AS ONE of the Whitsundays’ major attractions, the marine environment is something to be treasured by everyone who lives in the community.
Islandive skipper and Whitsunday Sailing Club member Ian Thomson spends much of his time on the deep blue and has become acutely aware of the problems being caused to the environment by plastic bags.
Often they are the subject of mistaken identity as creatures such as turtles dine out on them thinking they’re jellyfish – a mistake that ensures they never eat again.
Mr Thomson’s frustration with consumer ignorance in regards to the usage of plastic bags has driven him to start a campaign to break a world record and raise awareness for the issue at the same time.
He’s decided to embark on a solo voyage around Australia, aboard Farr 36 ‘SOS Ocean Racing’, with the objective of breaking Brisbane sailor David Beard’s long held world record of 68 days.
He hopes that the media stir this creates will give him an opportunity to make enough noise to reduce the average Australian’s consumption of plastic bags.
“Plastic bags are clogging up the ocean and I think it’s about time that something’s done about it,” Mr Thomson said.
He said one plastic bag can kill numerous animals because after an animal decomposes the bag can then be released and eaten by another animal.
An experienced sailor with a faster craft to that used by Beard to set the world record, Mr Thomson has set his sights on 50 days for the circumnavigation of his country.
He said the key to achieving his target would be sailing within himself and keeping the competitive instincts inside him at bay.
“My biggest challenge will be keeping the boat in one piece,” Mr Thomson said.
“I do a lot of racing so it comes pretty naturally to me to push the boat as hard as I can.
“As [former V8 supercar driver] Marcus Ambrose said though, with long distance events you’ve got to go at 80 per cent all the time, not 100 per cent.”
Mr Thomson hopes to do a full dress rehearsal for the taxing voyage in April’s Brisbane to Gladstone, solo if the race committee will allow it but otherwise with a crew.
After that SOS will have to undergo an overhaul to better pull it in to line to the confines of solo sailing.
For this and other financial concerns, Mr Thomson is relying on corporate backing and the goodwill of the community and he is hoping to get plenty of support.
Not only can businesses sponsor him but there is also an opportunity to become a ‘member’ of Team SOS Ocean Racing, which includes a t-shirt, vouchers and discount offers.
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