Posts Tagged ‘world record’

Getting wider

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Friday 6th and Saturday 7th December saw another landmark moment in the Team Britannia round the world powerboat Excalibur’s construction – she gained an extra two metres in width! Fitting the inflatable tubes (also known as collars or sponsons) was backbreaking work carried out in horrendous weather. Why not wait until a sunny day? It had been planned some time in advance to take advantage of the tide times – depending on which side of the boat is being worked on dictates which side of the dock she has to be moored, and once floated over, we then have to wait for the tide to go out and for the boat to settle in the mud before the heavy work begins.

With the coated material sponsored by Orca, the tubes were assembled for us by Henshaw Inflatables Ltd (Wing). Each one is 19 metres long, weighing 250 kilos, so just manhandling them was a major effort! There are 116 fixing bolts per tube, all of which had to be drilled, tapped and special inserts fitted into the hull to accommodate the bolts. After floating the boat over to the opposite pontoon, Alan Priddy, Elliott Berry and John Garner braved the pouring rain and howling gale to fit the starboard tube. “To say it was a struggle is an understatement,” says Alan. Meanwhile, we also had a working party inside the boat – Steve Mason and Alan Goodwin completed the two two-berth cabins at the rear of the wheelhouse before moving on to the stairwell and front cabin.

After a night spent on board, which included sampling some of Team Britannia’s excellent freeze-dried meals, the boat was floated back over to the other side of the dock for the port tube to be fitted. With Elliott Berry’s place taken on Saturday by Andy Reid, they managed to get finished late afternoon just before a storm came in and the light went. We also had a steady stream of visitors, including Dave Stanway, one of our competition prize winners. We should add that corporate sponsorship opportunities for Team Britannia and Excalibur’s round the world record attempt are still available, so if you or anyone you know might be interested, please do get in touch.

The Big Red Boat

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

With a week to go until her scheduled launching, things have been moving swiftly at the boatyard where Team Britannia‘s round the world powerboat Excalibur is being finished off. The last couple of weeks or so have seen fairly painstaking work, filling and fairing the hull – filling in any minor dips and smoothing out any lumps. This week the lower section of hull has had its first coat of antifoul, while the upper part has been wrapped.

In a process often used with powerboats, the hull has been encased in sheets of what Blue Peter might describe as “sticky back plastic.” It makes for a superb durable finish, and achieved in a fraction of the time it would take to paint.

The wheelhouse and superstructure will receive its wrap early next month, once we’ve taken delivery of the special glass being used to make Excalibur’s windows. At that point, the boat will be in the water. In the meantime, the end of this week sees the massive Castoldi jet drives installed again for the last time. There’s still a lot to do to get the boat ready for its first sea trials, but we’re definitely getting there.

Excalibur: the clock is ticking

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Since the completion of all major welding on Team Britannia‘s round the world powerboat Excalibur, attention has turned to getting her ready for launching, and at the time of writing, that’s scheduled to take place at the end of September. While the below waterline antifouling is now going to be paint, the rest of the hull and wheelhouse will be wrapped in a bright red vinyl. Even so, preparation remains the same, with every square inch of hull being faired and filled in order to remove high spots and fill shallow areas to even up the surface. It’s all about providing the least resistance to movement through water, and of course to present the best finish aesthetically. The last few days have seen Alan Priddy, Wayne Priddy and Steve Mason hard at work, helped by willing volunteers.

“Using a grinding machine is a physically demanding job,” says Alan. “It’s important that the visible sections of the boat are as close to perfection without grinding down the thickness of the metal.” With the top part of the hull finished, Steve Mason set about painting the more intricate parts which can’t be covered by the bright red wrap.

Further work on the boat will be needed after launching before she’s ready to commence sea trials, but at least people will see her in all her glory, and realise that when we say we’re going to do something, we do it! It might even persuade one or two potential sponsors to jump off the fence and commit to supporting us.

Coming soon to an ocean near you

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

I’m rather mindful of the fact that recent progress updates on Team Britannia’s round the world powerboat project have been largely the same: “By the time you read this, Excalibur will be afloat.” And then of course it isn’t. And while completion of the boat has not been without its delays due simply to the fact that we’re building a one-off which departs from the norm in both design and construction, the bottom line has been – as you might expect – money. Fortunately we have a lot of supporters who’ve maintained faith in the project, and while lean times have forced us to suspend building operations every so often, it has only ever been temporary.

