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Dudley powerboat dream proves a boost for business

Dudley | News | Published:

Craftsmen in landlocked Dudley are at the heart of an ambitious bid to pilot a powerboat around the world in record-breaking time.

Craftsmen in landlocked Dudley are at the heart of an ambitious bid to pilot a powerboat around the world in record-breaking time.

Workers at Micklewrights Structures have been given the job of building the boat by adventurer Alan Priddy.

He hopes to beat the existing 61-day record as part of his Global Circumnavigation Challenge.

Micklewrights is more used to building metal frameworks for building projects but, said co-owner Stuart Micklewright: "We are engineers; if someone can design it, we can build it."

The aluminium sheets for the bright red 80ft powerboat are being supplied by Blackburn Metals, based in nearby Kingswinford, and the first delivery of 12 tonnes arrived at Micklewrights' Thornleigh Trading Estate factory this week.

Mr Priddy said he wanted skilled metal workers to make the boat rather than specialist boat builders.

He said: "I think we could get around the world in 50 days. This is a ground-breaking and quite radical design, and I wanted a skilled fabricator who would build it as I wanted it, rather than a shipwright who would have his own ideas."

The vessel, he said, "is part boat, part submarine and part aeroplane. It incorporates elements of each. Instead of riding over the waves, it is designed to go underneath them."

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The powerboat, which will be named Good Heart, is being built as a streamlined fuel tank, holding 30,000 litres of fuel, with an eight-man crew and space for four passengers.

It will help secure 46 jobs at Micklewrights. Blackburn managing director Karl Weston, who employs around 60 at the Pensnett Trading Estate, said: "It is really great to have someone building something like this in the West Midlands for a world record attempt and using the engineering skills that we have here."

Mr Priddy's team will make the global journey in five 4,800 mile legs, making brief refueling stops at ports along the way.

The aim is to have the powerboat completed at Micklewrights by the end of July, Mr Priddy is hoping to set off from either Hong Kong or Gibralter in September or October, finishing before the end of the year.

With a cutting edge design, the slimline vessel will be 80ft long, 16 ft wide with an estimated top speed of more than 45 knots and a range of 5,000 miles.

It will weight around15 tonnes with the jet-style engines fitted. It is planned to stage open days so the public can see the boat's progress.

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