Round the World “Superboat” is Finally Launched

First reported in 2011 now finally launched

A superboat aiming to break the around the world speed record has been launched after a lengthy time in build. We first reported on this project in 2011.

Team Britannia’s 20-tonne vessel, called Excalibur, is made out of marine grade aluminium, to be both light and strong.  She was carefully lifted into the water, to coincide with a spring tide and maximum water at a boatyard on Hayling Island.

The painstaking operation to launch the craft started with the removal of a temporary building that was needed to accommodate the construction of the massive vessel, which started three and half years ago. The boat was then lifted, turned 90 degrees and lowered into the water. 

Final fit-out

Excalibur will be moved to the Hayling Yacht Company for the final fit-out, installation of massive inflatable tubes, commissioning of the engines and jets and to allow the superstructure and deck to be wrapped.

The construction process and the lifting operation was overseen by ocean racing sailor and the superboat skipper Dr Alan Priddy. “Last year the political commentator John Sergeant, on a visit to see Excalibur, asked me which would be finished first, our boat or Brexit – we now know the answer. The crew and our supporters have waited a long time for this day, but now the construction of the Excalibur is complete and everyone can finally see her in all her glory,” he said. 

Alan continued: “I hope people will be as impressed as I am with the result and can see why the superboat has taken so long to build. The attention to detail, quality of the welding and thousands of hours of skilled work that have gone into the construction, mean we have an immensely tough vessel, which incorporates a new fuel-efficient design that should cut diesel consumption by up to 30 per cent and demonstrate dozens of top marine products, including super-tough glass from Glasgow, batteries from Holland and navigation equipment from here in Portsmouth.” 

The boat is a completely new design from Professor Bob Cripps, former Technical Director of VT Halmatic. It has been designed in the UK and is being constructed out of marine-grade aluminium. Construction started in 2016 and was originally estimated to take just 12 months to build, but a series of delays and cost overruns meant construction on the hull along with snagging was not completed until this week. 

Emulsified fuel

In addition to the fuel-efficient design, the vessel will be powered by a revolutionary fuel emulsion, a mixture of diesel, water and an emulsifying agent from Portsmouth based Clean Fuel Ltd. The emulsified diesel appears to reduce harmful emissions such as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.

The emission from the emulsified fuel will be monitored by the University of Portsmouth for the duration of the voyage and the results published online. It is hoped that the marine industry will embrace this new technology as there is no need for expensive changes to engines as the mixing equipment and water tank can be retrofitted.

Excalibur will need a crew of 25.  She will carry 12 of those on board at all times with 5 rotating on and off the boat to keep them refreshed.  A team of 8 shore based personnel completes the complement.

Record attempt

Team Britannia will launch their 23,000 nm record attempt from Europa Point in Gibraltar before travelling to Puerto Rico, through the Panama Canal, to Manzanillo, Hawaii, Guam, Singapore, Oman, through the Suez Canal to Malta before returning to Gibraltar. They hope to cut 10 days off the current record of 60 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes, currently held by Kiwi Pete Bethune in 2007.  

Alan concluded: “The next steps, attach the shafts, commission the engines and install the super tough glass. Once this has been done and the top of the boat is wrapped she will be ready for sea trials and the final selection of the crew. This leaves the last two pieces of the project, finding a title sponsor and media partner, without which we can’t start. 

“Once we have a title sponsor and media partner, we will leave in one of the two annual weather windows, smash the current world record and bring the title back to the UK.”