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Breaking waves and world records

Breaking waves and world records

Breaking a world powerboat circumnavigation record on the smell of a canola-oil rag is a very realistic goal for alternative fuel researcher Pete Bethune.

And while Mr Bethune’s vessel Earthrace will require a little more than a rag soaked with bio-diesel (it will need 70,000 litres), he said it’s a few strokes in the right direction to prove the reliability of the fuel.

“Earthrace” is an effort to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat, which will be attempted by Mr Bethune and his team of designers, boatbuilders and adventurers in March 2006.

The existing record was set in 1998 by diesel-powered British boat "Cable & Wireless". It covered the 24,382 nautical miles in just under 75 days – and now the Earthrace crew is aiming to smash this record by completing the voyage in less than 65 days. The public have a rare chance to view the prototype of the Earthrace, with its unique wave-piercing hull, at the National Boat Show next week.

Mr Bethune said the Earthrace challenge is a great opportunity to promote bio-diesel and hybrid technologies to the world. It will see him and three crew members speeding around the clock through some of the world's biggest waves for 26,000 nautical miles (48,000km). They will stop only for 12 four-hour refuelling stops at ports – where Mr Bethune and crew will go through 70,000 litres of bio-diesel made from canola oil, soybean oil or waste animal fat. Mr Bethune’s idea to take on the world in a bio diesel-fueled powerboat came from watching a video of a wave-piercing boat at a friend’s place. His interest in the technology fitted perfectly with his MBA research on alternative fuels, and when Mr Bethune stumbled across information on the last attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a powerboat, he came up with the Earthrace boat.

“The design brief stipulated the boat would produce minimum emissions and maximum performance in rough seas.”

“When a wave is encountered, the hull pierces through the water rather than riding over the top. The result is a dramatically smoother ride than traditional deep-V designs, minimizing stress on the vessel as well as the crew,” Mr Bethune said. Prior to racing, the Earthrace team will conduct a world port tour, visiting over 50 locations around the globe. The 22-foot prototype - designed by Auckland naval architect Craig Loomes - will be on display at the National Boat Show, 26-29 August 2004, at Mystery Creek Events Centre. Visit for admission information.

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