Earthrace teething problems still being sorted

Round the world challenger underway nonetheless

San Diego, USA -April 9, 2007–Earthrace has now left San Diego and is continuing on her round-the-world speed record attempt. The unique wavepiercing vessel was involved in a collision off the coast of Guatemala with an unlit fishing skiff, resulting in considerable damage that has been mostly repaired in San Diego. She is now 800 nautical miles off the coast of California en-route to Hawaii, the next refueling stop on her global circumnavigation.

According to Earthrace Captain Pete Bethune, the repairs were much more extensive than initially anticipated. The gearbox and engine mounts were replaced first, however there remained a series of vibrations from various sources. The engine was realigned, the propeller shaft straightened, and the Hytorq propeller rebalanced. Bethune says “the hardest part was getting the driveshaft in and out of Earthrace while she remained in the water. It was an extremely challenging exercise that thankfully went well”. The 3-inch diameter shaft is 15ft long and weighs close to 400 pounds, so handling it requires a team of people.

Earthrace Engineer Scott Fratcher says, “there is now a single vibration left that we believe to be the Propflex coupling, which joins the gearbox to the propeller shaft”. This was found to be off-centre by 10/1000 of an inch. The plan is to swap this for a new coupling as soon as Earthrace reaches Maalaia, in Hawaii.

Meanwhile Earthrace continues her voyage across the Pacific with the vibration ever present, but the crew believes it will be fine at least until Hawaii. Earthrace is expected to reach Maalaia late on Thursday night this week, local time.