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South East Artist taking the lead The Boat Project sets off on maiden voyage following celebratory launch

  • Date: 2 May 2012
  • Area: South East
The Boat Project, Lone Twin, Artist taking the lead

The Boat Project, Lone Twin, Artist taking the lead. Credit: Photo courtesy of Lone Twin

A fantastic yacht crafted from hundreds of donated items to celebrate London 2012 - called The Boat Project - will hit the seas this summer after launching on 7 May. 

Lone Twin, one of Europe’s leading performance companies, has spent the past year collecting wooden items from thousands of people living in the South East, documenting their stories, and working with an Olympic silver medallist and international boat designer and a team of volunteers to build the 30-ft yacht.

The boat will touch the water for the first time on 7 May at a free, celebratory launch event at Thornham Marina, Emsworth, where the boat was constructed, with a traditional fete of music, entertainment and refreshments marking this momentous occasion.

The launch will unite thousands of people who came together to create the boat, as well as the boat’s artists, build team and crew: Gary Winters & Gregg Whelan of Lone Twin, Build Team Mark Covell and Simon Rogers, Boat Captain Mike Barham and Boat Crew Julie Wright, Steve Ashmore, Michelle Die’tt, Jerome Timmins and Daniel Lane.

Gregg Whelan of Lone Twin says, ‘The boat will be winched by a giant crane into the water, where she will go through the traditional champagne smashing ceremony and her name will be revealed. A female celebrity will perform the honours, as boating tradition dictates it must be a lady who names the vessel. I don’t want to say who that lady will be just yet though!’

The Boat Project is one of 12 Artist taking the lead projects, the Arts Council England’s flagship project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It is also part of the London 2012 Festival, the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration from running 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK.

Following the launch, the boat will go on a maiden voyage around the South Coast, stopping at five main ports of call - Brighton, Portsmouth, Hastings, Margate and Milton Keynes – where a festival of events will celebrate each arrival mooring and departure of the boat and her crew.

Although the free tickets to the launch are sold out, residents at each stop off will be able to take part in a programme of special festival of events at each of the ports of call, which will include artworks, music, dance and artist talks. Festivities include performances from the official Ship’s Log, musician Johny Lamb who goes under the name of Thirty Pounds of Bone, who will be writing and performing a new song for each leg of the maiden voyage.

All of the 1,200 donations will be detailed in The Boat Project Book, which were digitally recorded and photographed with its donor. The donations range from the sublime to the sentimental: a sliver of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, a salad server in the shape of a spanner, a plank from the new London 2012 Velodrome, a piece of the Brighton Pier, and a Victorian policeman’s truncheon.

Sally Abbott, Regional Director, South East, Arts Council England, says: ‘Coming along and taking part in the programme of activities planned at The Boat stop off points is yet another great opportunity for people of all ages to take part in the arts and to feel a greater connection to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

‘We’re pleased that so many people have been involved in the Boat Project– 17,000 at the last count - as crew, donors and boat shed volunteers. The sense of pride and ownership from local communities that has emerged since we first announced the project back in 2010 has been truly amazing. We hope people are looking forward to seeing the finished vessel in their own locality, enjoying the vast range of activities on offer and  of course seeing their own donations as part of this special yacht.’

The Boat Project launches on 7 May, then stops in Brighton on 19 May, Portsmouth on 23 June, Hastings on 6 July, Margate on 13 July, and Milton Keynes on 19 July. For details on the other stops, see