'Plastic Bag man' gathers crew for Australian circumnavigation

Having taken the solo record for the fastest circumnavigation of Australia earlier this year, Ian Thomson, the founder of Save Our Seas Australia which seeks to eliminate plastic bags from society, is setting up to take on the crewed monohull record held by David Pescud’s Sailors with disabilities program when they set a time of 37 days onboard the 53ft Kaz.

SOS Ocean Racing, the sailing arm of Save Our Seas Australia, is out to raise awareness of the damage plastic bags and plastics are doing to the environment. They use their world record attempts to raise the awareness and the effects are starting to show. Already South Australia has a ban on plastic bags. Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia are all pushing through legislation presently and the pressure is on the rest of the states and territories to respond.

Whilst Mr Thomson’s focus is on Save Our Seas Australia, he has also set up branches in New Zealand, based out of the National Environment Center in Nelson as well as a branch in Florida. The aim is to create the awareness of the damage plastic bags and plastics are doing to our environment so people think about their use of these ‘convenience’ items and then put pressure on the governments. Mr Thomson also spends a great deal of time travelling around schools talking to students about the issue and encouraging them to change their habits at an early age.

On arriving back from his solo world record, Mr Thomson set about finding an appropriate boat for the crewed venture. At the top of the list as Australia’s most famous ocean racing yacht, the almighty Brindabella. After several calls to new owner Jim Cooney, the director of TPI Group who manufacture wind farms around the world, a deal was struck and Brindabella is now gearing up for the attempt on the record. Mr Cooney will be joining Mr Thomson on the record attempt along with Brindabella’s boat manager Justin Sutherland and crew boss Matthew Pearce.

Most world record sailing attempts for fully crewed vessels are taken on by fully paid professional crew however Mr Thomson decided to open up positions for the crew to any sailor around the world. After 123 applications were received, today they announced a short list of candidates still vying for spots as well as a core crew of 9 who are guaranteed to take part.

The core crew consists of:
Ian Thomson (QLD) who will act as sailing master.
Jim Cooney (NSW) who owns Brindabella and will act as one of three Watch Captains.
Justin ‘Bluey’ (NSW) Sutherland, who is current boat manager and will be the second watch captain.
Matthew Pearce (NSW) , who is current crew boss and will act as the final watch captain.
Sophie Cistek (VIC) will take on the role of bow.
Charles ‘Chuck’ Kosecki (QLD) will take on middle bow.
David Ward (WA) will take on a trimming role.
Wendy Tuck (NSW) will be in control of hydraulics and main traveller.

And a final core crew spot is TBA. This person will certainly make the team however needs to notify certain people before we can make an announcement.

The final 9 spots will be fought out between the following candidates
David Anderson – QLD and Fred Pezzimenti – VIC
Mark Christiansen – QLD and Kyle Rose – QLD
Tom Connal – NZ and Nash Stahmer – VIC
Pierre Devalux – Belgium and Daniel Taylor – WA
Colin Dymond – WA and Michael Tilden – NSW
Craig Greenhill – NSW and Geoff Tomlins – QLD
Grant Jones – NZ and Tim Wuth – QLD
Ryan Kaveney – NSW
Martin Kirkerterp – Denmark
Josh Leppard – QLD
Annie McComb – TAS
Luke Parkinson – WA
Damien Parnham – NSW
Julian Payne – NZ

The level of resumes received was of an extremely high standard and includes Olympic Gold Medalists, and people who have done over 10 Rolex Sydney Hobarts,

‘We have the makings of an amazing team’ Ian said today at the launch. ‘The shortlist will now go into trials throughout January before we announce the final 18 on February 1st. We will then reconvene in Sydney on April 10th and sail the almighty Brindabella to Brisbane in time for the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race at Easter. We then sail the boat back to Sydney and will depart in May 2011 to tackle the record. The hope is to go under 30 days.’

Also announced at today’s launch was the official technical clothing brand. All crew gear will be provided by Gill Australia. Gill recently supported David le Rothchild’s Plastiki campaign and when SOS Ocean Racing approached Gill Australia director Paul Shultz, he was only too pleased to be involved.

For more information on this campaign, click here

For more information on the activities of Save Our Seas Australia, NZ and Florida visit click here