The boat that Hendrix's guitar built

Story highlights

  • 1200 donated wooden objects have been used to make the yacht
  • 'The Boat Project' is a part of the London Cultural Olympiad
  • The yacht will go on display at the 2012 Olympic sailing venue

A piece of rock legend Jimi Hendrix's guitar, teak from China, a salad server and a plank of wood from a newly constructed London Olympic venue. Each item of this unusual collection of materials has its own unique history and now they have been put together to create a new sailing boat.

The 30-foot yacht launched Monday in Emsworth, Hampshire on England's southern coast, is made up of hundreds of precious items which have been donated by people across the country's south-east.

'The Boat Project' is a part of the region's contribution to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, which bills itself as the largest cultural celebration in Olympic history.

"Many people don't get to be exposed to the Games unless they have a ticket to an event," says boat builder Mark Covell. "This gives more people the chance to be a part of the celebrations and the cultural history of the Olympics."

Covell knows firsthand the thrill of being part of the Games -- having won a silver medal in Sydney in 2000. The Olympian has been involved in the project from the beginning. It's been two years in the making and Covell compares the scale of the project with his own Olympic preparations.

"It was an enormous task," explains Covell. "You needed to go above and beyond."

In all 1221 wooden objects were donated, and every single one has gone into the construction of the vessel. They range from treasures people have come across over the years in their travels to family heirlooms.

The result is a yacht that is not only unique in her make up, but also in her sailing capabilities, says Mike Barham, who will captain the yacht. "She's much faster than a normal 30 ft yacht," he explains. "She's a cross between a high performance dingy and a high performance sailing boat."

The donated items were collected over six months by organizers who visited 20 locations across south east England. Once laid out, the goods filled an entire carpark.

"The amount of precious things that were given has been really inspiring," says Covell.

Steve Ashmore is one of the hundreds who donated goods. The graphic designer contributed a piece of wood from a block of wood known as a tro, which was used by fisherman to haul their fish up the beach in Hastings, in south-east England. "I wanted to give something from the place I was from," he explained.

Ashmore is in a unique position, not only has he helped in the physical make up of the boat, but he's also a part of the crew of volunteers for the boat's maiden voyage, all of whom have been nominated by their friends and family. "I want the voyage to do the whole project justice," the novice sailor says. "So many people have put time, creativity and love into it."

The crew have been in training in recent weeks for their maiden voyage which will take them around the south east region. It will finish up at the London 2012 Olympic venue in Weymouth, Dorset in August, where it will remain on display throughout the Games.

Even without taking to the water Covell says 'The Boat Project' has embodied the spirit of the Olympics. "It's been the community who've donated their items and a community of volunteers who've built her and will sail her," Covell says. "And bringing the community together is an Olympic ideal."


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