Alternative-Fuel Power Boat set for world circumnavigation attempt
By Mike Hanlon
February 15, 2007
February 16, 2007 Earthrace is a bid to break the 75 day world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat, and using only renewable fuels. Circumnavigating the globe represents the pinnacle of powerboat challenges, and at 24,000 nautical miles, is also the world's longest race. The current record of 75 days was set by British boat Cable & Wireless in 1998 and the most curious aspect is that outright record is still safely held by sail power (The World’s Fastest Catamaran), at 50 days 16 hours. The 1,200 horsepower Earthrace aims to smash the powered record by completing the voyage in less than 65 days, but is unlikely to get near Orange II’s wind-powered record. Wave piercing is a key element in the boat’s design, as it allows the 78ft wave piercing tri-maran to run continuously at high speed in any conditions. Earthrace will begin its record attempt on March 6 and is still seeking US$500,000 in additional sponsorship for its unique attempt.
If successful, the boat, which is powered by two 540 HP Cummins MerCruiser Diesel engines (QSC8.3-540) would be the first vessel to break a major powerboat record while running solely on alternative fuels.
“We see Earthrace as a valuable project, drawing much-needed attention to the use of cleaner fuels on the water,” says Gary Dickman, CMD Vice President - Worldwide Sales and Marketing. “Circumnavigating the globe represents the pinnacle of powerboat challenges, and at 24,000 nautical miles, also is the world’s longest race. The docking arrangements near the South Carolina Aquarium and the Charleston IMAX Theatre offer a natural collaboration in promoting the global mission of environmental protection.”
The CMD engines were selected for the Earthrace boat in part because of their comparably low emissions. They also are extremely efficient and offer one of the highest power-to-weight ratios of any engines in their class. CMD, based in Charleston where it employs 200 people, also offers a worldwide support network that will be essential for this type of attempt.
Earthrace is a 78-foot wave-piercing trimaran designed by New Zealand naval architect Craig Loomis Design Group and built by Calibre Boats. To ensure the lowest weight and highest strength possible, the hull is constructed of carbon fiber with a top layer of Kevlar and is designed to cut through waves, rather than ride on top of them.
Earthrace was craned from the water January 23, 2007 in Charleston. Cummins MerCruiser Diesel is a primary sponsor of Earthrace through its donation of QSC engines, which will be modified to increase total output to 1,200 horsepower.
A British boat, the Cable & Wireless, set the current circumnavigation record of 75 days in 1998 with earlier versions of the same Cummins engines. Earthrace plans on finishing in less than 65 days.