A WORLD-RECORD bid is to be launched which could bring 300 jobs and secure long-term commercial boatbuilding for the Portsmouth area worth tens of millions of pounds.
The News can reveal that Alan Priddy, from Portsmouth, is building a superboat to circumnavigate the world in around 53 days – beating the current record of 60 days.
Work to build the boat is expected to start this autumn in Hayling, with the record attempt starting on November 1, 2015.
Mr Priddy, one of Britain’s most successful powerboat sailors, believes the job creation and benefits to tourism in the area could bring up to £16m into the local economy between now and the world-record attempt.
And the long-term benefits would be even greater, with the adventurer hoping the publicity gained from the record bid will secure commercial orders from around the world for similar boats.
He intends for those to be built in Portsmouth – which would bring millions of pounds into the economy each year.
Mr Priddy, who started working on the idea four years ago, said: ‘We have kept it as British as possible apart from a few bits. It is all about Portsmouth and all about shipbuilding.
‘I think shipbuilding is an integral part of Portsmouth, but I think it needs to diversify, and I think that what we have got fits in really nicely.
‘We have got a unique design and we are going to take it around the world.
‘The world-record bid will bring jobs to the area and put money into the economy.
‘But the aim is for others to stand up and take notice and lead to a commercial operation where boats can be built in Portsmouth. That has the potential to bring tens of thousands of pounds and hundreds of jobs. The world record is an advertising programme, showing the boat is the best in the world. We see it as being a product that we can export.’
Mr Priddy has recently secured additional financial backing for the torpedo boat which will circumnavigate the globe. He says more than 3,000 people are expected to be involved in the venture directly and indirectly once commercial operation begins in 2016.
The building of the competition vessel in the next few weeks will see 25 new jobs created, while another 250 will be directly employed from the commercial venture.
Mr Priddy already has 100 people working to get the privately-backed project off the ground.
The boat being built for the round-the-world record attempt will cost £3.8m and Mr Priddy says it will be built by ABC Marine in Mill Rythe Lane, Hayling Island.
A boatyard has not yet been decided on for the commercial venture but it is anticipated that ABC Marine will be playing a large part in this part of the project.
The world record attempt is anticipated to begin on November 1 next year, and is expected to take between 40 to 50 days
It will stop at 10 countries around the world for refuelling including Panama, Honolulu and Singapore.
The boats are aimed at a number of markets, including the luxury leisure sector as well as rescue and military support services.
Mr Priddy continued: ‘We have concentrated on keeping people in employment.
‘There are plenty of small marine businesses in the area employing small numbers of staff.
‘If this reaches full potential, we will be employing around 250 people directly.
‘Penny Mordaunt has been a really big support to us.’
Mr Priddy added: ‘I tried to break the record in 2002 in a much smaller boat.
‘We got a lot of world records on that run but my brother-in-law had a heart attack and we aborted the three-year project.’
‘Cutting-edge plan is a real status project’
PORTSMOUTH North MP Penny Mordaunt has been supporting Alan Priddy’s plans to take a powerboat around the world in record timing.
Earlier in the year, Ms Mordaunt hosted a dinner in the Houses of Parliament for potential financial backers.
The name of those backers will be announced at an event in London next month.
Ms Mordaunt told The News: ‘The plan is very exciting. Alan is such an ambassador for this country.
‘I think what he is doing helps play in to the brand that we are trying to create, of Portsmouth being at the centre of the marine industry.
‘It is going to create all sorts of opportunities.
‘It is really cutting-edge stuff and really high profile.
‘It is a real status project.
Ms Mordaunt has been working on ways to secure commercial shipbuilding in Portsmouth since BAE announced last year it would be moving its naval shipbuilding operation to Scotland.
‘I have been involved in helping to secure investment for Alan’s project,’ said Ms Mordaunt.
‘I think it will increase tourism to the city.
‘I will carry on supporting him.’
Mr Priddy’s bid has also received support from the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.
Maureen Frost, Hampshire Chamber deputy chief executive, said: ‘Boatbuilding has long been synonymous with Portsmouth but so has entrepreneurial spirit.
‘Combining the two in this way is both imaginative and impressive.
‘We wish Alan every success as he takes this record-breaking attempt forward with the consequent benefits for jobs in our area and a further boost to our visitor economy.’
Record has long been a dream for sailing great
ALAN Priddy has already beaten 37 world records on the sea.
But this latest attempt is something he says he has been dreaming of his whole life.
The circumvention record attempt is not a new project; the team started work on another boat in 2012 but it had to be scrapped.
Alan, who was born and raised in Portsmouth, said: ‘It is something I started doing in my spare time and it grew so much.
‘We have never given up on it.
‘We have travelled the world to find people to work on our brand.
‘It was an incredible amount of effort to get to this stage.
‘The first boat we built was nearly finished but it was subject to a fire that was in the building next door to it.
‘We had specialists looking at it and we realised we may have got our original designs wrong.
‘That was nearly a year’s work that we scrapped.’
Working with different designers and experts, the boat has changed in a number of ways. The plan has also been extended to include the commercial boatbuilding venture.
It is hoped the new design can assist navies, coastguards and be used by civilians around the world.
Mr Priddy completed a circumnavigation of the world by yacht in 2008.
Dozens of businesses already helping out
DOZENS of different companies from across the country are involved in the project already – including many from the Portsmouth area.
Mr Priddy said: ‘We have already got 100 people working on this.
‘There are all sorts of businesses helping out with the project. I don’t think there is a marine company in the city that is not helping us in some way.’
Sarah Stanton, director of Stanton Burdett, which provides strategic and operational project management for the UK’s marine and defence sectors, said: ‘We have been supporting Alan looking at the options to utilise local skills and build the vessel in the area.’
Tony Simmonds, owner of Fuzion Foods in Milton, will be providing freeze-dried foods such as chicken tikka masala and beef bourguignon for the crew.
He said: ‘It’s great for us to be involved. It is a local product and he is a local person putting this project together.
‘Alan has tried out the food a few times over the years.’
Gary Smith, owner of Mig Tig Arc Welding Supplies in Milton, will be providing machinery and supplies for the welding of the boat.
‘We have been working together from the start,’ he said.
‘We are chuffed to be taking part. It gives us a bit more credibility as a business and gets us known.’
New Milton company Offshore Systems UK Ltd have designed the inside control and monitoring systems for the project.
Bruce Coward, managing director, said: ‘It is an ambitious project and I am glad we are involved.’
OTHER LOCAL BUSINESSES INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT INCLUDE:
- ABC Marine in Hayling Island, which is building the boat;
- Longitude Marine in Exeter, which has designed the boat;
- Furneaux Riddall Ltd in Hilsea has supplied electrical items;
- McMurdo in Airport Service Road has also been involved;
- Alistair Thompson of MIPPR Promotion, who is a Portsmouth City Council member, has been a consultant for the project.
To read The News’ view on this click here.