Lia Ditton's plan to build five yachts from ice, salt, vitamin C, paper and food - specifically to sink


Lia Ditton, Britain’s one and only professional sailor-artist, appears hell-bent on destruction. The yacht the 26-year-old art graduate raced in the Route du Rhum is to be cut in half — mast, winches, keel, engine and all — and turned into two art exhibits. She’s calling it ‘The Divorce.’

Meanwhile, she’s been dreaming up a new project involving a series of 6.5m Minis. The unique twist is that they would be built to sink. The working title is ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’.

These “Mini sinkers” as she calls them will be made of materials that will degrade in sea water, and Lia says she’ll be undertaking the kamikaze mission to sail them until they disappear underneath the waves.

She would like to make five different Minis from the same mould, one as a solid block of ice. The mast, keel and some other metal structure will act as a framework. A second idea is to have another soft water salt version “made from the blocks of salt you put in water softeners. So it would be putting salt back in the sea,” she says.

A third idea is for a boat made of effervescent Vitamin C – “that would froth” – and another from paper in various unidirectionals, which is her most long-lasting and practical idea. “Nigel Irens reckons that it could cross the Atlantic, and I might actually do the Mini Tranat in that,” says Lia.

The final idea is for children: a boat made of food.

If it can be made to work, Lia’s idea is to sail the boat as far offshore as possible before they disintegrate, and retrieve the framework as the sea claims the rest. But whether or not she can find a backer for this, um, novel project is the big question. “Combining art and sailing is something companies just don’t get,” she admits.