Solent powerboat team sets sights on March start for record challenge

Alan Priddy is aiming to launch his round-the-world powerboat bid in March

Alan Priddy is aiming to launch his round-the-world powerboat bid in March

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OCEAN racing legend Alan Priddy has unveiled the new start date for his epic round-the-world powerboat challenge.

He will lead his Team Britannia side on their 80ft vessel on Sunday, March 12, from Gibraltar.

Earlier in the month we had to announce the delay of our departure due to an irrevocable safety problem with the two stern hull plates. This has now been rectified and the new plates will arrive shortly, allowing the plating of the hull to be completed.

Team Britannia skipper Alan Priddy

The crew originally hoped to get under way and set about racing around the world in a powerboat in the fastest time this month.

But problems in the construction process means the boat is not yet complete and had a series of sea trails ahead of the 23,000-mile voyage.

Mr Priddy, who was to formally deliver the news in Gibraltar today ahead a weekend of ThunderCat speedboat racing in Catalan Bay, said: ‘My team and I have been busy studying more than 10 years of weather data to identify the next available window for the record attempt.

‘I am delighted to confirm the new start date of Sunday, March 12, 2017.’

The record attempt was delayed due to a technical problem with the two stern hull plates.

The ‘irrevocable safety problem’ say the crew meant the plates had to be re-cut and work on the boat had to all but stop.

And the delay meant that Mr Priddy and his crew would miss an important weather window, which would allow them to avoid the worst of the hurricane and typhoon seasons on the journey, that will see the boat cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and pass through the Panama and Suez canals.

Mr Priddy said: ‘Earlier in the month we had to announce the delay of our departure due to an irrevocable safety problem with the two stern hull plates. This has now been rectified and the new plates will arrive shortly, allowing the plating of the hull to be completed.

‘Once in place, we can turn the hull over and slide the engines, Castoldi jets and fuel tanks into place, before craning into place the wheelhouse.

‘Then we can start on the kit out, including installing the high tech communications and navigation equipment from industry leaders Raymarine.’

The boat is now expected to be launched in the water in late November, before undertaking an extended programme of sea trials.

Mr Priddy said: ‘This is a great news for the project and I want to thank my whole team, both on board and shore based – especially Aalco and the Aluminium Boatbuilding Company for their unstinting efforts in making sure we have the very best boat.’

The boat was designed by Professor Bob Cripps, former technical director of VT Halmatic. It has been designed to slice the waves, rather than surfing them.

It reduces fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent and should make the trip smoother.

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