This amazing sailing work of art has been dubbed 'the ship of a thousand memories'. Commissioned as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, it is the brainchild of Lone Twin performing artists Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters.
Donors gave their wooden objects for the project - over 1,200 in all, including hockey sticks, wooden spoons, guitars and toys. Each object brings with it a story, and all the stories are documented in an accompanying book.
The boat's name, Collective Spirit, was chosen by the public and unveiled at her launch. Her lines were drawn by yacht designer Simon Rogers, with the aim that she should have a sportsboat feel about her, but with plenty of room to take passengers and an ability to sail between ports around the country. Her amazing construction was managed by Olympic silver medallist and boatbuilder Mark Covell.
Close up on the boat
Built of cedar plank construction over frames, the donations, all of which were used, albeit just a small sliver or section of some of the, are artistically arranged on top, with a clear laminate finish. Whilst the topsides are perfectly fair the cockpit has been contoured to the shapes of the donations, producing an amazing 3D effect that has you itching to touch.
The result is a beautiful boat that you could spend hours looking at, but she's also very much a sailing boat, as you can see from our sailing video. She has a carbon mast with swept back spreaders, a carbon boom and a racy two metre carbon bowsprit, while North Sail’s soft NorLam sails provide plenty of horsepower. A long open cockpit will accommodate a large crew when required and the buoyant hull will carry extra weight without a significant loss in performance. There are no stanchions and guard rails leaving the deck clear. Below decks she also has double fore berth, a heads and an essential tea making facility.
Quite simply this is a fabulous project that has involved a huge number of people and provided a special spectacle for everyone who has seen the boat. Collective Spirit is not just beautiful to look at, but fascinating and functional as well. She's set to provide a wonderful, long lasting legacy for generations to come, long after the Olympic Games has been and gone, and shows how the impact of the Games is so much wider than its obvious role as an international sporting event.
Where you can see The Boat Project
July 10-12 Ramsgate
July 13-16 Margate
July 18 Gravesend
July 20-29 Milton Keynes
July 30 Barford St Michael
August 1-11 Weymouth
Gael Pawson is the founder of Creating Waves and has been the editor of Yachts & Yachting Magazine for over 10 years. A keen racer, she has sailed all her life, and started writing about the subject whilst studying journalism at university. Dinghies and small keelboats are her first loves, but she has cruised and raced a huge variety of boats in locations across the world.