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Crew nominations open for sailors wanted to crew Olympic sailing vessel along the South Coast

  • Date: 6 May 2011
  • Area: National, South East
three men at marina

Mark Covell, Gary Winters, and Gregg Whelan, The Boat Project, Lone Twin, 2010. Credit: Toby Adamson

An ambitious art project based in West Sussex is currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers to crew a 30-foot seafaring vessel, which will sail along the South Coast to the Thames during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Boat Project - a South East region-wide Cultural Olympiad initiative led by artists Lone Twin - is currently creating the special sailing ship at Thornham Marina, Emsworth. The boat is being fashioned from a variety of wooden objects donated by people from communities in the South East.

The team - which includes the yacht designer Simon Rogers and boat builder, British Olympic Silver medallist and America's Cup sailor Mark Covell - is asking people to nominate a friend, colleague or family member who may relish the chance to set sail with the squad next year.

Crew members must be over 16 to take part but no prior sailing experience is necessarily needed to be part of the adventure. Lone Twin would like a mix of people for the team ranging from experienced sailors to complete novices.

From May 2012, the six to eight successful sea faring cadets will be fully trained and equipped for the maiden voyage, which is planned to stretch from Weymouth to London. Crew members must be available for several three to four-day training sessions in spring 2012 and for the epic month-long voyage which will follow in July.

Nominations should be made by visiting www.theboatproject.com by 13 June 2011.

Lone Twin, who won the Arts Council's Artist taking the lead commission for the South East region, have been asking visitors to come to the boatshed to gift the pieces of wood that will make up the body of the boat. Pieces of wood of all shapes and sizes are accepted as long as the donation has 'an interesting story behind it'.

Over 3,000 people have so far come to be part of The Boat Project and some recent unique donations have including family heirlooms, tributes to those who have passed, a historic sign and even a piece of Brighton's West Pier.

Boat builder Mark Covell said, 'This boat will not only look beautiful it will sail beautifully as well. To be nominated as a crew member is a fantastic opportunity to be fast tracked to a level of sailing that most people take four or five seasons to get to. Giving people an opportunity to sail a very exciting, modern sports boat, capable of speeds in excess of 20 knots.'

Sally Abbott, Regional Director, Arts Council England, says that making a donation to The Boat Project, nominating someone or being nominated to be part of the boat's crew are all great opportunities for people in South East of all ages to take part in the arts and to feel a greater connection to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Sally says: 'We're pleased that so many people are involved in The Boat Project so far. Being part of the crew to sail the boat on her maiden voyage in 2012 is another excellent way to take part in the project and it will be a very unique and exciting opportunity for the people who will be chosen to take up the challenge. I look forward to seeing the boat set sail for the first time next summer just in time for the Olympics and Paralympics and I hope that many people along the South Coast will also be able to observe the journey.'

Sally continues: 'There is definitely a sense of pride and ownership from local communities emerging as the boat takes shape and the donations days that have already taken place have been very popular. I am sure the enthusiasm for the nominations process will be just as great.'

Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters of Lone Twin, say:  'We've been open for 10 weeks and the response has been incredible, we've had thousands of people through the door bringing us hundreds of donations. This project is literally changing lives as our brilliant volunteers roll up their sleeves and learn a whole host of new skills, everyday's a school day in the boat shed!

'The big story at the moment is that we're looking for the boat's crew - nominate someone, we'll train them if they don't already have their sea legs and then off they go on the voyage of a lifetime, sailing under some very special, and very well known, skippers - it's an amazing opportunity. And of course we still need wood donations, we've had everything from a piece of the Ark Royal to a family's much used 42-year-old bath brush - we'll take anything so long as it has story!'

Arts Council England is delivering Artists taking the lead in partnership with the Arts Councils of Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales.

The Boat Project shed is located at Unit B, Thornham Marina, Prinsted Lane, Emsworth, West Sussex PO10 8DD.

Opening times are Friday and Saturday from 1pm to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.