Dating back to 2005, the Earthrace was an endurance boat designed by owner Pete Bethune to circumnavigate the world promoting global awareness of renewable fuel and sustainable living. The 78’ foot vessel featured a wave-piercer hull and was constructed to withstand 50’ waves all in the name of environmental awareness.
Earthrace was a 100% biodiesel vessel and was also 100% carbon neutral. Bethune’s idea was to promote replenishable fuels like those made with canola oil or soya bean oil; our current world dependence on fossil fuel is expensive, hazardous, and limited in supply.
According to Earthrace, biodiesel fuel offers a number of benefits including:
• If accidentally spilled, biodiesel with degrade by 95% in just one month
• Helping to keep jobs local
• Maintains the same toxicity level as common table salt
• In comparison with diesel fuel, biodiesel has a higher flashpoint so it’s safer to use overall
• Is non-hazardous so there are no transportation concerns as with diesel
• Creates less emissions overall
• Helps to reduce our foreign oil dependency
The production of biodiesel and biofuel can originate from corn and other vegetable oils (including oil recycled from fast food restaurants) or animal fat known as tallow (from farm animals like cows and chickens); it can also be produced from fish oil, algae, and even seaweed.
Europe has one of the highest production levels of biodiesel fuel in the world; in 2005, they produced close to one billion gallons. If the production of ethanol (ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol) was undertaken in the U.S., it’s suggested that for every 100 million gallons of fuel created, it would generate approximately 2,000 jobs within the country.
The Earthrace World Tour took place from 2006 to 2009 where the boat traveled to Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Europe, the Caribbean, and Australia. The Earthrace vessel attempted to break the around the world speed boat record in 2007 but didn’t accomplish it’s goal until June 2008 when it became a world record holder sanctioned by the Union International Motonautique (UIM).
During the Earthrace World Tour, Bethune took the opportunity to speak at as many schools as possible in order to encourage environmental awareness. Earthrace also provides resources for teachers including links to free lesson plans from such notables as Xpeditions at National Geographic and the Global, Environmental, and Outdoor Education Council of Canada (GEOEC).
In late 2009, Earthrace teamed up with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS). The Earthrace boat was outfitted with additional carbon and Kevlar, was painted all black and was renamed the Ady Gil (after a well-contributing benefactor).
The first mission for the Ady Gil, dubbed the ‘Waltzing Matilda,’ took place in January 2010 when they confronted the Japanese whaling ship, Shonan Maru #2. A physical confrontation took place which resulted in heavy damage to the Ady Gil which consequently sunk to the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean within a few days time. Criminal charges were filed again Bethune; a trial followed which resulted in the probation and release of Bethune to his home in New Zealand on July 10, 2010. The Earthrace Project vows to continue on.
Flickr.com Photo Credit: Fowey Harbour Cornwall 11-10-2007 14-58-04 by Martin Pettitt