Plymouth’s Lee Spencer (47) is taking on his latest challenge and returning to the seas by stepping aboard the crew of Team Britannia, a new round-the-world powerboat record attempt.
The veteran of more than 24 years’ service in the Royal Marines will join the record attempt, which hopes to cut up to seven days off the current time 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 24,000 mile trip smoother and faster.
The boat will be crewed by a team of 12, including up to five wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women (WIS) on each of the seven legs of the voyage who are being supported by Blesma (the Limbless Veterans Charity).
Mr Priddy commented: “I am delighted and proud to welcome Lee on board Team Britannia’s record attempt. Lee’s impressive military career will stand our team in good stead, contributing to the grit and determination of those on board. Lee already has an impressive ocean-going pedigree with his awe-inspiring row across the Atlantic – although we all hope he’ll be travelling a bit quicker this time around!”
Lee added: “This is certainly going to be a different challenge to my unsupported row across the Atlantic last year. I miss the camaraderie that comes from being part of a team, so I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to this record attempt.”
He added: “I want to show that there is life beyond disability and that I am not defined by my disability – a message which I hope our mission will deliver to others right across the world.”
Lee, who lives in Tavistock near Plymouth, will be one of several wounded and injured (WIS) veterans in the crew.
He lost his right leg and injured his left in a freak accident. While stopping to help at the scene of an accident on the M3 motorway in January 2015, a second incident catapulted part of a car engine and gearbox into him.
Despite the significant injury and shock, Lee remained conscious for nearly half an hour after the accident, calmly instructing a good Samaritan how to make a tourniquet and stem the life threatening blodd lose.
Following the terrible injury he was medically discharged from the Royal Marines on 23rd September 2016 after more than 24 years’ service, serving in Northern Ireland, Iraq as well as three tours of Afghanistan.
Before his accident, Lee was a committed fundraiser for the Royal Marines Charity – of which he is now an ambassador and regular talks about the work of armed forces and the work of the service charities.
Just 11 months after losing his leg, Lee with three other veterans rowed “unsupported” across the Atlantic in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge as part of Row2Recovery crew.
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.
It will be launched in late 2016 and will then commence sea trials. The record attempt will get underway early next year using the iconic Europa Point in Gibraltar as its timing mark.
To complete the record attempt the boat must pass through the Suez and Panama Canals, cross the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator 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.
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 I am really pleased to have Lee on board – someone with the proven physical and mental resilience required to bring the world record back to Great Britain.”
Team Britannia is a multi-million pound British bid to design and build the fastest and most fuel efficient semi-wave slicing powerboat to circumnavigate the globe for the much-coveted UIM world record, currently held by the New Zealander Pete Bethune at 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes.
The World Record Authorities (UIM) dictate that for a recognised circumnavigation the craft has to pass through the Suez and Panama Canals, cross the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator and must start and finish the journey in the same place.
The boat is a completely new design from Professor Bob Cripps, former Technical Director of VT Halmatic. It has been designed in the UK and will be constructed in the Portsmouth area out of marine-grade aluminium. It encompasses “an exceptionally efficient hull”, which will cut fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent.
In addition to the design the vessel will be powered by a revolutionary fuel emulsion, a mixture of diesel, water and emulsifying agent from Clean Fuel Ltd. This will reduce harmful emissions such as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.
The effects of the emulsified fuel on the engines and the emissions will be monitored for the duration of the voyage and the results published online.
The boat is being built by the Aluminium Boatbuilding Company based in Hampshire, out of marine-grade aluminium. The metal was produced by Blackburn metals and laser-cut by specialist firm Aalco in Southampton.
The whole construction process is expected to take around nine months before it starts a programme of sea trials around the UK.
The boat will also showcase nearly a dozen leading marine companies, which are supporting the project with their expertise and equipment.
Team Britannia will launch their record bid in spring 2017 from Europa Point in Gibraltar.
- Length – 80 feet
- Internal beam – 13 feet
- External beam – 19 feet
- Draft – 30 inches
- Material – Marine grade aluminium, including nearly 12km of framing
- Hull thickness – 8-10 mm
- Build weight – 20 tonnes
- Range 4,000 nautical miles
- Engines – Two customised Fiat Power Train C13 500, 6 cylinders
- Power – Each engine is capable of generating 500HP at 2,000 RPM
- Water jets – Two Castoldi turbo drive 490 HC
- Fuel – Emulsified diesel (diesel, water and a unique emulsion developed by Clean Fuel and its partners)
- Navigation station – Raymarine
- Communications equipment – Standard Horizon & Iridium Everywere
- Batteries – Mastervolt
- Total crew – 20 (12 onboard with 5 rotating on and off the boat plus 3 shore based)
- Crew clothing – Sebago