FRESH recruits have been hired by ocean racing legend Alan Priddy in hopes of drumming up cash to fund his delayed round-the-world powerboat record attempt.
The Portsmouth sailing ace has been battling for four years to get the ambitious project in the water.
The plan, led by his squad Team Britannia which is made up of maritime experts and veterans, has been blighted by delays and financial difficulties.
Initially, when the bid was announced in January 2015, it was hoped Dr Priddy’s hi-tech vessel would be ready by October that year.
But setback after setback pushed this date later and later, with team officials now hopeful they can hit the October window this year.
Team Britannia is understood to be in talks to secure a major sponsorship deal that will help to fund the final piece of the puzzle.
However, The News understands discussions between the project and the potential investor have hit a stumbling block and are taking longer than hoped to agree.
Now, Dr Priddy has revealed three new people who have joined the team, whose jobs will see them working across Europe, America and China in a bid to scoop lucrative international sponsorship offers.
Among them include Fareham woman Renee Shuyan Lu who is the director of the Amber Rose Consultancy, an expert in Anglo-Chinese relations.and is the vice-chairman and general secretary of the UK Portsmouth Chinese Association and HeNan Association.
She will become director of Chinese operations and will be on the hunt for sponsorship deals in the eastern powerhouse as well as staging media facilities.
She is joined by Florida-based sailor Andy Haffenden and Yorkshire man Christopher Piearcey – who now lives in Italy – who have been appointed directors of north America and central and southern Europe, respectively.
Dr Priddy said: ‘I know all three of these people and their many personal and business qualities that they will bring to our exciting and ambitious project.
‘It has been a long and drawn out process to get here with some unfortunate delays, which were beyond our control, but our superboat is nearing completion.
‘All of the fabrication has been finished, fitting out has started and just a small amount of welding remains in the wheelhouse.
‘So this seemed like the ideal time to turbo charge our growing team with a trio of key appointments.
‘They will act as the main contact point with our growing network of partners and supporters in, north America, China and central and southern Europe.’
Work on the 20-tonne, 80ft superboat Excalibur is taking place at Dr Priddy’s base on Hayling Island.
A small amount of welding is still needed for the cabin before the miles of cabling for the boat can be installed.
The next major milestone will be the commissioning of the vessel’s two mighty engines that will power Excalibur’s 26,000-mile voyage.
Dr Priddy added: ‘We are getting close to announcing when the boat will hit the water and a timetable for the round the world record attempt, which could see us setting nearly two dozen records.’
The current powerboat round-the-world record of 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes is held by New Zealander, Pete Bethune.