Proud Burnet smashes sailing world record in climate crisis campaign

Rhu sailor Anna Burnet confessed to a mixture of relief and pride after breaking a sailing world record alongside partner John Gimson.

Burnet and Gimson took to the Irish Sea on Tuesday with the aim of raising awareness of the climate crisis and the problems of environmental degradation in maritime travel, hoping to issue a wake-up call to the industry.

They set themselves the challenge of breaking the world record for sailing from Belfast Ballyholme to Port Patrick – doing so on the Artemis eFoiler, a state-of-the-art transport vessel that foils and is electric.

Overcoming difficult conditions, the pair managed to comfortably beat the record by seven minutes, clocking just over 90 minutes across the Irish Sea.

Burnet said: “The main reason for us was really to raise awareness of the need to make the marine industry a greener place.

“In order to raise awareness, we wanted to do something that was going to be a challenge and that would garner some attention.

“We’re pretty relieved. It was challenging with the conditions, which were at times a little scary.”

Gimson added: “We were absolutely shattered when we finished it, but very relieved.”

The Team GB sailors, who took home silver from Tokyo 2020, have earned their fair share of plaudits for the feat but this was much more than a record-breaking exercise.

The pair, partners on and off the water, are striving to bring about change in the maritime industry, hoping to decarbonise a sector that currently accounts for about 2.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Leicester-born Gimson reiterated their motives behind the voyage, highlighting the impact pollution has on those residing on coastal areas.

“There’s obviously the carbon issue,” Gimson said.

“For people who live in those areas, in particular, I’m sure there’s a lot of health issues within the populations from the fumes of ferries and boats, particularly when the winds blowing into the harbour.

“Any impact we can make on that will be great.”

Artemis, headed by two-time Olympic champion Iain Percy, have been supporting their campaign, providing the innovative electric vessel used for the voyage.

Aided by the fact Percy is also the Gimson and Burnet’s coach, Burnet hailed the relationship built between the pair and the company.

She added: “We’ve got great relationships with them, they’re helping us a lot. And they’re all really good people.

“Their company is really growing so fast. What they’re on to with this technology is going to be huge. Foiling technology is the future of maritime travel.

“It was pretty special for us to come here, to do the challenge with them, and also just see what they’ve got here.”

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