Pumpkin power for Solent sailor
A contemporary artist has become the first person to sail a hollowed-out pumpkin across the Solent.
Dmitri Galitzine set sail from Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hampshire, in the boat made out of a 500kg pumpkin, and arrived an hour and 56 minutes later at Wootton Creek Yacht Club on the Isle of Wight.
The pumpkin was grown by Mark O'Hanlon, winner of the UK's heaviest pumpkin title, 2004.
It was fitted with a small outboard motor which enabled the gourd to travel at about 1 or 2 knots.
The journey went so well for Mr Galitzine, 27, from Hackney, London, that he turned around and sailed back to Trafalgar Wharf marina in Portsmouth where he had prepared for the event.
Jonny Boys, managing director of Trafalgar Wharf, said: "We think that it's a fantastic achievement and we couldn't have done it without all of the team here at Trafalgar Wharf who have gone to great lengths to make this happen with some early morning starts and a few late nights.
"If anyone else has got a giant vegetable, or even a giant piece of fruit, and who wants some help to get across the Solent, we'd love to hear from you."
Speaking before the challenge, Mr Galitzine said: "Despite weighing 500kg, giant pumpkins are naturally buoyant and have a thick waterproof exterior. They are round in shape like Welsh coracles, which were an effective vessel in fast flowing rivers. My biggest challenges are the strong tides across the Solent."
Mr Galitzine yesterday also set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest 100-metre paddle dash in a giant pumpkin, which he completed in 2.003 minutes in a wet dock at Trafalgar Wharf.
The roots of giant pumpkin sailing can be traced to Nova Scotia in Canada and the International Pumpkin Boat Championships have been held in southern Germany.
Speaking after his feat, Mr Galitzine said: "It went really well, I took on quite a bit of water along the way which was a bit alarming but I made it.
"It was a little bit nerve-wracking, those ferries go quite quickly as it turns out.
"But I had great support from the guys at Trafalgar Wharf, they were the real experts."
Describing his reason for doing the journey, he said: "I learnt that pumpkins float and the rest was history
"At first I wanted to do the English Channel to France but the French coastguard put their foot down and I think the Isle of Wight was a bit more realistic."
He said that he would now be editing footage from the challenge for an artwork called "The load of a man is his coracle".