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VoIP firm backs 'virtual' yacht race

Cunning stunt or art?

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A yachtswoman is acting out a bizarre "virtual" solo transatlantic voyage on a 40-foot racing trimaran - while being firmly anchored in the courtyard of Chelsea College of Art in London.

Lia Ditton, 25, may already be an accomplished yachtswoman having already competed two transatlantic crossings, but she's also a performance artist.

And the "virtual" voyage is part of her degree course - exploring the "relationship which develops between the skipper and her boat".

As she explains on her website, the work is a "static re-enactment of [her] single-handed transatlantic odyssey". As she did when she crossed the Atlantic single-handed, she will spend 28 days on her yacht as if she was on the ocean.

"As the weather changes, sails will be hoisted or doused and appropriately trimmed to the conditions. The purpose this time is not to race faster, but to reduce the wind resistance of the anchored yacht," she writes.

And the IT angle? Well, the yacht is called ProVu, which happens to be the name of a UK-based VoIP outfit. What's more, Lia will be using two VoIP phones to stay in touch with people "back on shore" making this whole event a symbiotic fusion of performance art and cunning stunt. Or a load of old tosh.

Ether way, ProVu chairman Peter Bryant reckons that VoIP needs a stunt for people to sit up and take notice. "Products like this, where the public's familiarity is not yet at the level where they are readily understood, need to be launched in an attention-grabbing way," he said.

The mind boggles. ®

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