Advanced Engineering 2018

Round the World in 140 Days

01 March 2002

To sail around the world single-handedly takes a huge amount of motivation, commitment and unending enthusiasm - and that's even before setting sail. Not many of us would contemplate actually undertaking such a tremendous task, even though it has been many a sailor's dream.

So when a young man decides to make that dream a reality, it's bound to attract attention. Particularly when the said young man is not ex-Royal Marine*. Particularly when the young man has chronic arthritis - in both hips, shoulders, spine, the right knee - and will soon need a hip replacement.

Forty thousand children in the United Kingdom currently have chronic arthritis, which not only affects joints, but can also affect internal organs such as the kidney and liver. Alex Ransby, skipper for the planned 28,000 mile trip, has suffered from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of juvenile onset arthritis, since his early teens. Arthritis is a condition that people generally don't associate with children, and funding to support them and their families is limited. Alex plans to use his trip to increase awareness of the disease, and to raise money, through sponsorship, for the Children's Chronic Arthritis Association.

Alex is a twenty eight year old accomplished yachtsman and City and Guilds qualified boat builder. Although he learned to sail as a child, he has not done so for six years. Alex approached SP Systems for sponsorship of materials for his wooden boat, Hipjoint, in the summer of 2001, and, recognizing the determination and dedication of this young man, the company decided to support him. SP produces a range of epoxies and reinforcements for boatbuilding, but Alex decided on SP106 epoxy as an adhesive for the wood and main laminating work, SP320 as a clear coating epoxy, woven aramid reinforcement for impact resistance and woven E glass reinforcement for sheathing. It is unusual to use a wood-based construction method for such a boat - carbon fibre being more popular in recent years. However, with wood's exceptional insulating qualities and with the tremendous advances that have been made in the field of epoxies by SP Systems, Hipjoint will not only prove to be both light and strong, but will keep Alex much warmer in the adverse weather conditions that he is likely to face on his 140 day journey.

Hipjoint was turned over in January 2002 and the official boat naming ceremony will take place in April. Alex and his boat will be tested when they appear in the Isle of Wight Round the Island Race, and at Cowes Week in August. But the real test will come when they finally set sail in October, and Alex has a chance to prove that dreams can come true.

*Over the past 15 years, only ex-Royal Marines have successfully completed such a round the world journey.

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