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Editions

What a difference a year makes

01 Apr 2010

What a difference  a year makes Image

Last year Peter Bethune was in Docklands showing off Earthrace, the “coolest boat in the world”.

This year Mr Bethune is under arrest in Japan and his boat is at the bottom of the Southern Ocean.

Mr Bethune was detained after he boarded the Japanese whaler Shonan Maru 2 in January to present its captain with a $3million compensation bill for sinking his boat.

The Shonan Maru 2 collided with and cut the bow off Mr Bethune’s boat during an anti-whaling protest in January.

Mr Bethune was held onboard the Shonan Maru and taken back to Japan where he was arrested and charged with trespass by the Japanese Coast Guard as the ship docked in Tokyo on March 12.

Earthrace held the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by a motorboat, a feat he achieved in 61 days in 2008.

Since leaving Docklands, Mr Bethune joined the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s anti-whaling campaign.

He changed the name of the boat to Ady Gil, a US-based sponsor, and repainted the craft “stealth” black.  The fully-submersible wave piercing trimaran was also fitted with 4-8 layers of Kevlar to protect against ice.

But the boat was no match for a direct hit by the Shonan Maru on January 6 and capsized the following day during an attempt to tow the stricken craft to Antarctica.

During the days before the collision, the Ady Gil harassed Japanese whaling vessels during their hunt. The crew towed ropes in an attempt to foul the propellers of the Japanese ships, pointed laser dazzlers at the crew of the Shonan Maru and used a projectile launcher to fire capsules of foul-smelling butyric acid.

At the time of going to press, Mr Bethune’s fate was unknown.

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