Clive Tully – Closer to the start line!

Way back in March 2011 Rohantime hosted a super interview with Clive Tully. Travel and outdoors journalist, broadcaster, photographer (and part-time rock musician), attempting powerboat world record global circumnavigation…

One of Our Balloons is Missing

We thought now would be a very good time to get an update.

Clive picks up the story…

Closer to the start line!

Gosh, was my first round the world powerboat post on Rohantime really six years ago? So much has changed, not least my collection of Kindle books on Amazon. “One of our Balloons is Missing” has been joined by another five books, including the download (and slightly updated) version of “Confronting Poseidon,” the story of my epic round the world powerboat attempt in 2002 on board “Spirit of Cardiff.”

In 2011, Alan Priddy – this year to his surprise awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Portsmouth – was just starting the construction of a radical wave-piercing design of powerboat to take on “Earthrace’s” 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes round the world record. We had a few delays during the construction process, and by mid-2012 the hull was around 80% finished.

Unfortunately, it all came to a dramatic end with an arson attack on the factory unit next door to the one containing our boat. The unit next door was completely gutted, and initially we thought we’d got away with it when we saw the boat still intact with nothing more than a thin film of soot to show for the experience. But when we resumed work, it quickly became apparent that something had changed. You don’t have to heat aluminium that much for it to lose most of its strength, and that’s what had happened. It was heart-breaking, but the boat had to be cut up and taken away for scrap.

xDecember 2016, Alan Priddy stands beside the newly turned over boat - credit Chris Davies

Once we’d got over the shock, we decided to go all the way back to the drawing board, commissioning a one-off design by Professor Bob Cripps, whose past naval architecture achievements include the very fast boat used by the SBS, and the current generation of RNLI lifeboats. His design for us is an 80 ft monohull calculated to be 30% more fuel-efficient than anything else afloat. With 30,000 litres of fuel capacity, it will have a range of around 4,500 miles, meaning we can go around the world with just seven refuelling stops. As the clock doesn’t stop when we’re in port, this represents a major advantage compared with Spirit of Cardiff’s route with over 30 stops. We also went for a more corporate feel to the project, calling ourselves Team Britannia, with suitably patriotic branding and website.

Team Britannia

But with all that, it took another four years before we got to start building boat number two.

It's this big! Alan Priddy inside the boat - credit Chris Davies.

Alan Priddy now has an after-dinner talk called “A funny thing happened on the way to the start line.” Suffice to say we’ve had offers of sponsorship from many people, including some well-known names, and some attention-seeking Walter Mitty types – all of which wasted time before the deals never materialised. But boat number two, to be named “Excalibur” after the Arthurian legend, is now not far off completion. We hope to have her in the water mid-February 2018 ready to start an extensive programme of sea trials before the record attempt from Gibraltar later in the year.

Excalibur visual

In the last couple of years, Alan Priddy has also been developing Clean Fuel, an emulsion and mixing process that allows you to combine water with diesel fuel. The advantage is that it burns much cleaner – he’s managed to reduce emissions of Particulate Matter (the stuff responsible for thousands of chronic diseases and deaths every year) to virtually zero. The plan is to mix Clean Fuel as we go using desalinated seawater. All the engine data will be transmitted to our website so everyone will see just how good it is, and hopefully governments will realise that Clean Fuel represents an opportunity to clean up polluting diesel engines immediately at little extra cost.

While the core of Team Britannia’s crew is people who have taken part in Alan Priddy’s previous adventures, either on “Spirit of Cardiff” and other powerboats, or when he sailed Sir Alec Rose’s legendary yacht “Lively Lady” around the world 2006-2008, we’ve put more of a human slant on the crew story by offering some places to ex-military people sponsored by Blesma, the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association. Suffering the loss of a limb is traumatic enough, but seeing how some of them have dealt with it is truly inspiring. Ex-Royal Marine Lee Spencer did a number of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he lost a leg much closer to home in a bizarre motorway accident. He’d stopped to help at the scene of a crash when another car piled in. The engine and gearbox shot out, taking one leg off and dislocating the other. Conscious throughout, his military training kicked in – he kept a cool head, giving someone else instructions on how to tie the tourniquet which saved his life. Since then, his rehabilitation has included rowing across the Atlantic as part of a four-man team, and in February 2018, he’s going to do it all again solo!

As for me, I’m still writing every month for Camping magazine. I think I’m now their longest-lasting regular contributor – coming up to 20 years! And while my involvement with Team Britannia has curtailed both regular travelling and playing in a band, for the last five years I’ve been paddling the Norfolk Broads in an inflatable kayak, selling quite a few stories and photographs. Contrary to all the safety advice, I much prefer going out on my own, and at times of the year when I’m virtually guaranteed the water without holiday cruisers. There’s something rather special about paddling on Hickling or Barton Broads and getting them to yourself.

I’m also busy formulating plans to turn my hand to film-making. I shall be shooting video on board “Excalibur,” and whatever happens with regard to possible TV documentaries and news coverage – and we’ve had considerable interest already – I’m planning to make a “Director’s Cut” of my footage available as a download and DVD. I also have all the video shot over four years of trips on “Spirit of Cardiff,” which I’m hoping to do something similar with.

Contact Clive

Read more from Clive on Rohantime

We had to add this super photo Clive also included…


Clive Tully wearing ancient Rohan Busker with Everest legend Doug Scott, taken 2015 in Norwich




Rohan Heritage

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