by Michael dEstries
Categories: People.


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.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • http://PaulShepard Jay’me Golden

    In a way I wish that nothing had been said about the Earthrace…what a surprize it would of been to the japanese when it showed up on the scene…now they will have time to think of ways to out do the Sea Shepard… I am excited though and am hoping that it will make a difference…

  • John Joe

    As an interceptor vessel the Earthrace crew have been thinking long and hard about possible tactics to really bankrupt the whaling fleet and cripple it’s profitability.Some may seem extreme and dangerous when portrayed on WW’s but the crew are completely committed to stopping whaling and the japanese have something a lot more serious chasing them now. ER crew are battle hardened warriors having fought off pirates and beaten the world circumnavigation record. (They are also slightly crazy and a lot of fun so the series will be awesome viewing) Even if these guerilla tactics dont come off just the sight of the Earthrace boat will make the whale wars series an unmissable environmental crusade and an inspiration to individual action and an elevation of what we have to do to save the planet.

    Fight the good fight. Kia Kaha, Kia Toa.

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  • Joanie

    I agree with Jay’me Golden. The Earthrace should have been kept a secret, and no information pertaining to her structure should be discussed. This just gives the Japanese time to create ways to deal with Earthrace. The element of suprise would have been great, and could have set the Japanese back just enough to save a few more whales!

  • Natalie

    Good Luck! I hope your fleet grows to the hundreds with plenty of caring, knowledgable crews to man them. Save the whales (and other sea animals)!

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  • http://seashepardfags.suc libsmasher

    Earthrace sunk by jap whaler!!!

    This reminds me of the tune that gets played by bob barker in the price is right when you loose a game. duhduh…duh!

    No matter how delusional you people get by thinking that “the japs will have to contend with a serious piece of hardware now.! There will always be reality waiting to run you over.



  • joe

    sucks it got sunk. maybe the us navy will sell sea shepherd that sea shadow for a replcment. id like to see the japanese even think about running that down.