Back to basics for Airlie's sailor

IAN Thomson is currently sailing up the east coast of Australia, “Captain Cook-style”, in his SOS Ocean Racing yacht.

But a belt broke on the yacht's engine and the replacement belt was too large to restore it.

At first he thought he could fix the problem.

“I have had to space out the pulley system with self-amalgamating tape to make it fit,” Thomson said from his boat on Monday morning.

But on Tuesday, Thomson's fears became reality. He faces a huge challenge as he sails towards home and the finish line at Airlie Beach.

“I am coming home Captain Cook-style, with a compass and my charts as I have lost the ability to charge batteries from the engine,” Thomson said.

Thomson's date of arrival has been extended as he can no longer use auto-pilot for extended periods as it draws too much power, which must be reserved for lights and navigation.

He is also unable to continue using his onboard computer.

Before this major setback, Thomson had been making steady progress on his voyage.

He rounded the southern tip of Tasmania on Saturday morning and was comforted with the sight of the Australian mainland, near the Victoria and New South Wales border.

“I am tired but relieved to see mainland Australia,” Thomson said.

“It is a security blanket to know a safe port is never far away and I have that all the way home now.

“It is especially important with my auto-pilot issues.”

Thomson is still well under world record pace but at this stage he has only one simple goal.

“I need to take it easy to ensure I make it to the end,” the experienced sailor said.

“That is my goal now. I am so far in front of the record that I just need to make it in one piece.”

Thomson's world record attempt is to help raise awareness over the hazardous and destructive threat that plastic bags present to the marine environment.

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