TEAM BRITANNIA – Breaking the sailing record

words | Molly Parody

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Five years ago in Ocean Village, I met a man who could be described as someone who had their sensibility removed and danger and adventure implanted into their brain instead; Alan Priddy, an extraordinary man at 63.

Upon meeting the ‘silver fox’, I was taken back by how much he exudes the vivacity, drive and enthusiasm of a man half his age. His desire to achieve matches his desire to enjoy the journey of life and all its voyages. Nothing really gets him down, but many things get him up in the morning, excited and ready to take on the day and the world. He inspires others and he inspired me proving that you are never too old to attempt and achieve any goal in life you want. the_gibraltar_magazine_october_2016-photos_page_047_image_0002

Alan with the team behind the bid at the Houses of Parliament

Alan has spent the majority of his life at sea having started sailing when he was a mere eight years old. Three years later, he owned his first vessel and since then, has accumulated nearly forty world records.

Most record holders have a certain air of superiority about them, not Alan, he is so down to earth and humble, you feel maybe you should double check official records to see if, indeed, he is the legend of the seas the world knows him as.

Over a few glasses of wine Alan told me about his dream to one day beat the current record for fastest circumnavigation round the world by more than a week. Believing it was the wine talking, I laughed, but within a couple of years, Alan really lay down plans to achieve this dream.

I have met with Alan on numerous occasions since that day, sharing a meal, a bottle of wine or two and talking about his goals, mainly his aim to achieve the fastest circumnavigation around the world. One part of this goal was for the race to start from Gibraltar, a place Alan had a passion and love for.

This is how Gibraltar, on October 23rd, will be the starting point for what could be a record breaking event that may never be broken.

Before you start to think this Alan guy sounds like someone who should be monitored by specialists, you need to know his attempt to break the world record with Team Britannia will not be the first time Alan has circumnavigated the world. In fact, he is the only person who has done so by motor boat and sail boat on two separate occasions.

Because of his experiences at sea, Alan had an edge when it came to knowing what type of boat needed to be built. He can talk to you about the whole technical side of things and it’s easy to listen, but the passion in his voice masks over all of that and all you can hear is that Alan had one goal in mind, creating a vessel that would complete the challenge in a record that would be “nearly impossible to beat.”

Sailing from Europa Point, Alan will skipper Team Britannia into the history books, where once again we will see Britannia rule the waves. A challenge not for the faint hearted.

This adventure of a lifetime will be undertaken in a multi-million pound revolutionary semi-wave slicing powerboat, she is so sleek and attractive looking she could easily be described as ‘sexy’. In fact, many people in the know call her just that. To the untrained eye, she looks like she belonged in one of the ‘Back to the Future’ movies. In addition, this powerboat, amazingly enough, is run on a fuel emulsion that slashes harmful emissions, this aspect of the boat appealed to my environmentally aware heart greatly.

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Earlier this summer, I met up with Alan for dinner where he confidently told me he will crush the current record held by New Zealander Pete Bethune and shave up to seven days off 60 days 23 hours 49 minutes record. In fact, so confident is he in the bid, he firmly believes it could be done faster than that.

His dream, in a nut shell, is to sail round the world quicker than anyone has ever done and bring the world record back to Great Britain where it belongs, but he wants to do it in such a timing that it will be near on impossible for anyone else to beat him.

To complete this epic journey, a voyage most of us would never dare to dream about doing, and gain the record, the boat must pass through the Suez and Panama Canals, cross the Tropic of Cancer, the Equator and start and finish in the same place. When he does this, Gibraltar will be the starting and finishing place for, quite possibly, the greatest boat race in the history of humankind. Despite this accolade, Alan remains as modest as the ocean is deep, he is just doing it because he wants to.

Earlier this year, Alan watched as engineers and designers started construction of the boat, with every piece of aluminium cut for the 80 feet long vessel and every bolt wielded. He looked on with pride and a sense that this is real and his dream will come true.

Alan was in Gibraltar with other team members last month and we discussed the dignitaries who are coming, the maritime activities and events that will be hosted in the week leading up to the race day. Some of these events include the incredible Thundercats, an event of high action thrills and spills that leaves spectators with their hearts in their mouths as speed, accuracy and some wipe-outs take place on water.

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Alan Priddy with some of the WIS

The activities will also include a couple of nights of free entertainment in Casemates Square, provided by local acts for everyone on the Rock to enjoy, because Alan wants this to be a community filled achievement. A gala event will be held on the Sunborn the night before the race, where Alan minus his boat shoes and shorts will don a suit to meet and greet his already won over fans or those who are yet to become fans.

When the boat arrives on the Rock following her exhibition at the Monaco Boat Show, she will be berthed in Ocean Village and there for everyone to fawn over, and fawn over her you will, it’s inevitable. With some luck, you very well may get to meet Alan, buy him a beer, take a seat and listen in awe to the stories he can tell.

To follow Alan’s journey, visit Team Britannia’s website.