Earthrace World Record for Circling the Globe
In 2004, Pete Bethune was completing an MBA in Sydney, and his final paper was a 20k word essay on renewable fuels for road transport. Through this he became a convert to biodiesel, and conceived the idea to promote biodiesel from sustainable sources using a radical new boat. He linked up with Lomocean who designed an amazing vessel called Earthrace. Following is a brief timeline.
2003: Conceived idea to promote biodiesel fuel
2004: Linked with Naval Architects. Built 6m prototype vessel
2005: Start Construction of Earthrace
2006: Earthrace launched. Commence sponsor tour / outreach program
2007: First record attempt in circling the globe fails
2008: Earthrace sets new world record – 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes
2009: Complete sponsor obligations and boat sold to Ady Gil
in June 2008 Earthrace set a new World Record for circling the globe, and this still stands today. The crew and vessel then completed the outreach program and sponsor events, arriving back in New Zealand the following year.
Anti-Whaling Activities in Antarctica
In 2009, the vessel was sold, painted black, and renamed the Ady Gil. It went to Antarctica as part of the Sea Shepherd fleet to disrupt Japanese Whaling. In an event that rocked the conservation world, the vessel was rammed by a Japanese security vessel (Shonan Maru #2). Sea Shepherd ordered the damaged Ady Gil be scuttled in Antarctica and she has never been seen since. The Designers believe she will still be floating, most probably in the South Pacific Gyre.
A month after the ramming, Bethune boarded the Shonan Maru #2 and presented the Captain with a $3m bill to replace the Ady Gil. He was subsequently taken back to Japan and spent 5 months in a maximum Security Prison in Tokyo. In many ways, the ramming of Ady Gil and Bethune’s incarceration galvanized public opinion. Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace and many other NGOs protested Japan’s whaling program, and in June the Australian / New Zealand governments announced they were taking Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague over their illegal whaling program. The case was finally settled in 2014 with Japan losing. Since then Japan has restarted a reduced whaling program in Antarctica and it remains to be seen how it will play out. In hindsight though, it is clear that the Earthrace / Ady Gil vessel and Bethune played key roles in highlighting Japanese whaling in Antarctica that led to the successful court action.
After his release from Japan, Bethune resigned from Sea Shepherd and began building a new team to work on Conservation Missions. He formed the Non Profit “Earthrace Conservation”, and developed a competent team of men and women who tackle hard targets in conservation. Linking with NGOs, government agencies and individuals, they have run many successful campaigns and missions all over the world. Around this has been their conservation TV Series called “The Operatives” that documents the missions. There have also been a number of local campaigns run by Earthrace Volunteers, working on such things as Turtle Nesting Programs, creation of Local Marine Protected Areas, and increasing protection for endangered animals.
The MV Earthrace 2
The team has recently started work on Earthrace 2, which will become the new base of operations. The 60m Trimaran will be used to continue to team’s work in saving animals and running conservation missions. A new spinoff TV Series will be based on the boat, plus it will be used in an Outreach Program during port tours.