A revolutionary 78-foot (24m) wave piercing trimaran originally named Earthrace, broke the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat on June 27, 2008. It set the record at 60 days, 23 hours , 49 minutes. It destroyed the existing world record set by the Cable and Wireless Adventurer ( originally named at that time Ocean 7 Adventurer ) by a humbling 13 days, 21 hours, 9 minutes.
Again it has shown that New Zealand has not only eclipsed and startled the worlds best, but has highlighted this nations penchant for dramatic, daring approaches in unorthodox design.
Carbon fiber and bold use there-of has become iconic in New Zealand ventures into motorcycle racing on the international circuits, 12 metre yacht racing and now long distance record setting for a powered boat. In all of these New zealand has proven an exciting world leader and paradoxically the quiet home to daring innovators.
The Earthrace boat ( the latest iteration being named Ady Gil after the California millionaire sponsor )
was designed specifically to break the worlds record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat while highlighting the eco-friendly, most carbon neutral regime possible.
It was of revolutionary design in a very fundamental sense: it was computer aided in design concept and predicted to ‘cut through’ the waves rather than wasting energy going over the top of them. Fully submersible, she could cut through 15 metre ( 49 foot ) waves and go a full 7 m ( 23 feet ) underwater.
In the event, the predictions have been proven correct and much energy was indeed saved in the relatively more even keeled plane of motion.
As per Kiwi ( New Zealanders ) habit and preference, Earthrace was 100% carbon fiber in her hull construction. The cost at around $2.5 million is not at all surprising even for a boat not quite 80 feet.
Powered by two 540 Cummins Mercruiser Engines, she ran on an animal fat and vegetable oil mix bio diesel. It could just as easily have run on conventional diesel, bio-diesel or blends.
The air intakes were on two startling fins raked at such an angle and curve that the entire package and end effect evoked an appearance of some some gigantic unknown biological life-form.
While the two propellers were mounted under the main hull, the rudders were located out in the pontoons. This arrangement proved good in the turns at speed but at slower regimes in the neighborhood of 12 knots, it had limited maneuverability.
Nonetheless in the long distances which she was designed for, this was perfectly in keeping for a craft whose bread and butter so to speak was chewing through long stretches of sea and waves for thousands upon thousands of kilometers.
As a showcase and standard bearer for the green movement and ecological concerns at the forefront today, it is hardly surprising its crew became involved in the anti-whaling controversy.
Japan has frequently been at odds with various groups whom view continued whaling predation in this day and age as blatant endangerment of the earths precious resources. New Zealand waters and in particular the great Southern Ocean down towards Antarctica are some of the richest remaining habitats of certain whale species.
As the renamed Ady Gil, the boat became involved in dangerous confrontations with Japanese whaling ships in January 6, 2010. In a resulting collision attempting to ward off a Japanese whaler, the Ady Gil was severely damaged and eventually sunk.