John Mollison

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Falklands veteran eyes world record on Team Britannia’s powerboat

Perth native John Mollison (57) joins Team Britannia, the British bid to design and build the fastest and most fuel-efficient powerboat to circumnavigate the globe.

The Falklands veteran will join the revolutionary 80ft powerboat, which hopes to cut up to seven days off the current world record of 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes, held by New Zealander Pete Bethune.

The ground-breaking semi-wave slicing design of the boat will see the 20 tonne vessel carve through the waves, rather than surfing them. The super-efficient design, a variant of the “fast displacement hull” will reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent and make the 23,000 mile trip smoother and faster.

While the two race-tuned Fiat Power Train C13 500, 6 cylinder engines will run on a unique blend of diesel, water and surfactant. The emulsified diesel, which has been developed in the UK, will help the boat to extend it range while producing less pollution than diesel on its own.   

Ocean racing legend and skipper of Team Britannia, Alan Priddy commented: “John has a real flair for adventure, and his endurance, as demonstrated through the many extreme challenges he has undertaken, makes him a valuable addition to the team. Team Britannia now boasts an impressive rank of wounded and injured veteran, which gives us all the more to be proud of.”

John added: “I would love to bring the world record back to Britain, but first and foremost I am in it for the camaraderie. I am joining an excellent team faced with an exciting challenge, and I cannot wait to see it through to completion”. 

The boat will be crewed by a team of 12, including five wounded or injured veterans on each of the seven legs of the voyage, who are being supported by Blesma (British Limbless ex-Servicemens’ Association).

John, one of the liberators of Port Stanley in the Falklands War, lost a leg after stepping on an anti-personnel mine two days after the conflict came to an end in 1982. Since then he has undertaken many challenges to raise money for charity, including an attempt to single-handedly row the Atlantic ocean and completing an extreme trek through the Gobi desert.

The boat, which is being built at the Aluminium Boatbuidling Company on Hayling Island is expected to be launched in the summer, before undertaking an extended programme of sea trials to ensure it exceeds all safety requirements, before setting off on challenging journey.

The record attempt will get underway in 2018 in Gibraltar, using the iconic Europa Point as the as its timing mark.

Alan concluded: “We are entering an exciting phase of the project where we have got all our ducks in the row. The boat is nearing completion with the hull being turned and in the next couple of weeks we will start to kit her out with the latest navigation and communications equipment, the six fuel tanks, engines and jets.

“While work on the boat has been steaming ahead, we have taken the time the complete the selection of the crew, both those who will do the full voyage and those who will do a couple of legs. All of those selected have undertaken or will undertaken lifesaving sea survival training and RYA powerboat level 2. They have also demonstrated a commitment to the project and bringing the world record back to Britain.

“I am confident that we have an outstanding crew with the right mix of experience, tenacity and humour, because this is no pleasure cruise and we will face many challenges and tests – so getting the team right will make the difference between beating the current record and not.”

To complete the record attempt the boat must pass through the Suez and Panama Canals and start and finish in the same place. The world record authorities, UIM (Union Internationale Motonautique) have approved Team Britannia’s proposed route, which will start in Gibraltar and call at Puerto Rico, Manzanillo, Honolulu, Guam, Singapore, Oman and Malta to take on fuel.