Safehaven Marine’s new XSV 17 class (see Ship & Boat International May/June 2017, pages 42-44) is to be put through its paces this summer, as it attempts to become the first ever vessel to circumnavigate both Ireland and the isolated islet of Rockall, situated approximately 500km northwest of the country.
Although Safehaven is keen to stress that it does not build ‘race boats’, the high-speed 17.8m x 4m Thunder Child, debutante in the XSV 17 class, has enough fire in her belly to compete with dedicated racing vessels, and then some, featuring a top speed of 60knots and Metamarine surface drives for minimal drag. The summer challenge will necessitate a 2,000km journey and a 1,000km open ocean crossing across the North Atlantic, which will certainly give the boat plenty of swell and high waves to negotiate.
Safehaven explains: “The route will effectively rule out very high-speed race boats, due to the long-range fuel requirement" - a factor that should not bother Thunder Child, with her range in excess of 700nm. Similarly, given her distance from the shore during this record attempt, described as being “beyond the range of most rescue services”, the XSV 17’s self-righting capability, reinforced wheelhouse windows and survivability in sea state 8 conditions, as well as her ability to cut through sea state 4 conditions without dropping speed, are highlighted as essential features the average race boat may be unable to offer. The crew will also benefit from the installation of six AMP Power-manufactured Wavebreaker shock-mitigating seats: a well-known product in patrol and SAR boat circles, but perhaps not so common in the race boat sector.
“Several hours of navigation will need to be carried out in the dark, necessitating HD radar and high-spec thermal night vision cameras to mitigate the risk and allow maximum speed to be maintained,” Safehaven adds.
Thunder Child’s first proper high-speed, long-run trip was conducted in March this year, when the vessel, carrying a complement of six persons, travelled 150nm from Cork to Dublin within three hours and 45 minutes at an average speed of 43knots. The XSV 17 is equipped with two Caterpillar C12.9 engines, rated 746kW apiece.