Dispatches

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A record-breaker's final chapter

Earthrace, the biodiesel-powered multihull that in 2008 broke the record for the fastest powerboat circumnavigation, is now at the bottom of Antarctic waters.

Ady Gil, the former Earthrace, sank two days after colliding with a whaling ship.

The 78-foot wave-piercing trimaran, renamed Ady Gil by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, sank after being struck Jan. 6 by a Japanese whaling vessel.

The Sea Shepherd crew was trying to disrupt the annual whale hunt conducted by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research. The controversial conservationist group says the 172-foot Shonan Maru 2, which it accuses of illegal whaling activities, deliberately rammed Ady Gil, shearing off 8 feet of the bow. The Japanese say the New Zealand-registered trimaran was struck as it pursued its mission of attacking the ship the Japanese refer to as a "whale research vessel."

Ady Gil sank two days after the collision, despite attempts to tow it to a nearby base, according to Sea Shepherd. The group says environmental hazards, including fuel and oil, had been removed.

Capt. Paul Watson, founder of the 28-year-old Washington State-based group and skipper of its mother ship, the Steve Irwin, denied any wrong-doing. "For the last five years, we have conducted high-seas physical opposition to illegal Japanese whaling operations without injuring a single person, without being charged with any crimes, without being charged with any maritime violations," says Watson in a statement.

The six crewmembers aboard Ady Gil were uninjured. Maritime New Zealand says it is investigating the incident, as well as a previous complaint lodged against Ady Gil and Sea Shepherd by the Japanese, who insist the whaling is for research purposes.

Sea Shepherd acquired the former Earthrace last June from Pete Bethune after the New Zealander's circumnavigation record was ratified. Bethune's biodiesel-fueled trihull circled the globe in 60 days, 23 hours, 49 minutes, ending his record-breaking run June 27, 2008, in the Spanish port of Sagunto.

Constructed of carbon fiber and Kevlar and powered by twin 540-hp Cummins MerCruiser engines, the trimaran could run on diesel, biodiesel or blended fuel. Fuel capacity was 2,200 gallons for a range of 3,000 nautical miles. Top speed was 50 knots.

Earthrace was reportedly purchased for $1 million through a donation by Ady Gil, co-owner of a company specializing in constructing production facilities for television programs. The vessel was said to be worth $2 million when it was launched in 2006.

To watch videos of the collision, visit www.SoundingsOnline.com. Keywords: Ady Gil.

-    Lisa Cook

Scout 345SFX designed around cruising and fishing

Scout's new 34-foot center console is the South Carolina builder's second-largest boat. "There seems to be two center console worlds - the hardcore fishing world and the cruising world," says Scout Boats president Steve Potts. "We've married the two worlds with this design."

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With 22 degrees of deadrise at the transom and a relatively narrow hull form (10-foot, 9-inch beam) for this type of boat, the 345SFX will run through the sloppy stuff without excessive pounding, says Potts. "We didn't want to go any beamier and sacrifice ride quality," he says, adding that the boat's stepped hull also softens the ride and reduces drag.

Twin 350-hp Yamaha 4-strokes will power the first few models, and Yamaha's new 300-hp V6 engines will take over when they become available, says Potts. Scout has designed the boat for no more than two engines, he says.

"There are enough builders of center consoles that go north of 70 mph," he says. "We don't want that. That's not our customer."

With twin 350s the boat should top out in the low 60-mph range; with the 300s she'll reach the upper 50s, says Potts. The 345SFX will appease the day-cruising crowd with side-by-side forward-facing foredeck lounge seats and port and starboard bow seating. If you want to relax in the shade, the powered hardtop extends aft. In the console are a galley with sink, refrigerator, microwave, head, shower and a two-person berth.

"There are a lot of wow factors on this boat," says Potts. For instance, the helm seats are covered with a hybrid vinyl and Sunbrella fabric that's more comfortable than conventional upholstery, says Potts.

A bow thruster, generator and air conditioning are options. Pricing was unavailable at press time. Scout expects to introduce the boat at the Feb. 11-15 Miami International Boat Show.

Contact Scout Boats at (843) 821-0068, www.scoutboats.com.

-    Chris Landry

This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue.