Ocean race record bid leaps ahead

The boat being turned
The boat being turned
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EFFORTS to bring a boating world record back to home shores have taken a ‘huge step’ after a painstaking lifting operation.

Ocean racer Alan Priddy watched on yesterday as his 20-tonne powerboat Excalibur was lifted by crane, turned 180 degrees and slid back into place.

The nail-biting rejig means work to complete the vessel at the Hayling Island-based Aluminium Boatbuilding Company can now continue – before it is launched for trials.

It will then embark on a 23,000 nautical mile circumnavigation of the globe, in a bid to topple New Zealander Pete Bethune’s UIM world record of 60 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes.

Mr Priddy, is heading up Team Britannia’s effort.

‘This is a massive step toward that world record,’ Mr Priddy said.

‘Until now, I have not seen how big the boat really is - it hasn’t been photographable for about two months because it’s so large and it’s been in a restrictive area.

‘But today we can see its true size, and it really is substantial – in design too.’

Measuring in at 80 feet long, Excalibur’s size meant part of the Hayling factory in which it sits had to be deconstructed to enable a turn.

When it is launched, just over half of the marine-grade aluminium boat will be underwater, with an inflatable collar sitting on the surface.

And despite its centre of gravity never before being calculated until yesterday’s operation, crane firm GM lifting said the task was ‘not particularly difficult’ – though it was a gripping feat for onlookers. 

One of those was amputee and former Royal Navy radar operator Richard Hunt.

He was brought on as one of Excalibur’s future crew members two years ago.

‘This is a huge labour of love for me,’ the 48-year-old said.

‘To see the boat’s full size is fascinating and I cannot wait to get started with that world record attempt now.’ 

As per UIM regulations, the record attempt, Mr Priddy and his crew must pass through the Suez and Panama Canals, cross the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator.

They must start and finish the journey in the same place as they take on the record attempt.

The record bid is expected to take place next year.