World record attempt

Ian Thomson before leaving the Whitsundays yesterday morning. Photo by Cassie Roberts.
Ian Thomson before leaving the Whitsundays yesterday morning. Photo by Cassie Roberts.

SOLO sailor Ian Thomson farewelled his Whitsunday home yesterday morning, hoping to return in about 50 days as a world record holder.

The Islandive skipper has spent most of 2010 preparing for an epic voyage, circumnavigating Australia solo and non-stop.

The current record for the anti-clockwise voyage is 68 days, 8 hours and 30 minutes and was set in 1990.

Yesterday, all his time and effort paid dividends as he glided through the start/finish line outside the Whitsunday Sailing Club in his 12 metre sloop ‘Save Our Seas (SOS) Ocean Racing’.

Although it was three days later than he had hoped after being held up by the delayed arrival of a vital piece of equipment, a tracking device, Thomson described his anticipation leading up to his departure for the world record attempt as “like being a little kid again”.

“I went and got a haircut today – that’s how well prepared I am,” Thomson said on Tuesday afternoon.

Staring down the barrel of 50 days of dried food, no alcohol and scant regard for personal hygiene, Thomson said he had been trying to enjoy the good things in life in the weeks leading up to his departure.

“The food’s been good over the past week,” he said.

“Tonight (Tuesday) I’m going to the yacht club for a last meal with my mates and my mum and it would be nice if I can get as much sleep as possible.”

It’s the little things that we all take for granted that he expects to miss the most, particularly when he faces the rough southern seas and cold weather.

As the journey wears on however, he hopes the real reason behind his voyage – public awareness of the damage plastic bags cause to the marine environment – keeps his spirits up.

“I’m expecting the media coverage to grow as I go,” Thomson said.

“Every major place I go past, the ABC will hook in [and broadcast a story].”

And if that builds a following from television, Thomson’s main sail, which has a picture of a plastic bag with a cross through it, will deliver his message for him.

Heading north after his departure yesterday, Thomson was hoping to pass Wednesday Island by Saturday night and would like to be heading south alongside the Western Australian coastline within 10 days.

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