dolla dolla bill, y’all

pixelAfter completing one lap of the planet and getting involved in the mini fleet for a couple of years, I was looking for the next big thing when I came across the Class 40’s.

Bigger versions of the mini – essentially a 40’ dinghy with a big keel, big rig and a lid! This was it – what a blast it was racing these things two handed on open oceans. I was having a ball with some of the best sailing of my life, but I kept asking myself – ‘how can I get one of these things around the world?’ when up popped Josh Hall right on que with the Global Ocean Race (GOR).

This was where I wanted to be… however, I’m just an average guy, with an average income and a dream. I certainly didn’t have the budget to campaign a Class 40, so I was back to square one. The boat I had been racing was taken out of the water as the owner wanted to sell her. Many conversations were had back and forth to see if there was a way I could charter the boat but it was still well beyond anything I could afford.

I had been looking for sponsorship for the Mini when I raced them with varying degrees of success – mostly companies offering me free kit for some branding on the boat. All good and well, but I still needed something more. It was while I was talking with potential sponsors for the Class 40 GOR project that I had a ‘light bulb’ moment – instead of trying to find a single title sponsor for the whole cost of the campaign, why don’t I try and find 10 companies to split the cost and the branding? Genius I thought, but it was still a significant sum of money, especially when the global economy was having a bit of a tough time!

Then another light bulb went on in my head – hey, why not have thousands of sponsors, individual people, each paying a small amount of money to have their picture on the boat? I frantically set about working out how many squares I could fit on the hull of a Class 40 (over 6,000 5cm x 5cm squares it turns out). Then I had to work out how much I needed and therefore how much I would need to charge for each square (I was calling them ‘pixels’ by this point). In order to raise enough capital to fund the campaign properly I would need to charge between £25 and £35 per square.

I had the website designed and all was good to go. I had friends and people I knew wanting to buy squares, but I didn’t have a boat. I put the brakes on the campaign as I didn’t feel it was ethical to sell squares and take people’s money without having something real and tangible to put them on – things ground to a very frustrating stop! The dream was still there, the passion was still burning inside me.

Then a bombshell – the GOR was first postponed and then cancelled – there was no round the world race for Class 40’s! Undaunted, I then realised that there was still a round the world record to be had – so the focus was now put on this. But we still didn’t have anything more than an idea and a dream.

My partner, no stranger to extreme expeditions, had just returned from becoming the 3rd British female to ski full distance to the South Pole! We sat down and looked at the plan for the Class 40. In a fit of madness, we decided to borrow as much as we could and re-mortgage the house to buy a boat. Crazy – yes, but you don’t get anywhere in life without taking risks and putting things on the line.

So… we now have a competitive Class 40 and a world record to get – however we still to do a lot of work to the boat, replace some of the kit on-board and replace the sails etc. so what we need now is for people to get involved, buy some squares, put their picture/logo on the boat and sail around the world with me J People are getting involved for all sorts of reasons. Some just for fun, some honouring relatives passed away, others as a present for the person who has everything. It is something real and tangible to follow and really be a part of.

Everything is done via the website where you can also follow the campaign via the blog and see who else is on-board. – Alex Alley