Adventure coming unraveled

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MARCH 20 — A New Zealand man’s bid to set a new round-the-world speed record aboard a 78-foot wave-piercing biodiesel-powered trimaran is in jeopardy after the boat collided with a fishing vessel off Guatemala.

The trimaran, named Earthrace, collided with the 16-foot fishing boat Monday night, news reports say. One of the fishermen is presumed drowned and another was seriously injured.

“It’s been a tragedy — the crew’s shell-shocked,” Earthrace captain Pete Bethune, 41, says in a news report. “We spent most of the night looking for the [missing] guy. He was gone, though. I saw him over where he was, and he’s gone.”

The Earthrace crew contacted the U.S. embassy after Guatemalan authorities failed to respond to a number of its calls for assistance, news reports say. Guatemalan Coast Guard officials arrived hours later and transported the injured fisherman to a hospital for treatment.

As of Monday Bethune and his crew remained aboard Earthrace, which was docked at a Navy compound in San Jose, Guatemala. “We are waiting for all the necessary paperwork and clearance and we will decide what we will do from there,” Bethune says in a report.

This is the latest setback in Bethune’s record bid. The Earthrace crew set off March 6 from Barbados and hoped to circumnavigate the globe in less than 65 days to beat the 75-day record set by British Cable and Wireless Adventurer in 1998. Sixteen hours later, the boat’s carbon-fiber props began to disintegrate, say reports. Earthrace reportedly had only one working engine at the time of the accident.

Jason Fell