Solo round Australia on a plastic mission

Posted: May 22, 2010 07:58 pm EDT

The Australian Ian Thomson is trying to circumnavigate his home country solo in less than 50 days. He is sailing the 40 foot racing boat Save Our Seas Ocean Racing in an effort to get focus on how plastic bags is polluting our environment.

The distance around Australia are 6500 nautical miles. Solo Around Australia Record for monohulls stands at 68 Days 8 Hours and 30 minutes set by David Beard aboard the 35ft Skaffie II. The World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) does however not ratify this record.

WSSRC is the official body within the sailing community that ratifies sailing record. Thomson will race within the rules as set by WSSRC.

David Pescud and crew made it round Australia on a monohull in 37 days 1 hour 23 minutes 57 seconds, and that record is approved by the WSSRC.

Thomson started off from Cannovale on the east coast of Australia doing an anti-clockwise journey May 5th. After 18 days at sea he is almost halfway. He has kept an impressive 8.1 knots average speed so far.
- Only 18 days in and not only have things got interesting but also intense. Yesterday I was sitting in the cockpit at one stage just in my shorts on my beanbag, reading a book in the sunshine, glorious sailing with virtually no wind at all, he reports in his blog.

But it didnt last.

- This morning the thermals have came out, over night sailed into the low-pressure system with gusts at one stage up to 40 to 45 knots and a second reef in the main. Hitting my record pass at 23.4knots, absolutely flying on mountains of water.

- The autopilot did an awesome job most of the night, although I did sail through the bulk of the storm. Winds now back down to 20 knots, with squalls still coming through at times. Sitting in my full thermals, boots, wet weather gear and it is bitterly cold outside.

- I am currently 200 nm from Cape Leeuwin, so still as expected I should reach the Southern Ocean some time tomorrow. There should be enough wind to carry me through tomorrow.

As most long distance solo sailors he has had his fair share of equipment break down. He thought it was all was over when the autopilot failed and basically the whole sleeve from inside the ram pulled out.
But after a night of hard rebuilding work he got it all together again. Up until now he has left most of the steering to the autopilot. He is saving him self for the Southern Ocean after passing Cape Leeuwin.

But the sailing part is not the reason he is out on this adventure. He has a larger perspective.

- The reason I am out here is to publicize the problems the world has with plastic bags, he says.

Ian Thomson was born 31st October 1973, and he has done a lot of racing up through the years.
Save Our Seas Ocean Racing departed Airlie Beach on the fifth of May at 10:30:20 in an effort to break the world record for sailing non-stop solo around Australia. Ian's mission is about raising awareness of what the damage plastic bags do to our environment.
He is also using the solo experience as a stepping stone for a professional career in yachting. His ultimate goal is the solo non-stop around the world race Vendee Globe 2012.

Save Our Seas Ocean Racing was built in 2007 for the Melbourne to Osaka yacht race, and the custom built Hugh Welbourn design weighs only 4.5 tonne. It is very sparse as it is a true racing boat. It has a carbon rig and is made as a downwind flyer.
Around Australia Record Course - On 22nd May 2001 the World Sailing Speed Record Council has set a new rule 10M.

"A skipper may nominate any starting/finishing point on the Australian mainland that is acceptable to the WSSRC. The vessel may sail either way around the continent as defined. Course: The course must enclose the whole of Australia and the following islands or capes: Ince Point on Wednesday Island of the Thursday Island Group (Queensland), Melville Island (Northern Territory), Montebello Islands (Western Territory) and South East Cape (Tasmania)."


Ian Thomson is on a solo circumnavigation of Australia.
Image by Ian Thomson courtesy Ian Thomson, SOURCE
He is enjoying the sunsets, but for the coming 10 days there will be few of them as he is entering the Southern Ocean and more heavy weather.
Image by Ian Thomson courtesy Ian Thomson, SOURCE