A CALL to arms has gone out to the people of Portsmouth to help set two world records in a bid to celebrate one of the city’s greatest sailing heroes.
An army of volunteers and sailing enthusiasts are sought to mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Alec Rose’s triumphant return to Portsmouth after his solo round-the-world adventure.
Organisers behind the celebration hope to smash two records to mark the historic milestone – creating the largest human image of a ship and rallying the biggest flotilla of small boats.
More than 1,000 people are being called to sign up to the human image attempt on Castle Field, Southsea – earmarked to take place on the last bank holiday in May.
Then on the weekend of July 7 and 8, it’s hoped a flotilla of almost 700 small boats will assemble to escort Sir Alec’s famed vessel, Lively Lady, on her return to Portsmouth after a major makeover.
Ocean racing legend Alan Priddy is behind the plans – which have been backed by civic chiefs at Portsmouth City Council.
Mr Priddy – whose team is nearing the end of Lively Lady’s refurbishment at their base on Hayling Island, said it would be a key chance to celebrate Sir Alec’s achievements.
Mr Priddy said: ‘I’m appealing to all readers of The News who want to take part to get in touch via our website.
‘Sir Alec is a true Pompey hero – his story and efforts inspired a generation of sailors, including myself, and showed that sometimes it is the people no-one imagines anything of who do the things that no-one can imagine.
‘Over the next month we’ll be releasing more details about our plans and I know that everyone who has worked on Lively Lady, or knew Alec, hopes his story will engage and inspire future generations to get on the water and follow their dreams.’
Southampton Boat Show set the record for the largest human boat in 2016, with 370 people taking part.
While the record for a small boat flotilla was set at the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames, with 670 vessels joining – along with a number of other larger ships that bumped the overall figure to 1,000.
The two bids have the support of Portsmouth City Council, said the authority’s boss, Councillor Donna Jones.
She said: ‘Celebrating this hugely important event in an appropriate way is important for the city of Portsmouth.
‘It’s part of our legacy and history. There’s an opportunity to really celebrate all things sailing here.
‘I welcome the organisers’ ideas to encourage as many people to get involved as possible in two record attempts, including a sailing regatta that would make a wonderful, visual experience for so many people.’