ARSONISTS nearly destroyed a powerboat built by legendary sailor Alan Priddy ahead of his world record attempt.
The Southsea sailor is in the middle of building a 90ft powerboat he plans to take around the world to snatch his 38th world record.
But after months of hard work and delicate planning, it almost came to an abrupt end when the factory unit housing the boat was the target of an arson attack.
The fire, at the Micklewright factory in Dudley, was so intense it melted steel girders in the building surrounding the boat.
But the vessel, named Accomplish More, was thankfully unscathed.
Mr Priddy said: ‘My heart sank when I heard what had happened.
‘I thought I would have to start all over again.
‘But we always said we were going to build the toughest boat in the world and it wasn’t an idle phrase.
‘I was elated when I finally heard the boat was unharmed.
‘It’s put us behind a bit but it could have been a lot worse.’
The boat suffered from some smoke damage and has been covered in a layer of soot.
Two vehicles in a nearby factory unit were completely melted by the blaze.
The factory unit had previously been used for painting and it is thought years of flammable materials sinking into the walls and floor acted as an accelerant.
The building remains sealed by arson investigators trying to piece together how it was started.
Until they complete their investigation, Mr Priddy and his team cannot carry on with work on the boat.
The 58-year-old will take Accomplish More around the globe to win the record for the fastest powerboat circumnavigation of the world.
The world record is held by New Zealander Peter Bethuen after his voyage in 2008.
He completed the 24,000-mile journey in 60 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes.
But Mr Priddy has vowed his team can do it in 50 days with their custom-designed and built powerboat.
Three other racers will join him on his attempt including British champion Shelley Jory-Leigh.
They intend to set off on November 3.