HOPES of bringing a round-the-globe powerboat racing record to Portsmouth have been dealt a bitter blow.
Ocean racing legend Alan Priddy has revealed he is delaying his 23,000-mile voyage because of a technical problem with his boat’s two stern hull plates.
This is a hard day for the project and everyone involved with itAlan Priddy
The issue was only discovered last week and means Mr Priddy and his Team Britannia crew will not be able to set sail on October 23 because the plates will need to be recut.
He said: ‘This is a hard day for the project and everyone involved with it – more than 100 men and women.
‘I have been living and breathing this project for five years and we were flying. The boat was taking shape and everything was on track for the start later this month.
‘All the kit and equipment we needed is on site waiting to be installed, including the engines, Castoldi jets and hi-tech communications and navigation equipment from industry leaders Raymarine.
‘Having been advised that it could take several weeks before the new plates to arrive, other work has had to stop, so I have reluctantly taken the decision to delay the record bid until early next year.’
Mr Priddy has previously said the record bid would bring a boom to Portsmouth, pumping in millions into the city’s famous shipbuilding industry.
But he now expects the boat to be launched sometime in November.
This means the team will miss the crucial weather window, as they need to first complete extensive sea trials before tackling the journey.
While no firm date has been set, Mr Priddy and his team are talking to weather experts, who suggest the next window for the record attempt will be in early 2017.
Mr Priddy added: ‘We always knew that there was always the possibility of a delay – after all we are building a boat that will have to stand up to the toughest imaginable conditions, so it is vital to get the boat 100 per cent right before we set off.’
The sleek boat has been designed to slice through the waves rather than riding on top of them.
Inside, it is equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art engines, radar, safety and communication equipment.
To complete the record attempt, the boat must pass through the Suez and Panama Canals, cross the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, as well as starting and finishing in the same place.