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SOS Ocean Racing - the first hit out in Brisbane to Gladstone

by Ian Thomson on 14 Apr 2010
Ian Thomson at the helm - SOS Ocean Racing First Hitout Save Our Seas - Ocean Racing http://www.sosoceanracing.com/
The rush to get to the start of the 62nd First Tax & Duty Free Brisbane to Gladstone was amazing. I have never felt so under prepared to go sailing however I really wanted to be with the fleet and this kept me pushing through.

On the morning of the race I was still furling and snuffing spinnakers but got away from the dock at around 0730.

Heading to the line I tried to get the auto-pilot configured however it just didn't want to play games. Under the pressure I made some really silly mistakes and basically I had no way of getting it going for the race.

Luckily I had Lisa on board, a friend who was meant to go up on Mondo until their late withdrawal from the race. She was coming out to assist me clean up and prepare everything. She also organised my provisions for the race which I was so grateful for.

Running late to the start line I finally gave up on e the pilot and asked Lisa to come with me to Mooloolaba where I thought we would withdraw. When we started pulling the main up the halyard slipped off the sheave and into a gap between the sheave and a plate.

Meant grinding the sail up was incredibly hard. Eventually two guys from a boat that was to pick Lisa up jumped over to help. Little did I know that one was Anthony Malloch from www.seamongrels.com He is an adventure kayaker who is about to paddle from Cairns to PNG. Amazing character. Eventually the main got up and they literally jumped overboard. There is footage of this in my news section on the website.

Instead of starting 15 minutes before the fleet, I ended up about 4 minutes in front of them with main only as I settled everything on the boat to go sailing. As the fleet came charging past under spinnaker I dropped below them and eventually pulled out the headsail which stopped the rot.

I rounded the Redcliffe Beacon and then over to Tangalooma with still a few boats passing as I was taking it easy. It wasn't until the west end of Spitfire channel that I was able to get a spinnaker up and then I started to regain positions. By this stage I was about 30th in the fleet.

Typical of my day, when the camera crew came along in the helicopter I was under full spinnaker only to collapse it whilst they flew around me. Not a good image but that is life. Their wind had disturbed the little air I had and I just couldn't get it back in time. Of course as soon as they left, pop, up she went again.

At the fairway beacon I had clawed my way back to about 25th and then the real chase was on. In open water I managed to wind her up and started blowing away boats. I could see the Farr 40's on the horizon and their kites started to slowly get bigger but then night came. I just couldn't keep this pace up so I pulled the spinnaker down and went with the headsail to make things easier.



My plan to pull into Mooloolaba was thrown out when Lisa agreed to come to Gladstone. I had enough food and safety gear for her so she became my auto-pilot. Overnight a few boats go me back and I was sitting about 15th by the morning. I was then able to put the spinnaker back up and track down a few more boat on the way past Lady Elliott.

Just past Lady Elliott I decided that I had proved everything and decided to go into conservation mode. I once again pulled in the spinnaker and put out the headsail. Arcadia and Corum got me back to put me in 14th position when I finished at 2045 which is only 30 minutes slower than my fasted time set on e11even last year.

There was a problem getting the main down and I docked with it still up and then a couple of guys of Samurai Jack came to help me get it down.

I was just thre hours behind the Farr 40's and very happy with my efforts. I was able to push the boat extremely hard and found it's weak spots and I found a few in me too, in particular my hands which in the morning where puffed up like balloons. A day and a half of clean up, repairs and celebrations with the crews and I was set to go again.

Gladstone to Airlie Beach

With the Auto-pilot working a treat, I set off at 1300 into a 15-18 knot easterly. Putting the main up was painful but once it was up and I was out of the river everything was smooth sailing. Averaging 8-10 knots under main with first reef and jib I was just cruising as the video on my video page will show you.

Glorious sunset. I settled into a sleep pattern and surprisingly found it quite easy to sleep in 30 minute increments and leave the auto-pilot steering. The wind held in all night but in the morning it started getting lighter. It was good as I got to try a few more sails including the A2 which is huge. When the wind got back to 10 knots I had to pull it down, that is how big it is.

The delivery was pain free and no problems to report. I arrived in Airlie Beach at 0330 on the Wednesday morning which was so nice to be home however I slept on the boat anyway.

After a day of cleaning up I headed back to Brisbane to get my car and now I am working on the boat to fine tune everything. It is now less than three weeks to go till I depart in the first week of May so things are coming quickly.

The weather patterns have settled a bit and it is forming nicely across the top. Just got to wait for a perfect window in which to leave.

Background

Whitsunday Sailing Club Member and commercial skipper Ian 'Thommo' Thomson will set off in the first week of May to break the world record for sailing non stop solo unassisted around Australia. The campaign is to raise awareness for the damage that plastic bags are doing to our environment.


Some facts from the SOS Ocean Racing website www.sosoceanracing.com

* Australia uses 6 billion plastic bags a year of which 3.6 billion are plastic shopping bags.
100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found.

* A plastic bag can kill numerous animals as they take so long to decompose, any animal that dies from the bag will decompose and the bag will be released and another animal could eat it.

* The floods in Bangladesh in 1988 and 1998 were more severe because plastic bags clogged drains. The government has now banned plastic bags.

* In Ireland they put a 15c plastic bag tax and reduced their usage by 90% in one year.

* If each Australian used 1 less plastic bag each week that would be 253 million bags less a year.

The #1 man made thing that sailors see in our ocean are plastic bags[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]

The main issue of this campaign is to reduce the number of plastic bags used by Australians and Ian states that he hopes one day Australia will be a plastic bag free country. After the sail around Australia, Ian plans to campaign local, state and federal governments to introduce a plastic bag tax like the one placed in Ireland that resulted in a 90% reduction in use. Until then he encourages people to reduce, reuse and recycle their plastic bags so they don’t clog up the environment.

The current record for non stop solo unassisted around Australia is held by Brisbane sailor David Beard who set a time of 68 days 8 hours and 30 minutes however Ian plans to smash that record by completing the journey in less than 50 days. The vessel he will be using is a much faster vessel and hence it is not out of reach. The attempt will be run out of the Gold Coast and heads outside the Great Barrier Reef, around the Thursday Islands, Melville Island, North West Cape, Cape Leeuwin, South East Cape (Tasmania) and Sydney Heads before ending up back on the Gold Coast. It will depart in late April/early May.

More information at www.sosoceanracing.com

Fundraiser

On Saturday night I have my fundraiser at the Whitsunday Sailing Club. They have been generous enough to put it on for me and I am still seeking items to auction off. I have a few but need plenty more to raise the funds to keep my campaign going. Things are more than tight at present and I am still hopeful that a major sponsor will take up the opportunity before I leave to ease the burden.

If you can help in any way please do so, even if it is membership or buying a crew shirt. Donations for the auction would be great. Every little bit helps to ensure this campaign is a success and I get my message out there.

The website has been updated quite a bit now and I also have a shore manager appointed in the way of Cass Roberts who will run things for me when I am out there.

George Camfield has been appointed Commissioner of Record and hence he is the official who will set the line and do official timing etc. He is known all over Australia for his sailing achievements so it is an honor to have him do this as such a high profile person.

I am really excited now, it is so close to realising a dream. To get out there and sail is my mission because I know my abilities as a sailor are better than my abilities at preparing a boat. Get me sailing any day.

Till next time, Smooth Sailing to you all. Have a look at www.sosoceanracing.com now

Ensign Bavaria C57 April 2017Wildwind 2016 660x82Beneteau SAIL Oceanis 51 and 57 660x82 1

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