A summer resumption of activity in the boatyard has seen the hull and wheelhouse finished off, with just the transom to fit to make the boat watertight. Then comes the exciting part where the boat is wrapped – bright red for her topsides, and black below the waterline using a special hydrophobic antifoul material. We’ve also hosted a number of open days this year to which members of the public, supporters and partners were invited, and they’ve been well attended – even when the weather hasn’t been up to much. But the reaction from everyone that sees Excalibur for the first time is pretty much the same: “Wow, it’s big!” And visitors with boating or engineering backgrounds all remark upon the quality of the construction and attention to detail.

We’ve also made it easier for people to become involved by launching a competition on our website, with two crew places per round the world record leg as main prizes, and short trips out in the boat for runners-up. And even if the idea of a trip on the boat seems less than appealing, each entry is rewarded with 25 shares in Clean Fuel Ltd. Their pollution-busting technology forms a cornerstone of the entire project, and has the potential to clean up internal combustion engines without any mechanical modifications, so everyone’s a winner. Once Excalibur is in the water and operating from her base in Gibraltar, with a projected attempt in 2020, that round the world record may finally be on its way back to Britain.

Win with Team Britannia

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

My last visit to Team Britannia‘s round the world powerboat Excalibur at her boatyard was back in January, when the weather was somewhat icy. The latest open day at the end of March saw rather more pleasant conditions, and a great turnout of visitors. It’s always interesting to get people’s impressions, particularly from those who have followed the project closely, but only previously seen photographs. Everyone remarks on the size of the boat, something which photographs of her in the cramped boat shed really can’t convey.

Apart from giving visitors a guided tour around the boat, we also used the open day to launch a new facet to the project, something which has consumed a fair amount of time over the last few weeks. We now have a prize competition, with a £25 ticket potentially winning a place in the crew for one of the legs around the world, with a hundred other prizes of short trips out in the boat after the circumnavigation.

And while you might think the odds of winning such a special prize are slim, the truth is that everyone is a winner, as each entry also gets 25 shares in Clean Fuel Ltd, whose pollution-busting fuel will power Excalibur around the world. In fact, if you’re interested in combating the Nitrous Oxides and Particulate Matter which form the awful traffic-generated pollution in our towns and cities, your support for Team Britannia and Clean Fuel will make a big difference.

Progress at the boatyard

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

This photo of Team Britannia‘s round the world powerboat Excalibur caused a bit of a stir when it first appeared on Facebook. Was it Halloween? Evidence of Excalibur’s sharp edge? In fact it’s a special red dye used by our boatbuilders to check the quality of the welds, here along the position of two bulkheads.

And while the views inside the hull, steadily filling up with fuel tanks and bulkheads, look impressive, this above-deck shot with crew member Steve Mason standing through the deck on top of one of the forward fuel tanks conveys the real scale of the boat. It’s going to look even bigger when the wheelhouse and inflatable tubes are in place!

Round the world powerboat

Monday, August 4th, 2014

I haven’t posted anything about the round the world powerboat project for some time, because there hasn’t been anything to say. We did have a close shave earlier on this year when we thought we finally had funding for the project, but while the people themselves were very nice, it wasn’t the right deal for us. Since then, project leader Alan Priddy has been extremely busy with a string of negotiations, culminating with some good news.

At long last we have a main backer, which means it won’t be too long before we start building our amazing Professor Bob Cripps designed boat. I can’t tell you the name of the backer at the moment, because they won’t be announcing it themselves for a few weeks. And with a six month building programme, it does mean we’re not going to make a spring 2015 attempt on the record, so it has to shift back to November next year. On the plus side, it will allow extra time for sea trials and ironing out any wrinkles before the world record trip.

Hopefully the build will have already started by the time our backers make their announcement, and then the updates will be coming thick and fast. In the meantime, if you want to join us on this momentous voyage, you can do so via Faceboat.

Confronting Poseidon

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Twelve years ago on the 7th April, I set off from Gibraltar with Alan Priddy into the Mediterranean on the 33ft powerboat Spirit of Cardiff. It was an attempt to break what was then the 75 day record for circumnavigating the world. It turned into an epic voyage over three months, with the first major problem hitting us (quite literally) at the end of the very first leg of the trip. We made a night approach into Valletta in Malta, and ran into an unlit and unmapped fish farm. From there, we experienced shocking corruption as we made our transit of the Suez Canal, and our first encounters with pirates at the southern end of the Red Sea, and again in the Gulf of Aden.

