The builder of Earthrace speaks exclusively to Britain's best-selling motorboating mag

Pete Bethune’s ‘bio’ boat finally hit the water in March. Next year, he will attempt to pilot the wave-piercing trimaran around the world in under 65 days (see the story in this month’s MBM).

Here, the New Zealander talks exclusively to MBM…

MBM: How long will it take to get the boat ready for the record attempt?

PB: About two months of sea trials to get a good handle on everything. But we have a promo tour through North America before the race, which will also serve as sea trials.

MBM: How does it feel after everything that’s happened to have the boat finally in the water?

PB: Just fantastic. This has been a long hard struggle for all of us, and to finally have this beast in the water is amazing. I feel very privileged right now. It is humble to bring such a project to fruition with so many people helping.

MBM: Were there any times when you thought the boat would never get finished?

PB: We completely ran out of money three times, which became very disheartening – like Groundhog Day. And as it went on I just got sick of going around begging. I’m still sick of it now. But you have so many people behind you that you cannot back out. When I ran out of funds the first time, I thought I was a gonner. The creditors were circling and a few sponsors questioned their involvement. But we somehow talked a few more people into helping us and managed to survive.

MBM: What now? What’s required to get the boat ready for the record attempt?

PB: Running sea trials now. So far we’re looking at going about 2kmh quicker than the designers thought, so we’re looking good. We have two months of sea trials and promotions around New Zealand, then over to North America for promotions for summer. The record itself will kick off on 3 March from Barbados, just before the cricket world cup.

MBM: Have there been any setbacks in the build that have made the sub-65 day mark unrealistic?

PB: No. We still think we’ll get there in 65 days. It’s such a long challenge though. Anything can happen in 24,000nm. But we sure have got a great boat to give it a crack.

MBM: What are you hoping to achieve by breaking the record?

PB: Just to raise the profile of renewable fuels. We are doing this now. Biofuels need to become part of our transport mix, and Earthrace can play a small role in assisting this process.

MBM: What would you say to your rival Alan Priddy, now that your boat is complete?

PB: Get off your arse and finish your boat Alan!

MBM: Have the technical stats of the boat changed over the build?

PB: No. Pretty much as designed. The cost changed a lot though. We went half a million (NZ dollars) over budget!

Photo: Tim Costar