THE man seeking to smash the round-the-world powerboat record is urging people to get behind his dream and help the region solidify itself as the UK home of the maritime industry.
Portsmouth ocean sports legend Alan Priddy is preparing to lead Team Britannia on an epic voyage around the globe in less than two months time that could bring about a massive boom in the Solent economy and pump in millions of pounds worth of benefits every year should the challenge pay off.
‘We believe passionately that the city has to get better, and it has to solidify itself as the home of the marine industry, and that’s why it’s so important people get behind what we want to achieve.Alan Priddy
The goal is to soar around the world faster than anyone else in history, a record currently set by New Zealander Peter Bethune, who accomplished the feat in 60 days, 23hrs and 49mins.
Mr Priddy says that should his Hampshire team be successful, companies and powerboat fans around the world would seek to have replicas of the Team Britannia vessel made for them, which could see a resurgence in Portsmouth’s boatbuilding industry.
And The News can reveal that Mr Priddy is seeking to stage a powerboat race featuring 10 of the world’s top competitors from Gunwharf Quays in 2018 which he says would be the water equivalent of the famous Gumball motor rally.
Speaking exclusively to The News, Mr Priddy said: ‘It’s not a case of if we will clinch this world record; but when.
‘Winning will demonstrate that Portsmouth and the Solent region is the hub of the maritime economy; whether that be for sailing, fishing, powerboating or cruise liners.
‘It will propel this region. This challenge is known around the world, and this is about promoting Portsmouth as the maritime city.’
‘We believe passionately that the city has to get better, and it has to solidify itself as the home of the marine industry, and that’s why it’s so important people get behind what we want to achieve.
‘We have got to win, and that will enable us to move the race programme for 2018 forward.
‘Our victory is crucial because it proves a boat like this really works, that it’s designed and built to the highest standard; and race teams, organisations from across the globe – whether that be police, army and immigration patrols – may want a boat like this built for them. And they would be built here.
‘That’s how we can create massive employment. We could see orders from as far afield as India, and if we can build 10 boats a year at £2m each, then the benefits would be substantial.
‘The problem is finding the people with the right skills to make this happen.
‘We have got to get the younger people in to join the construction family. That’s what Rolls-Royce have been able to do, that’s why it is successful. It’s a family business. We’re using a site in Hayling Island to build at the moment, but it’s not big enough in the long term. We have got our sights set on Hilsea, at the end of Airport Service Road.
‘But we could tie in with the aspirations for a maritime quarter in Tipner.’
The latest aspirations come after plans were unveiled to turn Tipner into a maritime quarter specialising in the construction of super yachts.
And Portsmouth-based Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie is also pushing ahead with his desire to win the America’s Cup and bring the finals of the historic sailing competition to Portsmouth.
Team Britannia will launch its British designed and built vessel at the Southampton Boat Show this month.
It will then commence sea trials, which will include sailing from London to Monaco, arriving in time for the famous boat show. After the Monaco Boat Show, the boat will travel to Gibraltar, for a final programme of sea trials. At this point the boat will be stripped of all luxury items.
Finally on October 23, after a week-long nautically-themed festival in Gibraltar, Team Britannia will set off on their world record attempt from the famous racing mark at Europa Point, where The News will join maritime leaders in seeing off Mr Priddy’s challengers.
To complete the record attempt, the boat must pass through the Suez and Panama Canals, cross the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator and start and finish in the same place.
The world record authorities, UIM (Union Internationale Motonautique) ha approved Team Britannia’s proposed route, which will start in Gibraltar and call at Puerto Rico, Manzanillo, Honolulu, Guam, Singapore, Oman and Malta to take on fuel.