Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Vegetable artist crosses the Solent in giant pumpkin boat

Pumpkin boat
Image caption Dmitri Galitzine crossed the Solent, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, in the 800lb pumpkin
Giant pumpkin
Image caption The giant pumpkin had been given buoyancy aids and was fitted with an outboard motor
Dmitri Galitzine in his pumpkin boat
Image caption Dmitri Galitzine said the crossing was faster than he expected

An artist who works with oversized vegetables has crossed the Solent from Gosport to the Isle of Wight in a giant pumpkin powered by an outboard motor.

Dmitri Galitzine sourced the 800lb (360kg) squash at the Mere Brow Giant Pumpkin Show in Lancashire.

He left Stokes Bay at 09:00 BST and made the three-mile crossing to Wootton Creek in one hour and 56 minutes.

A spokeswoman said it went so well, Mr Galitzine decided to return in the pumpkin across the water to Portsmouth.

After arriving on the island, he said: "I feel great. It was faster than expected, it took under two hours the whole crossing.

"I'm looking forward to getting on to dry land now."

Grower Mark O'Hanlon, from Hesketh Bank in Lancashire, who sold the pumpkin to Mr Galitzine, said the artist had taken a great interest in the fruit.

"He followed it through," Mr O'Hanlon said.

"He saw it growing, he came to see it being loaded, he was so determined this was going to happen despite everybody telling him it was a bonkers idea.

"Going in the sea in large vegetables is not a good idea."

No sailing experience

On Wednesday, Mr Galitzine set a new world record of exactly two minutes for the fastest 100m paddle in another pumpkin - a 600lb (270kg) squash also sourced at the same Mere Brow Show.

He had spent several days working with boating experts to create the two pumpkin vessels.

The larger pumpkin was fitted with an outboard motor for crossing the Solent - one of the world's busiest shipping lanes - while the smaller one was hollowed out for the world record paddle attempt.

Guinness World Records said it had received notification of the paddle record attempt, which was recorded by independent adjudicators, and it will be examined later.

To set a new record Mr Galitzine had to complete the paddle within three minutes.

Mr Galitzine, who creates giant vegetable sculptures influenced by English folk culture, has no sailing experience but was supported by Portsmouth marine entrepreneur Jonny Boys.

A handful of pumpkin regattas, in which boaters race each other in giant pumpkin ships, have been held in the US and Nova Scotia in Canada since the 1990s.

A pumpkin boat race also took place in Hampshire in 2006.

Mr Galitzine said that while sailing pumpkins was "not common", the crossing over the Solent was "different to the regattas in the US, as it's over three miles and there are strong tides".

He said footage from the crossing would be turned into an artwork in the new year.

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