Cutting to the chase

A biodiesel-fuelled trimaran will attempt to break the powerboat world record for circumnavigating the globe. According to its developers, Earthrace is a showcase of environmentally friendly technologies>


A biodiesel-fuelled trimaran will attempt to break the powerboat world record for circumnavigating the globe. According to its developers, Earthrace is a showcase of environmentally friendly technologies such as low-emission engines, non-toxic antifoul coating, efficient hull design and solar-powered electronics.

Designed and built in New Zealand, the 24m (78ft) craft is undergoing sea trials in WaitemataHarbour, Auckland before embarking on its world record attempt in autumn.

Earthrace was designed to perform at high speeds in the toughest ocean conditions. It will at times pass through waves thanks to wave-piercing technology, which was originally formulated for passenger ferries. At moderate speeds of 15-25 knots, the boat will be able to travel 2,500 nautical miles between refuelling stops.

Wave-piercers have a very fine bow with minimal reserve buoyancy in the forward portions of the hull to minimise vertical motions. When a wave is encountered, the hull pierces the water rather than riding over the top.

Earthrace was built from carbon and Kevlar composites, with two 350kW (540HP) engines. It runs at a maximum speed of 45 knots and has a range of 6,000km.

At 24,000 nautical miles, circumnavigation of the globe represents the world’s longest race. The current record of 75 days was set by British boat Cable & Wireless Adventurer in 1998.

Earthrace aims to beat this record by completing the voyage in less than 65 days. This will mark the first time an official circumnavigation record will be attempted using renewable fuel.