Injured and wounded veterans have been offered the chance to crew a powerboat to an audacious world record attempt, writes Richard Carr.
Team Britannia are behind the stunt, intending to build and race one of the fastest ocean-going powerboats in history, with the ultimate aim of beating New Zealand skipper Pete Bethune’s record for circumnavigating the globe.
Bethune completed the current record in 2008 in his futuristic Earthrace boat which took an impressive 60 days 23 hours and 49 minutes. The Earthrace later sank during an attempt to disrupt Japan’s annual Antarctic Whale Hunt.
In order to claim the coveted Union Internationale Motonautique, a vessel must “pass through the Suez and Panama Canals, cross the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator and must start and finish the journey in the same place, completing a voyage of around 23,000 miles” according to Forces TV.
Team Britannia aim to complete the voyage in just 50 days, starting in Gibraltar in October. That means the boat, which cost £2.9million, travelling at an average speed of 25mph throughout the trip. The Earthrace travelled at around 15mph during the world record voyage.
A team of 12 will be on board the vessel, including up to four British wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women (WIS) on each of the seven legs of the voyage.
Announcing the move, Alan Priddy said: “Back in 2014 when my team and I first started to talk about bolstering our crew with wounded and injured servicemen and women, we all knew that it was the right thing to do, especially as several of the existing crew have strong ties to the military.
“Even with these life-changing injuries there is still that incredible can-do attitude, their passion and tenacity. We want to harness this as we prepare to take back the round the world powerboat record for Great Britain.”
Funding and support for the WIS crewmembers is being provided from BLESMA, The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s Endeavour Fund.
Priddy continued: “No one should make the mistake of thinking that these men and women will be passengers – we simply don’t have room for passengers. Every crewmember will to do their fair share.”
At present, the 1000hp, 80ft long boat is nameless, but with talks with sponsors progressing it is unlikely the moniker will be chosen by a public vote like Boaty McBoatface.