Barton Marine supports as many sailing ventures as possible and we especially like to get new sailors out on the water so we support sailing clubs, Sea Scouts and Cadet functions throughout Britain. However, we also lend some support to the seasoned sailors who are trying to achieve great feats at Sea. One of our latest relationships is with PixelBoat pioneer, Alex Alley, a world record sailor with his sights set on cruising into the record books!
We spoke to Alex to get his take on recent challenges ahead and how it all started for him.
Q – How did you get into sailing?
A – I began sailing when I was a child in Ramsgate, Kent. I was given a Mirror dinghy as a birthday present, and my father and I taught ourselves to sail it. After that, I began sailing on other people’s boats and learning from them all the time – eventually ending up racing at the Royal Temple Yacht Club on various boats, each bigger and faster than the previous one. Then, when I left school I went to Southampton to study Yacht Design and it is there that I really got into big boat racing.
Q – Tell us a bit more about PixelBoat and what motivated you to start this venture?
A – Almost 10 years ago, after I returned from a round the world race, I began looking for sponsorship for a Mini Transat campaign. Without a boat it was hard to raise the money and without the money I couldn’t get a boat – catch 22. So rather than looking for a single sponsor, I decided I wanted to have 10 sponsors each sharing the cost and benefits of the campaign. I very quickly took this further and decided I was going to have thousands of sponsors – everyday people – each contributing a tiny amount, essentially crowd funding the campaign, and in appreciation, their photos could be shown on the hull of the boat.
One thing led to another and I had lots of people onboard who wanted to help me. It took a lot of work to get all the pictures on the hull and by the time I had that all worked out, I had moved on from the Mini Transat and turned my attention to Class 40’s and the Global Ocean Race (GOR). By the time I had enough funding to get the boat, the GOR ceased to be. Not to be deterred, I then began looking into world records and found the solo non-stop around the world (40’ division) record – which is what the PixelBoat campaign is now all about. Now thousands of people are buying £25 “pixels” and have their picture on the boat as I sail around the world to tackle this challenge.
Q – Why did you choose to use Barton Marine products onboard the PixelBoat?
A – With a project of this magnitude it is important to have the right equipment. I can only carry so many spares, so having the right product that won’t break in the first place is important. A respected name such as Barton Marine is therefore an obvious choice and we have some fantastic kit of theirs onboard, including High Load Eyes, Snatch Blocks, K Cam Cleats, Winch Handle Pockets and Clear Wear Pads.
Q – What is your goal for this year?
A – This year, the goal is to add to the two world records we already have, with breaking the Solo Non-Stop Around the World record (currently 137d 20h 1m 57s) being our number one target. I will be leaving the UK in October and starting the record in November, so there is still time to get your picture on the side!
Q – What else do you do in your spare time?
A –Spare time! What’s that? Pretty much all my time is spent working towards breaking that record, finding sponsors, promoting the campaign and, of course, sailing.
On behalf of everyone at Barton Marine, we’d like to say thank you for taking the time to talk to us and good luck for the challenge, Alex!