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Green machine may run again

SEPT. 20 — New Zealander Pete Bethune is once again trying to race around the world in Earthrace, his eco-friendly power boat, hoping to beat the 75-day record by 10 days.

The mission was abandoned as of May 30 this year when a 4-foot crack in the main hull of his 78-foot trihull made the mission impossible, but with backing from British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, the boat could find itself back on course, according to news reports.

Branson has yet to pledge cash for the Earthrace project, but if he does Bethune says he will be able to continue his dream. He has already borrowed $600,000 on the venture.

Earthrace also collided with a fishing boat off Guatemala in March, killing a fisherman and a causing crack in the heat exchanger, according to an article in the August issue of Soundings.

“We’re certainly looking at this as a possible project to get involved in and fund — it’s extremely worthwhile,” said Branson to The Press Association after taking a spin on the boat Monday along the ThamesRiver in London. “I’m a big supporter of biofuels and I think it’s important to raise awareness of how efficient they are.”

Bethune and a crew of four plan to begin their 24,000-mile journey from Malaga, Spain, in March of next year, according to The Press Association.

Earthrace is powered by a pair of 540-hp Cummins MerCruiser diesels that run on 100-percent biodiesel and can carry 2,500 gallons of fuel for a 3,000-mile range. For more information, visit

— Elizabeth Ellis