Earthrace announces second attempt at the round-the-world record

Pete Bethune, NZ skipper of Earthrace, has officially announced a second biodiesel powered attempt at breaking the round-the-world speed record set by British boat ‘Cable and Wireless Adventurer’ in 1998. The record stands at 75 days, a time Earthrace failed to better earlier this year due to mechanical and structural failures and a unhealthy dose of bad luck.


This second biodiesel powered attempt will begin from Valencia, Spain on 01 March 2008. The route is as follows:

  • Valencia
  • Azores
  • Puerto Rico
  • Panama Canal
  • Manzanillo, Mexico
  • San Diego, USA
  • Hawaii
  • Majuro, Marshall Islands
  • Koror, Palau
  • Singapore
  • Cochin, India
  • Salalah, Oman
  • Suez Canal
  • Valencia

The 165,000 litres of biodiesel required for the journey will be supplied by Earthrace’s new fuel sponsor, SGC Energia of Portugal.

You can find more information and follow Earthrace’s progress on their web site.

Source: Earthrace via The Australian


First Skysails cargo ship officially launched

The MV Beluga Skysails was officially launched in Hamburg, Germany on Saturday night. MV Beluga Skysails is the first cargo vessel in the world to be fitted with the innovative Skysails auxiliary propulsion system.

MV Beluga Skysails

Niels Stolberg, CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH, said:

You have to have the courage to try out something new. This courage is based on the certainty that the SkySails system is the only sail system in the maritime shipping sector to date that can be used in commercial operation without any restrictions in vessel use.

Eva Luise Köhler, wife of the Federal German President, awarded the vessel her name, MV “Beluga SkySails”, during the christening ceremony at Überseebrücke in Hamburg.

The MV Beluga SkySails is equipped with a kite measuring 160 square metres which is expected to reduce fuel consumption by 10 to 15 percent in the initial phase of operation. Later, when the kite is scaled up to 320 square metres in the course of the coming yearsavings of 20 to 30 percent are expected.

MV Beluga SkySails will undertake its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to Venezuela in early January.

Source: Beluga Group via SBS

Cargo ships propelled by giant kites

German company SkySails are developing wind propulsion systems for modern shipping. These systems are large kites similar to those you see powering kite surfers. Their target market includes cargo ships and large motor yachts.

The advantages of the kite system are that it can be flown in clean air well above the surface of the water and because it is tethered to the deck of the ship it doesn’t produce the leaning moment that would be experienced with a similar size sail on a mast.
The planned product range contains towing kite propulsion systems with a of up to 5,000 kW (about 6,800 HP). On annual average fuel costs can be lowered between 10-35% depending on actual wind conditions and actual time deployed. Under optimal wind conditions, fuel consumptions can temporarily be reduced up to 50%.

Biodiesel to fuel marine gas turbines

Marine Log reports:

Recently, with GE assistance, ship operators have incorporated operation with soy- and palm-based biodiesel fuels in their LM2500+ gas turbines, with outstanding service success (Marine Gas Oil normally fuels the 26 GE gas turbines currently operating on cruise ships). GE believes there is potential for the use of biodiesel in a variety of commercial marine applications as well as with the military–both in the United States and abroad–and with industrial customers.