Record circumnavigation bid back on

A Guatamalan Judge has allowed the skipper of the Earthrace boat to continue his attempt to break the round the world speed record.

New Zealander Pete Bethune was held for five days in a Guatamalan military base after the Earthrace boat collided with a Guatamalan fishing skiff at midnight on 18 March.

One fisherman was killed and another was taken to hospital with serious internal injuries.

A statement from the crew says: “In court, the Ministerio Publico (Public Prosecutor) had requested that Bethune face charges of negligence leading to the accident, and that his boat be impounded.The Judge however ruled that the event was in fact an accident, and that no charges should be laid. Earthrace has continually maintained that two major contributors to the accident were that the fishing vessel had no white light, and its crew was asleep at the time of the accident.”

Before the court case Bethune met with the family of the dead fisherman.

He said it was an extremely emotional experience for all involved: “I’m hopeful it will allow the families some degree of closure on the event, having now heard from us what had happened on the night of the collision.”

A final comment from the crew reads: “Earthrace has now left Guatemala and is en-route to Acapulco, Mexico. Damage sustained in the accident will be repaired in Mexico, then the team will continue with their objective of setting a new world record for a powerboat to circumnavigate the globe. The team feels they have an extremely difficult challenge to get the record now, due to the amount of time they lost in Guatemala, but that they will do their best.”

The current record of 75 days was set by British boat Cable & Wireless in 1998. Earthrace aimed to smash this with a target of 65 days. They have lost 10 days in Guatamala, so theoretically the record is still just possible.

The boat is fuelled by biodiesel in attempt to highlight the benefits of renewable energy.