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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 10:08 GMT
Green windsurfers take to the web
By Roberto Belo
BBC News technology reporter

Two windsurfers are travelling along the coast of Brazil in an ecological experience that can be followed every step of the way on the internet.

Windsurfers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The aim of Destino Azul is to make children aware of the environment
Diogo Guerreiro and Flávio Jardim are the stars of the Destino Azul (Blue Destination) Adventure Education project which aims to make school children more aware about sustainable development.

The Brazilian pair are travelling light. Aside from a windsurfing board, they are carrying a digital camera and mobile phone.

Their adventure is taking them from the south to the north of Brazil, a journey of more than 6,500 kilometres (4,000 miles).

Along the way, they are stopping off at local communities to talk about their experiences in schools.

The 23-year-olds plan to webcast a live video conference from the coastal town Bahia in December and even enter the Guinness Book of Records in the windsurf category.

Teaching by example

The two friends are windsurfer champions and also expert sailors. They started their journey on 17 May in the southern tip of Brazil's coast, next to the border with Uruguay.

Map of Brazil
Kids see us on TV, so they are more open to learn about sustainable development
Diogo Guerreiro, Destino Azul
After some five months of travelling, they have reached Rio de Janeiro, and are proud to talk about their adventure's highs and lows.

Even though they do not have any support like a companion car or a boat, they are not alone.

The Santa Catarina Federal University and its Distance Learning Lab are providing the know-how and the infrastructure to make the most of the educational project.

"We go into the class and tell children about how we are living. That we are just using the wind as an energy source," explained Diogo Guerreiro.

"Kids see us on TV, so they are more open to learn about sustainable development.

"They get excited because no one did something like this before, and because it's new, it's simple: it's just windsurfing and a backpack."

Local heroes

The classes and discussions at the local communities include topics from fishing to the use of renewable energy sources.

Videoconference at the Santa Catarina Federal University
The project uses video conferencing as an educational tool
All this is documented at the Destino Azul website, which Diogo and Flávio update through cyber cafés and internet spots at schools and universities.

"We are creating a big data base about the trip, about sustainable development and about what we discuss in the classrooms, that everybody in the world can access," Diogo told the BBC programme Go Digital.

As soon as the young windsurfers appear as a tiny spot on the ocean's horizon, they are welcome as local celebrities.

"In the adventure section of the website, we have had a big number of visits, especially right after being on TV, so we can preview we are going to reach much more children than we thought before starting the trip," he said.

If everything goes according to plan, they expect to reach Oiapoque, on the border with French Guiana, by February 2005.

And may then embark on another ecological mission, this time a trip around the world on a sailing boat.

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