John Sandford Hart

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Powerboat veteran renews his ocean-going vows in new round-the-world record attempt

Mudeford’s John Sandford Hart is adding to his powerboating prowess by joining the crew of Team Britannia, the round-the-world record attempt.

The experienced powerboat racer, who holds seven world records and lost a leg in a race in 2002, will step aboard Team Britannia’s 80ft powerboat, which hopes to cut up to seven days off the current record of 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes, held by New Zealander Pete Bethune.

Team Britannia, led by British ocean racing legend Alan Priddy, will use a revolutionary semi-wave slicing boat that will 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 nautical mile trip smoother and faster.

The boat will be crewed by a team of 12, including up to five wounded or injured veterans, (WIS) on each of the seven legs of the voyage who are being supported by the forces charity Blesma.

Mr Priddy commented: “It is great to have a fellow powerboat racer on board our record attempt – in what must be one of the world’s ultimate powerboats. John has multiple records to his name, and I hope Team Britannia’s will add to his illustrious collection.”

John added: “I cannot wait to get my hands on Team Britannia’s powerboat and get stuck in to breaking this world record. This has to be my toughest challenge yet, and it is great that I will be surrounded by ex-military crew members who are refusing to be defined by disability. I have always been clear that this attempt is a team effort and no individual is bigger than that. I started my love affair with boats when I was just 14, and the opportunity to be part of Team Britannia was just too exciting to refuse.” 

John, who comes from Bangor in North Wales but now lives in Mudeford, Dorset, is the co-ordinator of Team Britannia’s veterans programme. A veteran himself he lost one of his legs in a powerboat racing accident in 2002.

Despite his injury he has seven world records to his name – not all powerboat related. In 2011, he set the world record for the fastest completion of the London Marathon on crutches. He is also a ski instructor and has said the first thing he will look for upon crossing the finishing line is a smile on the face of his fellow wounded and injured ex-military crewmates.

John now runs an import-export business called Stumpy’s Toy Town, which customises classic cars and motorcycle.

In addition to fuel-efficient design, the boat will use a pollution cutting Water-in-Diesel (WiDE) fuel emulsion power the two race-tuned Fiat Power Train C13 500, 6 cylinder engines. The boat is being built by the Aluminium Boatbuilding Company who are based near Portsmouth and will be fitting the latest navigation and communications equipment from the British marine industry.

The record attempt will start in October 2018 using the iconic Europa Point in Gibraltar as its timing mark.

Mr Priddy concluded: “We are at a crucial and exciting point in the project. The boat is being built and we are putting together our team, both shore-based and those who will take part in this epic challenge. Getting the right team together is crucial if we are to smash the current record, so it is great to have John on board – he is a proven powerboater and has natural leadership qualities making him the perfect choice to co-ordinate and support our growing band of wounded and injured veterans.”

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.