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'Earthrace’ – around the world in 60 days

by Bob Wonders on 29 Dec 2008
Earthrace - World Record Finish 2008 Earthrace Media http://www.earthrace.net
It’s now in the history books – ‘Earthrace’, the radical, bio diesel fuel trimaran hailed as the world’s ‘greenest’ vessel, is the world circumnavigation powerboat record holder.


In June, 2008, ‘Earthrace’, with owner/skipper Pete Bethune and a volunteer crew circled the globe in 60 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes, slashing the previous record for a powerboat by an astonishing two weeks!

Crew for the world record comprised Pete, navigator Adam Carlson (Sweden), engineer Mark Russell (UK and USA) and cameraman Rob Drewett (UK).

There was also a strong support crew ashore monitoring the voyage and establishing required stop over ‘bases’, among them Pete’s wife Sharon and daughters.

It really is an amazing vessel as I learnt when I caught up with Pete and ‘Earthrace’ during the vessel’s Gold Coast visit last weekend.

“Earthrace’ is currently making her way down Australia’s eastern seaboard with stop overs at major ports, including Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Gosford and Sydney, culminating in a visit to the Melbourne Summer Boat Show before the amazing voyage ends in June.



The 78’ wave-piercing trimaran will then be offered for sale; she’s yours for USD$1.5 million (AUD$2,186,465.00).

Construction on ‘Earthrace’ began back in February, 2005, from a design by the Craig Loomes Design Group with Auckland-based Calibre Boats undertaking the build.

‘Earthrace’ is 24-metres overall (78’) with an 8.0-metre (24’) beam.

She carries 12,000 litres (3000 gals) fuel, has a dry weight of 14 tones and a fully loaded weight of 26 tons.

The design, of course, called for a wave-piercing trimaran, originally developed for passenger ferries.

“This was absolutely necessary for the world record attempt, as the trimaran design allows a vessel to be operated at high speed in both flat and rough conditions,” Pete Bethune explained.

More than 14,000 paid man hours and thousands of unpaid volunteer man hours went into the vessel’s construction.

It went a staggering US$500,000 over budget, primarily due to the amount of high-tech carbon fibre required.

Essentially, the boat is built from carbon and Kevlar sandwich composites, something which is continued aboard the boat where the helm, largely modelled on that of Formula 1 race cars, boasts carbon and Kevlar race seats and a carbon fibre steering wheel.

When she was launched, she and her crew were blessed by a Maori elder.

Power for ‘Earthrace’ comes from a pair of Cummins MerCruiser Diesel engines, each developing 540hp.

They are turbocharged and inter-cooled. Each engine has a Racor fuel filter, with a secondary 2 Micron fuel filter.

Gearboxes are 305A single speed units from ZF, with forward, neutral and reverse.

Cummins MerCruiser Diesel and ZF as major sponsors of the voyage serviced and maintained the engines and gearboxes when required.

‘Earthrace’ is currently on her second set of engines, changing them over when the original engines had totalled an astonishing 7000 hours use!

“The Cummins MerCruiser engineers were amazed at the condition of the original engines, as the bio diesel fuel provided superior lubrication than normal fuels and despite 7000 tough hours wear was minimal,” Pete said.

Four-bladed bronze propellers by Hy-Torque (the boat is now on its fourth set) give ‘Earthrace’ a top speed in the region of 40 knots at 3000rpm.

Throttle back to a 25 knot cruise speed and the engines run at an easy 1950rpm.

Steering is by Marselli while marine electronics on board includes 36 nautical mile radar by Northstar, Navman autopilot and VHF, ICOM hand-held radios and a 5000 watts Fusion stereo system which, Pete Bethune declares, “Can rattle the windows on superyachts.”

Pete admits the ‘Earthrace’ saga was a voyage that will never be forgotten.

As you will read in the accompanying story, it was an adventure to end all adventures.

Apart from the achievement of becoming the new world record holder, Pete can now take the time to look back on the voyage as he and his crew journey south.

His favourite place?

“Has to be the Galapagos Islands,” he said.

“An amazing place, probably the nearest you can get where it feels like you’re actually on another planet.

“That was just one of the memories and experiences of what really has been an incredible voyage.”

For further information visit the website, www.earthrace.net

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