Race around the world on biofuel

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After being waylaid for almost a year, one of the world’s most unique boats is back in the running.

New Zealander Pete Bethune, skipper of his custom 78-foot biofueled trimaran named Earthrace, has undertaken another attempt to break the 75-day record for circumnavigating the world set by the British boat Cable and Wireless in 1998, according to an article on Stuff.co.nz.

Bethune left from the Vulkan Shipyard in Sagunto,Spain, on April 27 at 2:30 p.m. with a five-person crew. He wants to prove that biofuel is a viable source of energy for the future, despite the recent criticism it has received, according to the report. Earthrace runs solely on biofuel, and is commonly called the “Batman” boat by spectators due to its silvery gray hulls that come out like wings from the central body of the boat. The design is built for speed, the hulls designed to pierce waves, according to the report.

Bethune had a tough year in 2007. After the triumphant departure of Earthrace in Barbados on March 10 there were significant delays due to problems with the propellers, and the engine was fouled by some bad biofuel in India. On the night of March 19, Earthrace collided with an unlit local fishing boat off Guatemala, killing one of the three fishermen on board. The crew was held in the country for 10 days before being absolved. The delays cost Bethune time, so he decided to start the race over from San Diego on April 7 but it was called off when a crack was found in the hull.

“We are much better prepared in terms was what to expect, much better equipped to deal with things as they come up,” said Bethune in the report.

For more information on the trip and to track Earthrace, visit www.earthrace.net Visitors to the site can also take a digital tour of the boat as well.