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Tenacious crew carries on

MAY 18 — The crew of a wave-piercing biodiesel-powered trimaran has decided to make San Diego its new official start/stop point for its problem-filled attempt to set a new round-the-world speed record.

The 78-foot Earthrace set off from San Diego April 7, and her crew hopes to return in less than 2-1/2 months to beat the 75-day record set by British Cable and Wireless Adventurer in 1998. The alternative start point was chosen after record attempt was held up more than 18 days due to various complications.

“This is quite achievable if the boat has a good run from here,” Earthrace’s skipper, 41-year-old New Zealander Pete Bethune, says on the project's Web site.

The circumnavigation originally kicked off March 10 from Barbados, according to information on the site. During the first leg west to Panama — only hours after getting under way — Earthrace’s carbon fiber prop began to disintegrate and the crew lost two days making repairs.

On March 18, during the second leg from Panama to Acapulco, Mexico, Earthrace collided with a fishing skiff off Guatemala, killing one fisherman and injuring another. Bethune and his crew were detained on a naval compound there for 10 days before a judge ruled that the collision was an accident. From Guatemala, Bethune pushed Earthrace to San Diego for six days to repair a number of mechanical problems related to the accident.

“If there are any further significant delays in the next few legs then we will finish in Barbados and know we gave it our best shot,” Bethune says on the site.

As of Wednesday, Earthrace had departed Singapore for Cochin, India, and was making good time, the Web site says.

Jason Fell