Argentine sailor Yago Lange fulfilled his foiling dream of foiling in front of the Perito Moreno Glacier to raise awareness of climate change.
Yago Lange, a 49er sailor and member of the World Sailing’s Sustainability Commission became the first person in history to foil in front of this glacier. As an athlete, Lange has won the silver medal in the Panamerican Games of Lima 2019 and was seventh with his brother Klaus in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Located within the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, in the Patagonia region, this big ice glacier covers 250 square kilometres and continues growing. As water is part of his life, the sailor dreamed of foiling in the icy waters of Lago Argentino to raise awareness about the conservation of glaciers as well as their value of water.
“Argentina is a very powerful country in terms of natural resources, and we have to take care of it. I think we do not realise how important land, air and water are for our lives. We need them to be healthy, we need marine ecosystems cared for, oceans free of plastics and we need the glaciers to be maintained.” -Yago Lange
Glaciers are made from fresh water, and when they melt it alters the ocean. Not only by contributing directly to global sea water level rise, but also pushing down the heavier salt water, changing the THC (Thermo Haline Circulation), or in other words, currents in the ocean.
Even though ice in glaciers took centuries to develop, this does not mean they melt equally slow. Once a glacial starts to break down, as it interacts with the sea water, it can cause incredibly fast melting.
With the melting of ice, it is estimated that in the 21st century, combined with the thermal expansion of ocean water, will cause an average increase of sea level of about a metre. This is an average, affecting some places more than others. This climate change impact is a critical issue in many parts of the planet, negatively affecting billions of people in India, China and Bangladesh as well as along the Gulf of Mexico and Northwest of the USA.
“My desire as an athlete is to take care of the place that I love so much and that gives me so much and to share the message that it is not just for me, but it is for everyone. Those of us who love the water must protect it.” -Yago Lange
Although the glacier in Lake Argentino is continuing to grow, every two to four years it collapses into the water, a phenomenon known as rupture. The last event was in March 2018, and it has been recorded in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2016. This is a clear sign that the climate is changing.
Before jumping into the water, Yago and his companion and photographer, Marko Magister, spent several days touring the walkways of Los Glaciares National Park to observe the glacier from land in order to plan the navigation in detail. Finally on January 15th, he wrapped himself in a thick neoprene suit to protect him from the cold and faced the immensity of the Perito Moreno with his board and wing foil sail.
He claims to be surprised when seeing the glacier, as it is huge. However, as he foiled across the water he felt the energy and responsibility of telling this story to help people connect with water and glaciers and be aware of how much they mean to us.
This discipline combines elements of surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. This adventure was carried out in collaboration with the National Park and the support of Parley, an NGO that works for the protection of oceans and for which he is a world ambassador.
Now, the sailor has moved away from competition and is focused on creating environmental public awareness. Yago is planning on travelling to more protected areas throughout the year to understand the impact of climate change and share his experience with the community.
Images from Marko Magister's Instagram profile