50 Days Around Australia to Save our Seas
Whitsunday Sailing Club Member and commercial skipper Ian Thomson will set off in late April 2010 to break the world record for sailing non-stop solo unassisted around Australia. The campaign is known as SOS (Save our Seas) Ocean Racing and is out to raise awareness for the damage that plastic bags are doing to our environment.
Some facts from the SOS Ocean Racing website are:
- Australia uses 6 billion plastic bags a year of which 3.6 billion
are plastic shopping bags.
- 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found.
- A plastic bag can kill numerous animals as they take so long to decompose, any animal that dies from the bag will decompose and the bag will be released and another animal could eat it.
- The floods in Bangladesh in 1988 & 1998 were more severe because plastic bags clogged drains. The government has now banned plastic bags.
- In Ireland they introduced a 15c plastic bag tax and reduced their usage by 90% in one year.
- If each Australian used 1 less plastic bag each week that would be 253 million bags less a year.
- The #1 man made thing that sailors see in our ocean are plastic bags.
The main issue of this campaign is to reduce the number of plastic bags used by Australians and Mr Thomson states that he hopes one day Australia will be a plastic bag free country. After the sail around Australia, Mr Thomson plans to campaign local, state and federal governments to introduce a plastic bag tax like the one placed in Ireland that resulted in a 90% reduction in use. Until then he encourages people to REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE their plastic bags so they don't clog up the environment.
The current record for a non-stop solo unassisted around Australia is held by Brisbane sailor David Beard who set a time of 68 days 8 hours and 30 minutes, however Mr Thomson plans to smash that record by completing the journey in less than 50 days. The vessel he will be using is a much faster vessel and hence it is not out of reach. The attempt will be run out of the Gold Coast and heads outside the Great Barrier Reef, around the Thursday Islands, Melville Island, North West Cape, Cape Leeuwin, South East Cape (Tasmania) and Sydney Heads before ending up back on the Gold Coast. It will depart in late April/early May. The campaign will also compete in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race at Easter.
A unique aspect to this campaign is the ability for the everyday public to become a team member. Just like your favorite footy team, you will be able to support the campaign by becoming a member. Mr Thomson explains, "We are currently building a list of sponsors who can offer discounts or products to our membership package. The idea is to make the membership package unbeatable value and we are still seeking additional sponsors for this purpose. Once we have the complete package, we will launch our membership campaign where the everyday public can sign up to be a member and they will get a free crew shirt and what we hope will be an incredible package of vouchers and offers. Islandive.com has already come onboard to provide discount vouchers on trips around the magical Whitsunday Islands and I am hoping other businesses will do likewise. Sponsors can come from any field as long as they have a commitment to being Plastic Bag Free".
Membership packages will not be available until late January as the membership package is still being built.