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Ian Thomson - Round Australia Solo record attempt – on Sat Phone

by www.Sail-World.com on 19 May 2010
Ian Thomson - SOS Ocean Racing Ian Thomson
Ian Thomson’s SOS Ocean Racing is running down the coast of Western Australia having departed Airlie Beach on the fifth of May. In the wee small hours of the morning, we talked to him by sat. phone from the North West of Western Australia.

Thomson:

'There has been plenty happening. Keeping the boat in one piece has taken quite a bit of a challenge.

‘Yesterday was 35 knots all day; but also, you know, you are on a boat that is very, very different to Jessica Watson’s S&S 34 –this boat - a Welbourne 40 is built for on the edge of speed.

‘Even trying to throttle it back, it still has issues. The auto-pilot is actually coping .. mostly. But its the little things. A few minutes ago a squall came through at 30 knots and my check-stay let go. It let go and it was flapping around in the wind. I went to get it with the boat hook; a two piece boat hook which is now one piece; because the other piece is missing.

‘I am not really pushing it that much, there is just a lot going on. I am sleeping quite well. I work on a boat and all the movements of it so that does not bother me. I put in a second reef in the main and let it power-steer overnight; not this night, but the night before, it just did its job all night. I got six or seven hours of sleep through all my different shifts that I did.

‘You just end up with times where, like tonight has been interesting because of all the oil rigs and boat traffic, it’s just dodging and weaving and the squall’s have been coming through.

‘The lowlight of this around Australia passage is very, very simple; that was when the auto-pilot failed the first time and basically the whole sleeve from inside the ram pulled out. My instantaneous reaction was that whole trip was over.

‘I put it back together but then, up near Melville Island, I got a night when it was about five knots, I hove too and so I just really rebuilt the thing properly.

‘It was a screw-in fitting, but it was just hard to actually get it to interlock inside. So, I ended up taking the whole thing apart and lock-tightening it and the sleeves held in.

‘The issues I have now is that the auto-pilot ram is just not long enough. So it’s a problem in really heavy wind.

‘This boat is really good because of the twin rudder. It has very direct steering. But because the auto-pilot is a reaction steering device rather than a predicting steering device, if it goes, it is very hard to get back. For some reason it always falls into a crash gybe - it never rounds up.

‘In the last couple of days since I stabbed my hand with a fitting that broke, I haven’t been doing much hand steering because I have tried to keep it dry - I want it dry for the southern ocean. Once I get down to the southern ocean I will be driving a whole lot. But the last two days in particular I think I might have totalled five or six hours of steering which is so unusual for me because I love the steering part of it. I have actually taken to reading my book.

‘But then the latest weather forecast that I have downloaded says that it is pretty much upwind, so my progress is going to be slowed a little bit. It’s not straightly upwind, but it is not downwind like it has been all the way to now.

‘So the next five or six days is going to be a little bit harder again. I just have to keep the boat in one piece. I don’t need to push this boat and that is what I have to keep pushing into my head.

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'A wise man said ‘sometimes you have to stop being yourself; start being someone else. I am a sailor who always wants 110% out of the boat, and I said this before I even left, I need to be at 80 – 100% most of the time, instead of pushing 110% for short periods like you would with a crew.

‘I would have thought the end of the first week would have been the toughest part physically; but I found the second week to be harder. I haven’t really seen land I have been off the coast apart from going through the peninsula, but I just don’t see land.

‘Eventually seeing land in the morning when the sun comes up will be kind of unique. I saw a little island yesterday; it made a world of difference. It’s kind of weird, the mental things that you go through with something like this. You can’t prepare for it because you don’t know what it is going to be like.

‘The sailing part of it, some of the sunrises, sunsets, and those sorts of things out here have been spectacular. The days when you have the spinnaker up and you are just cruising, it is just unreal.

'But then there are times when you are like, okay let’s just get through to some nice weather.

'The reason I am out here is to publicise the problems the world has with plastic bags.

'Last night I was talking to one of the boats that was heading out to the oil rigs; they had been talking about plastic bags and rubbish on the rigs.

'I think it is everyone’s mind that they know plastic bags are bad for the world. But we have to stop them at the source. The shops have to make the action.

'The Environment Minister Peter Garrett definitely needs to start getting his act together, because he said once that he was going to ban plastic bags. There has been a suggestion that its too expensive to do it.

'However I am wondering what price a whale’s life or a turtle’s life is worth, let alone the 36,700 ton of plastic bags cluttering up our landfills every year.

'So we have got to stop them at the source, we have got to make regulations.

'If people can go to the www.sosoceanracing.com website, there is a poll, and the more people we get on that poll telling them what they think I should do, the more ammunition I have when I get back to go to the governments and say ... 'look this is what I was doing, and this is what the people of Australia want, no excuses – it’s not about money.!'

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.
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