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New Zealand-based biofuel powerboat project The Earthrace on track for launch mid February

Tim Costar - 27/01/06

The boat is to be fuelled with 100% biodiesel, a fuel made from renewable sources such as canola and rape and will attempt to set the world record for circumnavigating the globe. to prove to the world that renewable fuels are synonymous with power and performance.

New Zealand-based biofuel powerboat project The Earthrace today announced that construction has re-commenced on and the boat will be officially launched at the Viaduct Auckland on Wednesday 15 February.

Prior to Christmas project founder Pete Bethune announced that the team had been forced to stop work on the project due to lack of funds. Today he confirmed that work has re-started due to a number of key donations. The shortfall of approximately NZ $150 000 has been made up by sponsorship from Biodiesel Oils NZ Ltd worth NZ$50 000 and Panasonic totaling NZ$20 000, along with a contribution from Dubai of US$70 000.

The actual cost of developing the boat proved to be more than anticipated due largely to the complexities involved in developing and constructing such an innovative design. The higher cost of Kevlar and Carbon, in part attributable to the war in Iraq, also contributed to budget overruns.

Bethune says there is now nothing stopping the team from fulfilling their vision of creating the greenest powerboat in the world. As well as using sustainable fuels the Earthrace boat incorporates environmentally friendly technologies such as low emission engines, non-toxic antifoul, efficient hull design and solar powered electronics.

Powered by 100% renewable biodiesel fuel, The Earthrace is being built to attempt the global circumnavigation speed record. Its objective is to raise awareness of alternative fuels such as biodiesel, and to promote sustainable use of resources.

Commenting on today’s announcement Pete Bethune said he is delighted that the project has overcome the final funding hurdle. “There is no better time than now to promote alternative fuel sources. We are now well on the way to completing the first part of this enormous challenge, and I look forward to the next part, which is getting on the water and using this amazing boat to prove to the world that renewable fuels are synonymous with power and performance.”

Bethune thanked all sponsors of the project to date and said he has been overwhelmed with the generosity and support received from the many companies and individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to promoting sustainable fuels and energy efficient design.

Following the launch the boat will commence an 18-month promotional tour, which will visit 60 major cities around the globe to highlight the benefits of renewable fuels. Included with the tour is a 500 person Panasonic Marquee Event Centre that will host schools and corporate events. The record bid will take place during the tour, when weather conditions are deemed most suitable.

More about Earthrace

The Earthrace is an attempt to set the world record for circumnavigating of the globe.

The boat is to be fuelled with 100% biodiesel, a fuel made from renewable sources such as canola and rape.

The current 75-day record is held by British boat Cable and Wireless in 1998, Earthrace aims to complete the race in less than 65 days. It is also the first time in history an official UIM Powerboat record will be attempted using renewable fuel.

The boat has a unique wave piercing hull that allows the boat to pierce through the water rather than riding over the top.

Wave piercing technology was originally formulated for passenger ferry applications, and more recently it has been applied to military craft.

Wave piercing is a key element in getting the record for circumnavigating the globe as it allows the boat to run continuously at high speed in both flat and rough sea conditions.

The Earthrace has been funded to date by sponsorship from more than 200 marine supplies companies who have donated everything from onboard communications gear to high-tech toilets.

The boat will tour New Zealand from mid February through April.

Editor's comment
With the threat of oil supplies running out and the increases in the cost of petrol the project for a boat fuelled with biodiesel is very timely. NZine readers would like to see your views on this topic.
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