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Exclusive: The Earthrace Begins A Sea Shepherd Transformation

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Ever since it was announced earlier this summer that Earthrace would be joining Sea Shepherd for this year’s campaign against Japanese whaling ships, we’ve been eager for more updates. The 78 foot biodiesel-powered wave-piercing trimaran is a sleek, world-record holder (fastest for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat) that would even draw gadget-envy from James Bond’s Q.

Back in June, Captain Paul Watson of SS said that he intended to use Earthrace to “intercept and block harpoons”. While that sounds like a feat achievable only in a Michael Bay movie, Earthrace captain Pete Bethune is taking his orders seriously. We recently spoke with the creator of this incredible vessel and how he’s getting the boat ready for the harsh Antarctic seas (and potential Japanese encounters).

ER: On how the Earthrace is being transformed for its new mission:

PB: “We’re adding between 8 layers and 4 layers of kevlar, depending on area, all over the underwaterline sections, as well as some areas above the waterline. Earthrace is pretty much all carbon, which is brittle, especially as it gets colder. The kevlar adds impact resistance. It does not make it iceproof, it just limits the damage when we do end up scraping some ice. Earthrace though is quite vulnerable down there, so we will need to be especially carfeul. Antarctica is very unforgiving.”


ER: On the use of Earthrace to block harpoons:

PB: “Paul must have been pretty excited when he said I’ll be blocking harpoons with Earthrace. if they ever hit us with an explosive harpoon it’ll be massive damage. but certainly we’ll do our best to get in their way. If they hit us it will always be their guy that pulled the trigger — but hopefully things won’t come to that.”

ER: What types of new technology can we expect Earthrace to sport while going head-to-head with the Japanese ships?

PB: “A new broadband radar that cannot be detected. FLIR nightvision system. Iridium openport comms so we cn upload videos and pics all the time.  And new type of paint that scatters radar signals making us hard to detect.”

ER: On what’s next for the ship while in dry dock:

PB: “By the end of this week we hope to have all the kevlar added and be well underway on the fairing compound. And from next week we’ll be starting to paint (all-black) I expect.”

Look for Sea Shepherd’s Operation Waltzing Matilda to launch later this year.

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