Progress on Alan Priddy’s 80ft powerboat Excalibur unveiled at Team Britannia open day

SAILORS determined to beat a world record have given their backers a behind-the-scenes insight into their new 80ft powerboat.

Monday, 21st January 2019, 8:53 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:05 pm
Alan Priddy in the engine house of Excalibur. Picture: Vernon Nash (190119-007)

Investors got the chance to see Team Britannia's Excalibur on Saturday as the collective held an open day at its boathouse on Hayling Island.

Led by ocean racer Alan Priddy, a crew of 16 will board the aluminium vessel to attempt a 23,000-nautical-mile circumnavigation of the globe in under 60 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes in the next year.

If successful, they will beat the UIM record currently held by New Zealander Pete Bethume – but they must seal about £4.8m of funding first. 

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Team Britannia members and supporters on the fore deck of Excalibur.Left to right: Steve Mason, Alan Priddy, Tracy Gladman, Alistair Thompson, Clive Tully, John Gladman and Mark Cornforth (Maktec Marine). Picture: Vernon Nash (190119-010)

A top-five investor among those who have footed £2million toward the world record attempt so far, Rod Manson got the chance to see Excalibur for the first time at the open day.

‘I’ve seen plenty of pictures on the internet but this is the first time I’ve visited and I’m very impressed with it,’ he said. 

‘It is considerably bigger than I expected and the quality of the welding is fantastic. 

‘I’m looking forward very much to the launch and the sea trials.’

At the open day revellers were welcomed on board Excalibur and told of the plans for her interior fitting – including spacious bunk beds for crew and VIPs, seating and a galley.

At least one more deal was done on the day and promising negotiations to secure funding elsewhere continue. 

Mr Priddy, Team Britannia’s primary investor, said: ‘Our ultimate goal when we started this project was to beat that world record and we must never lose sight of that. 

‘We are pleased to say for a company we are negotiating with that is the primary target.

‘They are only interested in number one and they’ve just had four lorries in the Dakar Rally – and they weren’t racing for second place.’ 

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As previously reported crowds gathered when 20-tonne Excalibur was turned on September 5, 2018 using a crane, to enable work on her to continue. 

Among the revellers on that day was Richard Hunt, an amputee and former Royal Navy radar operator who will serve during the world record bid as an assistant boatswain. 

The conditions he and his colleagues will face in sea trials to prepare them, Mr Priddy said at the weekend, will be tough. 

‘I’m going to put them through the worst of the worst to start with then it can only get better,’ he said. 

‘There’s a saying an old, salty sea dog told me many, many years ago – if you leave in a storm it’ll only get better. Anybody can boat in good weather – it’s when it all goes bad you have to draw on your resources.’ 

During their record attempt, Excalibur’s crew will also test particles of plastic from seawater and the air in a study geared at highlighting the pollution’s effects on the wear of boats. 

UIM rules dictate Excalibur must pass through the Suez and Panama Canals on its journey, which is expected to begin in Gibraltar later this year.