMAALA Director of sports / New Zealand). 

Thursday 15 October 2020

From Monaco to Porto Cervo by the Tiber (Rome)

Monaco, Thursday 15 October - Around 15:00 today in the Marina of the Yacht Club de Monaco, the Sovereign Prince, Albert II of Monaco took over from the hands of navigator - explorer Yvan Griboval the moorings of the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran until his return to the Y.C.M. pontoon of honour on 29 October at 11:00 a.m.


Thus began the OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020 which set sail for the mouth of the Tiber for the first large-scale scientific operations, after contaminants have been collected by Yvan Griboval and by Linn Sekund, the on-board researcher of the Team OceanoScientific, on route to Italy. 

© Mesi - Yacht Club de Monaco

After leaving Monaco and meeting up with TUIGA (1909), the traditional yacht of the Yacht Club de Monaco, between the Principality and Ventimiglia (Italy) and having made a large detour via the mouth of the Tiber (near Fiumicino airport), the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran will make a port call on Saturday, 17 October at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo, where a joint conference is scheduled with the One Ocean Foundation on the theme of their own campaign to collect micro-plastics all around Sardinia and on that of the OceanoScientific Mediterranean Contaminants Expedition 2020.


The conference will be held in the presence of the crews competing in the Audi Sailing Champions Leagueinvolving some thirty teams from more than fifteen countries. It will provide an opportunity to make this population of international regatta racers aware of the need to preserve the Ocean by reducing the use of polluting materials, first and foremost plastics of all kinds.   


Before the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran left, for the Sovereign Prince and a hundred children aged 8-12 from Monegasque schools (the number was limited for health restrictions, which are very much respected in Monaco), photographer Greg Lecoeur presented the exhibition of his images of plankton taken at night offshore – and not under a microscope in the laboratory – staged by Yvan Griboval in a plankton fresco 13 meters long and two meters high, on the theme of LOVE THE OCEAN® Exhibition - Greg Lecoeur. The open-access exhibition is offered with the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and will be held on the dock of the Yacht Club until Sunday 1 November.


"While almost everyone has realized that plastic pollution is an appalling scourge for the Ocean, I want to show just how remarkable plankton are, as well as being the first to be poisoned in their natural environment,"says Yvan Griboval.

"Providing Greg Lecoeur with an occasion to show Monaco his incredible talent as an underwater photographer of the infinitely small was therefore an obvious choice. These tiny beings a few centimetres long are at the bottom rung of the food chain. Once poisoned, they transmit the contaminants to beings larger than themselves. And all of the poison that we human beings make and dump by thousands of tons into the sea ends up on our plates. Respecting plankton means saving future generations",concluded Yvan Griboval before taking the helm of the AMAALA EXPLORER maxi-catamaran to leave Monaco and head for Italy.



- Yvan Griboval (Expedition Director / Watch leader / France)

- Guillermo Altadill (Winner of The Race 2000 on board CLUB MED now OCEAN PEARL     and AMAALA EXPLORER today / Watch leader / Spain)

- Maciej Piejko (Boat Captain / Poland)

- Maxime Dreno (Second in command to Yvan Griboval / Helmsman / France)

- Frédéric Dahirel (Second in command to Maciej Piejko / Helmsman / France)

- Linn Sekund (Scientist / Sweden)

- Quentin Sixdeniers (On Board Reporter - OBR / France)

- Xavier Ciurana Llorens (Crewmate / Spain)

- Marc Archer (AMAALA guest -  Director of sports / New Zealand). 

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Press Conference

This unprecedented oceanographic campaign is scientifically orchestred by

the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer).


The objective of this OceanoScientific Expedition is to study at the same time

the nature and density of chemical compounds: metallic and organic

that affect the marine environment at the mouths of rivers:

Tiber (Italy), Ebro (Spain) and Rhône (France)

as well as in nine points of this triangle of 1,500 nautical miles 2,800 km)

in the western Mediterranean

The maxi-catamaran AMAALA EXPLORER (OCEAN PEARLex-CLUB MED)  110 feet (33.50 m),

 is the unique winner of the only two multihull races organised anywhere in the world:

The Race 2000 - and the Oryx Quest 2005