Confronting Poseidon

No other journalist has Clive Tully's experience as a world-class offshore powerboater. He was on board the 33ft Rigid Inflatable Boat Spirit of Cardiff for every one of its world record attempts, and is named as a crew member for all of the boat's 30-plus UIM official world records. Confronting Poseidon tells the story of how he fared on its circumnavigation record attempt.

Spirit of Cardiff in Telegraph Cove

It was one of the largest Rigid Inflatable Boats in the world, and yet at only 33 feet long, Spirit of Cardiff looked tiny - far too small to take on the one and only record ever established for circumnavigating the world in a powerboat. But she was unique, built specifically for the job. Alan Priddy, Steve Lloyd and Clive Tully had the utmost confidence in her, and they’d proved it by setting or breaking a number of powerboat endurance records before embarking on their ultimate challenge.

And then there were the pirates!
Tailgating the container ship Kota Wajar in a rough and bumpy Red Sea.

Alan Priddy, one of the world’s foremost exponents of long-distance expeditions in RIBs, was convinced he could do it. RIBs are highly favoured by coastguards, police and customs for their rugged ‘do anything, go anywhere’ nature. But no one had ever built a RIB with a 1,200 nautical mile range. No one else imagined it could seriously challenge a world record set down by a multi-million pound superboat that was more than three times the size of Spirit.

Clive Tully's Confronting Poseidon is a story about the human spirit, and the dogged determination to carry on when giving up would have been so much easier. With funds cut short as a result of September 11th, Priddy and his crew nevertheless resolved to set off anyway, at huge personal expense.

Kamchatka Peninsula
Stunning beauty: the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East.

Their marathon journey around the world in 2002 was beset by problems - illness, injury, pirates, corrupt officials, threats and intimidation.

Canadian rescue helicopter
Canadian rescue helicopter.

Their fourth crew man jumped ship in Singapore, guaranteeing the lack of sufficient funds to bring the boat home, and a number of mechanical problems threatened to end the record attempt in its tracks.
Worst of all was the bad weather, with monstrous seas which threatened to capsize even a ‘four-wheel drive of the ocean’.

The astonishing string of events and bombshell ending to Spirit of Cardiff’s epic voyage is the stuff of true adventure.

Presentation of two of Spirit of Cardiff's UIM world records
Left-right: Peter Dredge, RYA; Matt Lloyd, South Wales Echo; Alan Priddy; Clive Tully.