Powerboat adventurer Alan Priddy is back with Team Britannia - a new project to break the round-the-world record in 2015
A British team of 10 adventurers will attempt to smash the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe in a powerboat next year.
Team Britannia, led by round-the-world veteran Alan Priddy (pictured below), will set off from Europa Point in Gibraltar on 1 November 2015.
The British crew aims to knock ten days off the current record of 60 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes, which was set in 2008 by New Zealander Pete Bethune in his 78ft powered trimaran, Earthrace.
Team Britannia’s, as yet unnamed, fast planing monohull (pictured above) is aiming for an average cruising speed in excess of 16.2 knots.
Speaking at the £2.9million project’s launch event in Canary Wharf last night (8 December), Alan said: “It’s time we brought the record back home.”
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A project reborn
Claiming the world circumnavigation record has been Alan’s aim for more than a decade. His previous attempt in 2002 with Spirit of Cardiff ended in failure, after stop-offs in an Indonesian jail and a crewmember suffering a heart attack.
His second attempt has been six years in the making and suffered a major setback in 2012 when a fire at his Birmingham boatyard led to Team Britannia’s first hull being scrapped.
However, the November 2015 start date is now set in stone, with backing secured from the likes of Raymarine, Iridium, Cobweb and SulNOx.
And there is more to it than sheer vanity, as the Royal British Legion has been announced as Team Britannia’s charity partner.
What’s more, a representative of the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association will be on board for each of the seven stages of the journey.
The 80ft aluminium hull will begin to take shape at ABC Marine on Hayling Island next month, with the yard working on a semi-wave piercing design created by lifeboat pioneer Professor Bob Cripps.
It is not just the vessel that will be different for Alan this time around, as the route has been reworked to ensure a smooth passage across international borders.
Each of the seven fuelling points (Puerto Rico, Panama, Acapulco, Honolulu, Guam, Singapore and Oman) have been chosen due to their close diplomatic links with either the UK or the USA.
As if the circumnavigation record wasn’t enough, Team Britannia is also hoping to break the record for the fastest passage of the Suez Canal and the fastest crossing from Puerto Rico to Panama.
Each Formula 1-style pit stop will see the 30,000-litre fuel tank refilled in around three minutes. To ensure a quick turnaround, the engines will be kept running at all times.
In 2012 a rival American team announced that they planned to compete with Team Britannia in a simultaneous record attempt, but Alan claims that their efforts are now “in the background”.
“It’s still open,” he added. “But we will start on 1 November 2015, with or without them.”
A fuel’s errand
Maximising fuel efficiency is key on a long-distance trip such as this, and for this reason Team Britannia won’t just be fuelled by standard marine diesel.
Instead, they have teamed up with British firm SulNOx and will use a fuel emulsion, which blends petrol and water together at an atomic level.
Anyone who’s ever accidentally got rainwater in their fuel tank will know that this isn’t usually a happy combination, but Team Britannia points out that the component parts of water – oxygen and hydrogen – are both powerful fuels, if treated properly.
Team Britannia’s calculations claim that the twin Fiat C13 engines will return an average fuel consumption of 0.6mpg on this 24,000-mile voyage.
SulNOx fuels also boast impressive environmental benefits, with less carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide produced than when conventional fuel is burned.
“With the addition of SulNOx, we have a boat that will not just break the world record, but will do it cleaner and greener than anyone else,” Alan claims.
Making the business case
Unlike Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup efforts, Team Britannia has not received any government funding, and Alan claims it would be inappropriate to even ask for taxpayer money
Instead, the project is hoping to raise more than £600,000 by attracting 25 corporate partners, who will get their branding on the boat, an equity share in SulNOx, and use of the vessel for one day of corporate entertainment, prior to the round-the-world attempt.
Alan is under no illusion that this isn’t a huge challenge, after all Team Britannia is only the third team to attempt such a feat after Earthrace in 2008 (pictured left) and Cable and Wireless Adventurer in 1998.
However, he points to the experience of his ten-man crew, including powerboat racer Pietro Giovannoli and Dr Jan Falkowski, who holds seven world powerboat records.
“This project is the culmination of a lifetime’s work that I hope will highlight the amazing qualities and skills that we have in abundance in our country,” Alan adds.
“I hope it serves as reminder of what this country has and can still achieve.”