Tara Expeditions is a French non-profit organization active since 2003 in favor of the environment. A legendary boat built for extreme conditions, Tara is the platform for high-level scientific research missions.
Initiated by agnes b and Etienne Bourgois, Tara Expeditions developed from their passion for the sea, and their humanistic, engaged vision.
Tara’s expeditions study two major scientific themes: the world’s oceans and climate change. In collaboration with scientific institutes, the expeditions contribute concrete results on these topics.
“What unites us is our concern for others”
You could say Agnès Troublé and her son Etienne Bourgois are the mainstays of the polar schooner Tara. Not surprisingly, they are both focused on the future and advance in life at full sail. Here’s what they have to say.
The Tara is above all the tale of a family, of a mother and son with a shared love for the ocean, the planet, people and nature. « The Tara story is a poignant tale », says Agnès Troublé, founder and inspiration for the agnès b. brand. « The ship began her days as the Antarctica. She was built by Jean-Louis Étienne and the naval architects Luc Bouvet and Olivier Petit. Later she became the Seamaster under Sir Peter Blake who sadly died aboard. Further down the line Sir Peter’s wife, Lady Blake, showed great interest in my son Étienne’s dream of conducting polar and scientific expeditions… » And the rest is history. « In 2003 Étienne and I decided to buy the boat to carry out environmental work. My contribution is the agnès b. endowment fund which co-finances, alongside other vital partners, the Tara and her expeditions. » Reflecting on the future, the big-hearted star and famous fashion designer adds: « The Tara’s ten-year story speaks for itself and in no way do I want it to stop. »
As for Étienne Bourgois, managing director of the agnès b. group since 1986, he still finds the time to manage the polar schooner’s expeditions in addition to raising his seven children, even though he now rarely goes aboard the Tara himself. « Ten years ago, conducting scientific research with this boat was my driving force, »
he explains. « Because the truth is we know nothing of the oceans, or far too little, even though our lives depend on them. However I couldn’t have imagined back then that our expeditions would take on such magnitude, develop to such an extent. While managing a company like agnès b., which employs 2,000 people, requires me to deal with short-term issues on a daily basis, working with the scientists aboard the Tara forces me to take the long term view. »
Agnès Troublé continues to see the Tara as a wonderful educational tool, thanks among other things to the Tara Junior initiative. She says: « Ten thousand children from across the world came aboard the boat during the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2012). In ten years’ time those children will be 20 years old. I have faith in these new generations. There is a growing realisation among young people. They are aware of the risks facing the planet. They know that we are playing with fire and that the ice cap is shrinking fast. Even the big polluters such as the Chinese, for whom pollution was the last of their priorities, are starting to take action. The Americans are too ».
There is an ugent need to act. It is estimated that over the last thirty years the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer’s end has decreased by seventy-five percent. At the end of 2012 the ice cap at summer’s end had shrunk from some eight million square kilometres to approximately three million. « We cannot sit back and watch, » says Étienne Bourgois reiterating his mother’s concerns. « That is why the Tara is an international initiative which transcends national boundaries. What unites Agnès and I is our concern for others, not what we do for ourselves. The Tara is the physical proof of that. Onboard there are no egos, opinion leaders, show-offs or « bling ». The purpose of our expeditions is also to share our results, on a wide scale. » Agnès Troublé hopes that even more influential names will lend their support to the future expeditions of the Tara. « I would really like other wealthy people – yes, let’s use the word “wealthy” – to become involved in the project. Some are generous, others aren’t. However, it is crucial that the wealthy share. There are going to be more and more of us on Earth and if people don’t share, it can’t work. » We’ve been warned!
Michel Temman, editor-in-chief of the Tara’s newspaper “special 10 years”