WHITSUNDAY adventurer Ian Thomson will depart Airlie Beach on the 'Naish International Paddle Against Plastic', tomorrow, Friday September 28.
In stark contrast to his 2010 solo sailing trip around Australia, Thomson's newest awareness-raising campaign will not be undertaken alone. This time he is joined by Hamilton Island resident Kyle Rose and Whitsunday brothers Luke and Tris Mairs, all of whom will complete an epic 65 nautical mile (nm) or 120.38km stand-up-paddle (SUP) from the Whitsundays to Mackay. The paddlers will be accompanied by a support boat courtesy of Sunsail.
Thomson said the overall aim of the mission was to increase awareness about the threat posed by plastic to the world's oceans and human health and to raise enough funds to take this message to the region's schools through the 'Ocean Crusaders' education program.
"Kids are the next generation and they're a powerful group of people. They can influence their parents quite easily. My image is always of kids going into a grocery store and saying 'Mum, don't use plastic bags, they kill turtles' and that message to us is more important than any record or achievement. The only reason we take on these challenges is to get that message out," he said.
While the original plan was to paddle in the opposite direction from Mackay to Airlie Beach, a long range forecast for northerly winds has forced the paddlers to turn the trip around. They will now depart the Broadwater Avenue (lagoon) beach at 2pm for the 15nm (22.78km) paddle to Hamilton Island, arriving at about 6pm. The journey will resume at 4am on Saturday, with the 50nm (92.6km) journey to the final destination at Mackay Harbour believed to to be the longest SUP distance travelled in Australia to date.
Members of the community are invited to head down to the beach and farewell the paddlers from about 1pm. For more information or to donate to the program visit www.oceancrusaders.org.
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