We had numerous mechanical problems. Apart from replacing a £30,000 gearbox and outdrive in Malta as a result of the tangle with the fish farm, we had to have a further two replacements as a result of burning out the clutches – a consequence of overheating through running 24 hours a day in tropical conditions with low grade fuel. And I’ll never forget our night arrival at Galle harbour in Sri Lanka, where my calling across to a guy on a nearby boat resulted in him unslinging his AK47 and aiming it directly at me. It’s a strange sensation looking down the barrel of a gun when you know the safety catch is off! Then there was the moment we arrived at a port in the far east of Russia to be placed under “house arrest” the moment we tied up.

Needless to say we didn’t break the record for circumnavigating the world, but we did have the most incredible adventure trying. It made for a pretty good TV documentary, and an even better book. “Confronting Poseidon” was released last year on Amazon Kindle – when it was published in print in 2002, it was hailed as a major contribution to marine journalism, and was nominated for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award 2003. I know quite a few people who found it so difficult to put down they had to read it in one long sitting – sometimes throughout the night. That’s quite a compliment for me, and quite a recommendation for anyone else looking to read about the first major maritime adventure of this century.

Alan Priddy and I will be making another attempt on the fastest ever circumnavigation of the world by sea in the not too distant future. Hopefully the trip won’t be as eventful as the one we did in 2002, but you never know! In the meantime, read about my epic voyage around the world on Spirit of Cardiff in “Confronting Poseidon”. Click here to download your copy.

Memoirs of a Record-Breaker

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

My portfolio of Kindle publications has been added to with another book about the powerboat Spirit of Cardiff. And while my books “Confronting Poseidon” and “Blogging all over the world” might best be regarded as concentrating on the actual experience of round the world powerboating, “Memoirs of a Record-Breaker” reminds us that Spirit of Cardiff actually amassed more official UIM world records than any other boat in history.

Told through five full-length features originally written for newspapers and magazines, it traces the three attempts at the Round British Isles record, the 2001 New York to Lizard Point transatlantic (the record for which still stands, 12 years on), around the world in 2002, and the final transatlantic in 2003 which set an unofficial record for the fastest ever transatlantic in a RIB (which came after the events covered in “Confronting Poseidon”).

On sale in Amazon UK for a miserly 77p, “Memoirs of a Record-Breaker” makes perfect reading for anyone interested in boating, adventure, or indeed those who appreciate the philosophy of never giving up!

Now it’s more than just a record

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Regular readers of my blog will know that back in May, the factory where Alan Priddy’s round the world superboat Accomplish More is being built was attacked by arsonists. The unit next to the one housing the boat was completely gutted, but at the time, we were led to believe that the boat itself had sustained no damage, and that therefore we could carry on with the construction. It was while the main fuel tank was being tested that Alan’s suspicions were aroused, and after a metallurgy inspection, it was confirmed that parts of the hull had lost up to 50% of its strength as a result of heating during the fire.

The news came as a real kick in the teeth, but the only option available to us was to scrap the boat and start again. With no further capacity at Micklewrights in Dudley, we had to look elsewhere for a boat-builder up to the task, and were fortunate to find ABC Marine on Hayling Island, conveniently just around the corner from Alan Priddy’s base of operations in Portsmouth. They specialise in building aluminium support boats for the offshore wind industry, and with considerably more manpower than we had in Dudley, they’ve said they can produce the hull and wheelhouse in an astonishing 12 weeks. We’ll still be doing the interior fit-out ourselves as originally planned, but the boat will now be scheduled to be in the water by Easter next year.

Of course, the original plan was for us to attempt the round the world record last year, and then as the schedule slipped, this year. We’d known about another planned attempt on the circumnavigation record by the American Ocean’s Quest team for some time, and we’ve been in contact with them over the last few months. Now they’ve challenged us to a race, and we’ve accepted! There’s still an awful lot of detail to sort out, not least another tier of sponsorship to cover the race organisation, but as it stands, the race between Britain and America will begin in November 2013.

It will be the first time ever that a powerboat race around the world has taken place (the current and previous record-holders simply raced against the clock), so without wishing to sound over-dramatic, what we are going to do is definitely one for the history books. And of course, we still aim to bring the circumnavigation world record back to Britain!

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