Josh Hall: Going plastic

Josh Hall: Going plastic

Wednesday March 24 2010 Author: Josh Hall Location: United States

David Thomson, who raced as co-skipper aboard Class40 Mowgli in the 2008-09 Portimão Global Ocean Race and is signed up to race the 2011-12 Global Ocean Race with Alex Alley, is currently undertaking another extraordinary high-seas adventure. On Saturday 20th March, he sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and out of San Francisco Bay as co-skipper aboard the trans-Pacific expedition vessel Plastiki, bound for Sydney, Australia.

The brainchild of banking heir and passionate eco-hero, David de Rothschild, Plastiki has been three years in the making. The catamaran vessel, designed by Australian naval architect Andy Dovell, is built using a material known as PT which is created purely from recycled plastic bottles and the expedition aims to raise awareness of how it is possible to use our garbage to great benefit. The voyage will also highlight the man-made horror of the Pacific Garbage Patch – vast swaths of waste that have accumulated in this beautiful and sensitive ocean. Some 12,500 plastic bottles have been used in the construction of Plastiki and, in fact, the entire vessel could be recycled post-voyage and transformed into computer casings, for example.

Two and a half years of extensive research and design have been invested in the project with Plastiki subsequently being built and prepared in San Francisco, California. David Thomson was asked to join the project for the final six months of build/preparation and will co-skipper the voyage itself, bringing with him a wealth of offshore knowledge and skills. “I have been closely involved in preparing and sailing aboard many trans-oceanic race yachts. The unique nature of this boat and the expedition itself has held a magnetic attraction for me,” said Thomson just before his departure. “Creating an ocean-going vessel from this product and then learning how we can best sail her has been fascinating and I am greatly looking forward to our voyage.”

Thomson will not be traversing this ocean at his customary racing pace – Plastiki will probably average around four knots of speed for the 5,000 mile crossing and will rarely exceed six knots. He will, however, have more company than usual as there is a crew of six onboard, led by female British shorthanded skipper, Jo Royle, and including two cameramen who will be documenting the voyage. Also onboard is Olav, the grandson of Thor Heyerdahl of Kon-Tiki fame, whose family have fully endorsed the expedition.

We wish David and all the crew of Plastiki a safe and successful voyage and can recommend the important and informative messages that the project represents – www.plastiki.com is required viewing for everyone on the planet......

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