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Earthrace set for second World Record attempt

by Rob Kothe Powerboat-World.com on 23 Dec 2007
Earthrace Jim Burkett

Pete Bethune, New Zealand skipper of the 78 foot wave piercing trimaran Earthrace, has announced his second challenge to break the round the world speed record, beginning from Valencia in Spain on 1st March 2008.

Circumnavigating the globe represents the pinnacle of powerboat challenges, and at more than 24,000 nautical miles is the world’s longest speed challenge.

The decision to announce the official start date from Britain was made by Pete Bethune as the current record holder is British boat ‘Cable and Wireless Adventurer’ who took the record in a time of 75 days in 1998

One the first of June last year the biodiesel powered trimaran Earthrace has abandoned her first round the world record attempt.

Earthrace had left Barbados on March 10th. 2007 After a fatal collision with an unlit fishing boat off the Guatemalan coast, the crew was detailed for ten days before being cleared of any liability. She restarted her record attempt on April 7, 2007 from San Diego, California and needed to finish back in San Diego by 21st of June to break the record.

From Malaga, Spain Earthrace had set out for Tenerife in the Canary Islands to refuel before heading across the Atlantic to Barbados, a distance of approx 2800 nautical miles - the longest leg of the race. Soon after leaving Malaga, the 78 footer’s GPS track reversed and the radical waver piercer headed back to port.

Earthrace had suffered substantial damage as she tracked towards Gibraltar across the Mediterranean Sea and she limped back to Malaga.

Bethune, a retired oil industry executive, explained the first attempt failed due to 'under-sourced logistics and not enough spare parts.'

For example, Bethune said, 'The biodiesel we were to use in India was made from low quality fish oil. It arrived three days after our boat docked in Cochin. We ended up losing four days there.

'The boat has certainly proven it is well capable of getting the record,' Bethune said, 'and looking back, most problems we had were basically within our control.

'So we have only ourselves to blame. And we will better prepared next time around.'

Now Pete Bethune also announced a major new fuel sponsor, SGC Energia (SGCE) based in Portugal, who will supply 165,000 litres of superior quality biodiesel. This is the amount required in order to break the record.

SGCE CEO, Vianney Valès, said: 'Earthrace is a really exciting project and an incredible hi-tech boat, and we are delighted to help by donating biodiesel for the Round the World Speed Record.

'She is rapidly becoming the highest-profile powerboat in the world, and our association will help to advance and create greater global awareness of the Emissions Free Liquid Fuels industry.'

Fuelled entirely on 100% biodiesel and with a net zero carbon footprint, Earthrace is a showcase of environmentally friendly technologies such as low-emissions engines, non-toxic anti-foul (underwater paint) and an extremely fuel efficient hull design.

From the start in Valencia, the boat will cross the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans and travel through the Panama and Suez Canals as it thunders around the planet’s circumference at a maximum speed of 40 knots.

The full record route is as follows:
Valencia - Azores - Puerto Rico - Panama Canal – Manzanillo, Mexico – San Diego, USA – Hawaii – Majuro, Marshall Islands – Koror, Palau – Singapore – Cochin, India – Salalah, Oman - Suez Canal - Valencia.


Bethune believes that Earthrace has a great opportunity to nourish and grow the global biodiesel industry, as well as to advance biodiesel as a genuinely viable alternative to petroleum diesel.

Bethune said, 'Governments have a role to legislate to make biofuels happen. If it were up to current market forces, biofuels wouldn't happen at all. Politicians in Western Europe must be prepared to stand up to the oil industry and be more supportive of the biofuels industry to make sure the production of biofuels is sustainable.'

Demonstrating his extraordinary commitment to the cause, and to celebrate Earthrace’s very first fuel up, Bethune underwent liposuction and donated enough to produce 100ml (he’s very thin), but two other, larger volunteers also had the procedure, making a total of ten litres of human fat. This in turn produced seven litres of biodiesel.

A successful attempt by Earthrace would mark the first time in history that an official UIM Powerboat world record has been broken using only renewable fuel.

Earthrace open to the public in London.

Throughout her visit to London (18 December – 1st January), Earthrace will be open for visitors to go on board and meet the crew at the QEII Pier, Greenwich.


Anyone with a Greenwich Card (Greenwich Council's discount card for residents) will get on board free, everyone else is encourage to make a small donation that will go directly to the boat’s running costs. For opening times and details of opportunities to use Earthrace for hospitality events, please see the website www.earthrace.net.

Earthrace is run as a not-for-profit venture, with a four person boat crew, four person ground. The base crew will be in London. All crew are volunteers and currently include individuals from UK, Ireland, Sweden, Hungary and Portugal.

Individuals and companies can ‘buy’ or sponsor an individual race leg and become guest crew (making a boat crew of five people) for that part of the world record attempt.

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