Biofueled custom boat is fastest around the planet

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Despite a leaking fuel tank, a cracked hull and a number of mechanical failures, New Zealander Pete Bethune’s biofueled — and some would say cursed — 78-foot trimaran named Earthrace accomplished its goal of beating the record for fastest circumnavigation of the globe in a powerboat, according to a recent press release.

Earthrace arrived in the Spanish port of Sagunto June 27 at 12:24 GMT, almost 61 days since it set off, according to the report. Bethune and his crew shaved 14 days off the previous record held by the British boat Cable and Wireless in 1998, which completed the journey in 75 days.

However, the record-breaking run was nearly cut short when Bethune and his crew were almost forced to abandon ship after Earthrace crashed into some logs in the surf off Borneo, damaging the rudder, propeller and drive shaft. Earlier in the trip they handled a malfunctioning autopilot hydraulic pump and a leaky fuel tank.

“This fantastic team of people and our astonishing boat have broken the record by a massive margin,” said Bethune in the release. “I finally feel that all the sacrifices made, especially by my wife and daughters, have been worth it. I don’t even know how to begin to thank all the individuals and companies that have supported us along the way.”

Bethune’s aborted previous attempt at the record began in March 2007 when he left from Barbados. That attempt saw a fouled engine, various mechanical failures and a deadly collision with an unlit fishing boat off Guatemala, killing one of the three men on board. His crew was held for 10 days in the country before being absolved and reportedly paying money to the victim’s family. For information, visit www.earthrace.net

-Elizabeth Ellis