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Ian Thomson – Half Way Round Australia – A Pitstop

by Sail-World.com on 24 May 2010
SAM 0220 - SOS Ocean Racing Pitstop Save Our Seas - Ocean Racing http://www.sosoceanracing.com/
Ian Thomson's solo sailing Around Australia WSSRC record attempt has reached the half way stage. And the Airlie Beach sailor has pit-stopped on the south west Australian coast line to make repairs before heading into the Southern Ocean.

Ian Thomson's solo sailing Around Australia WSSRC record attempt has reached the half way stage. And the Airlie Beach sailor has pit-stopped on the south west Australian coast line to make repairs before heading into the Southern Ocean. Save Our Seas Ocean Racing departed Airlie Beach 20 days ago aiming to break the record for sailing non-stop solo around Australia.



Sail-World.com talked to Ian yesterday..

'I had to make a little bit of a pit stop in Bunbury here, just to do some repairs to an engine and put myself back together again.

'Under the rules as long as you don’t use your engine and you anchor, and you don’t go ashore and you don’t seek any help otherwise; you are perfectly right to actually stop and anchor.

'Last night my engine stopped . I think I was hiking into the wind so hard and we are on so much of a hill that it just let all the coolant out.

'Already I have the engine working again now and the other thing is to just work on the mainsail. The sail has been delaminating a little bit in a few areas.

'For the last few days, the mainsail has been the only thing I have had up- it actually hammered last night at 30-40 knots..

'So the pitstop just made good sense. I have 68 days and I am already half-way around. I have got a few days up my sleeve.

'Right now I am sitting in the outer reaches of Bunbury harbour - funny enough the first real sea creatures I have seen, or dolphins I have seen have come in through the harbour here.

'Actually sitting where I am at, I am actually right out near the rock wall, I actually sailed around the corner and found a flat spot and dropped the pick. Actually I am in an area so I could just do some work – actually on the sail.

'Last time we spoke, I was about to swing by Ningaloo Reef. Well I cruised on down there pretty quickly through that day. That was a really quick day. I didn’t get to catch up with my mate, unfortunately the weather was a bit too rough for them to come out; and I was a bit too early. So he didn’t get to come out, but got down past Exmouth no problems at all.

'When I was cruising along, I knew the wind was going to drop out, so there was a day there where I did 98 nautical miles in a day; which was really frustrating. I went searching for the wind in shore which was meant to be a south westerly. All the forecasts I had said a south westerly would come in but nothing actually came about. So I wasted a day going in shore.



'The next day, I just went as far south to pick up this cold front and this big low that I had been playing with for the last two days. On that day, I was just sort of sitting in the cockpit in my shorts, on the beanbag reading a book, with the auto-pilot going. So it was really cozy. And 24 hours later, I have got the thermals on, the wet weather gear on, and getting absolutely pounded.

'I was hoping to get down before the wind went to the south, and get around Cape Leeuwin, but without the satellite internet hook-ups – I can’t get my weather forecast as often as I would like.

'I was trying to get down to Cape Leeuwin and I was sailing at 45 degrees into the wind with the main and it was 30-40, gusting up to 45; with the heel and all that and the engine spluttered and the sail started delaminating, so I decided to stop and do the necessary repairs.

'I was trying to get in behind the point there, into Busselton sort of area, but I couldn’t even get that high; so I just headed towards Bunbury. There is a really big area here where I can just sit here and chill and do the work that is required. The engine is working fine now; so that’s good.

'What I am going to do right now is I am actually going to go right through the boat again; even it takes an extra day – I am going to make sure the boat is ready to hit the Southern Ocean part, and pretty much for the second half of the trip. I have got days up my sleeve, so it doesn’t really matter if I take one or two days here.

'I don’t want to get half way across the Southern Ocean and then call for help because of something I forgot to look at. I’ll have a sleep, I hadn’t slept at all last night; still haven’t slept – because I had to get that engine going – just catching up with the media sort of things, and have a snooze, and probably end up doing the sail either late today or tomorrow morning.

'And either take off tomorrow afternoon, or even wait until Tuesday morning. The weather Tuesday morning actually looks quite good, so.

'The pace I have been setting has been 8 knots the whole way, and if I manage to do that, I will actually be the fastest mono-hull around Australia – not just the solo part of it, which was the target, but this will pit-stop actually put a dent in it.

'But at the end of the day, it actually didn’t hurt; you are fresh and you can go again. I am looking forward to being fresh and drying the boat out and cleaning everything up – I’ll be able to do some washing; just a bit of a maintenance day. It’s not hurting.

'Once I am past the East Coast, I will have all the access a lot better. The tracking is working all right, now that I am further south. So the tracker; I had a look at it earlier; and it seems to be picking up quite often now. So that is a good thing for the people following the tracker sort of things. My communication is up, so it will be a lot better.

'The East Coast is just so much better for 3G reception. From the time I; well Hobart will be a start, so once I hit Eden area and all that up there on the East Coast of Australia, I should have full internet access. I will be able to keep in touch a lot better and find my forecast coming more often.

'I am not using an off the boat professional routing service. I am doing it myself. Therefore I am very much dependent on getting good access to the internet.

'Pretty much, the whole campaign has been about doing it myself; I’ve been working on the boat, I even installed my own electronics and there are very few people who have actually worked on the boat. I appreciate those people who did do things that I couldn’t do.

'This whole campaign has been about doing it all by myself and very, very little outside help. At the end of it I can say; I did it and I did it my way; and away we went.

'From here I am about 100 nautical miles from the Cape Leeuwin corner. I am officially right about half way - 3,200 odd nautical miles to go.

'This was a snap decision. When I lost the engine last night, in particular; but I always thought that I would like to be all rested up before I hit the Southern Ocean. I was hoping I would get a couple of light days leading into it – so that before I hit the Southern Ocean I would be fresh. I guess this is the way that it is going to happen. '

Visit www.sosoceanracing.com to add your weight to Ian's Save our Seas campaign and vote on the issue of plastic bags.

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