Earthrace is in trouble again

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New Zealander Pete Bethune, his crew and his revolutionary biofueled 78-foot trimaran Earthrace are limping along in the Pacific Ocean after their 30,000 psi fuel line burst during the 2,200-nautical-mile leg from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands, according a report posted May 26 on www.earthrace.net.

Bethune is attempting to break the 75-day record for circumnavigating the world set by the British boat Cable and Wireless in 1998, according to their site. Now halfway around the world with 11,971 nautical miles under their belts, the crew is traveling at an average of 15 knots and is 2,111 miles ahead of the record even with one engine, according to the report. They arrived on the island of Majuro, where engineers were waiting to make repairs to the engine.

This is not the first problem during the record attempt. Roughly 24 hours after departing from Sagunto,Spain April 27 the crew lost the use of its autopilot hydraulic pump and had to manually steer. In addition, 13 gallons of biodiesel flooded the crew’s sleeping quarters because of a leak in the inspection hatch on the main fuel tank. Not that this comes as a surprise. Bethune attempted to make this same voyage in 2007, but was hampered by numerous problems, including a fouled engine and a cracked hull.

The crew is hopeful the repairs will not delay the race too long. For information, visit www.earthrace.net

— Elizabeth Ellis