The boat is powered by 100% biodiesel, a fuel made from plant matter and animal fats that produces low emissions and is biodegradable. Equipped with two low-emission diesel engines, and built with high-tech composite materials used in military aircraft, the boat has a unique hull designed to slice through waves.
Earthrace is a bid to break the current Union International Motonautique (UIM) powerboat record for an equatorial circumnavigation via the Panama and Suez canals.
Circumnavigating the globe represents the pinnacle of powerboat challenges, and at 24,000 nautical miles, is also the world's longest race. The current record of 75 days was set by British boat Cable & Wireless in 1998. The Earthrace aims to defeat this record by completing the voyage in less than 65 days, and will mark the first time in history that an official UIM powerboat record will be attempted using renewable fuel. The race will begin in Barbados on March 1, 2007.
The Earthrace trimaran was designed by renowned New Zealand naval architect Craig Loomis Design Group and built by Calibre Boats. It is valued at $2.5 million. In order to insure the lowest weight and highest strength possible, the hull is constructed using carbon fiber and kevlar. The boat is powered by 2 standard Cummins Mercruiser Diesel engines. It has a top speed of 40 knots, but for efficiency cruises at 15-20 knots.
Biodiesel fuel produces fewer carbon dioxide, sulphur, and soot emissions, "making for a cleaner burn and sweeter smelling trail from boats," according to the organization's prepared statement to the press. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that can run in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine. The fuel has been used for over 20 years in Europe and is just now being explored as an alternative energy source in the U.S.
Earthrace’s goal, its organizers say, is not to shun lifestyles that use fuel. For more information on Earthrace and to track the voyage, visit earthrace.net.
Length: 78 ft., Beam: 24 ft., Draft: 4 ft., Range: 3000 nautical miles (6000km); Maximum speed: 40 knots (50 MPH); Fuel: B100 Biodiesel (100%); Fuel Capacity: 3000 gallons; Displacement: 13 ton; Construction: Carbon, Kevlar composites; Crew: 4; Beds: 6; Engines: 2 x 350kW (540 hp) Cummins Mercruiser; Gearboxes: ZF 305A (single speed); Air intakes: wings to remain above waves while piercing.
This story was published on November 21, 2006.