Eco-boat on target to beat world record

A team of sailors are attempting to break the powerboat round-the-world record in an environmentally friendly boat powered by biofuels.

Earthrace, which runs on sustainably-produced biodiesel and was made partly from recycled materials and hemp composite, set sail from Spain on April 27 in a bid to smash the current record of 74 days, 23 hours and 53 minutes.

The £1.5m boat left Mexico on Wednesday after refuelling and is now en route to San Diego for its next pit stop before heading out across the Pacific Ocean.

Skipper Pete Bethune auctioned off his home and sold his company to fund production of the boat in a bid to promote debate about the possibilities of biofuels and encourage more people to go green.

From onboard Earthrace, the New Zealander told edie: “I wanted to show the world that being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean you have to give stuff up or be uncool.

“Earthrace is an example of a piece of engineering that is sustainable but which does not skimp on design or performance.

“If we can manage to smash the world record using a sustainable boat that runs on biofuels, imagine what would be possible with cars and other forms of day to day transport.”

Even the smallest details have not escaped Mr Bethune’s eco-eye.

Lubricants on the boat are made from recycled materials, bedding foams are made from canola oil, the underwater paint on the hull is non-toxic, and bilge water is pumped through special filters to remove any oil or hydrocarbon.

Waste is recycled, organic and local foods are eaten on board where possible, and the crew’s clothes are mostly made from hemp and bamboo.

Any CO2 emissions that are produced are being measured and offset through Down With Carbon.

The boat is currently on schedule to complete the race within a 65-day target and Mr Bethune is quietly optimistic about the rest of the race.

“You never know what lies ahead,” he said. “But we’ve got a great team working round the clock to ensure we pull out all the stops and do everything in our power to beat the record.”

You can track Earthrace’s progress on a live satellite tracker here.

Kate Martin

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