Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Olympic boat takes to the water in Emsworth

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Media captionThe yacht took a year to build and is capable of reaching speeds in excess of 20 knots

More than 1,000 people saw the launch of an Olympic boat built from 1,200 pieces of wood, including bits from the Mary Rose and Jimi Hendrix's guitar.

The 30ft yacht, named Collective Spirit, will sail along the south coast of England from July in the run-up to the Olympics.

The boat will arrive at the sailing venue in Weymouth and Portland, Dorset, in time for the Games in August.

It took to the water in Emsworth, Hampshire.

The artists who came up with the idea, Gary Winters and Gregg Whelan, visited 20 locations across the region seeking wooden donations to be used in the building of the craft.

The pair, known as Lone Twin, also invited members of the public to bring wooden pieces to their boatyard at Thornham Marina, Emsworth, from where it was launched.

The only criteria were that the items were made from wood and had a story behind them.

Image caption Collective Spirit was officially named and launched at Thornham Marina in Emsworth where it was built

Donations included a section of Brighton's West Pier; a plank from the London 2012 velodrome; several hockey sticks; a Victorian police truncheon; large crates used to transport gold as British securities to Canada during World War II and a hairbrush used by a make-up artist at Pinewood Studios in the 1960s.

Tracy Jones, project spokeswoman, said: "We have had an absolutely superb day and, despite the weather, it's gone brilliantly.

"More than 1,000 people have come to see the boat with many of them trying to spot the pieces they have donated.

"People have also been desperate to have a go on the tiller because that's where the Jimi Hendrix bit is."

She said of the building process: "People from all walks of life responded by giving treasured items from all parts of the world and, more humbly, their garages.

"Each and every fascinating back-story was digitally recorded and photographed with its donor."

Ms Jones explained that the name was chosen by public vote and the honour of naming the vessel was given to Emily Covell, the 13-year-old daughter of boatbuilder and Olympic silver medallist sailor Mark Covell.

Mr Winters said a sense of fun had flowed through the year-long building process.

He said: "The callout was for objects which had a significance and a story and people responded to that in all sorts of ways and we were given some lovely, lovely things, personal and emotional things.

Image caption Every donated wooden item included in the boat has a story behind it

"It's very difficult to be very serious with an aardvark and a coat hanger.

"I don't have any favourites but I like a stick which came from someone who made a pilgrimage to Sad Hill Cemetery in Spain which was used for the set of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and that stick has made a migration to the boat and will continue to do so.

"It has been an inclusive project about bringing people's lives to the front and celebrating ordinary people's lives in something extraordinary."

The boat's two-month route will include Portsmouth, Margate, Brighton and Hastings.

Described as a "floating collage of memories", Boat Project was funded by the Arts Council England's Artists' Taking the Lead project as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

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