The crew of Safehaven Marine’s hi-tech Thunder Child braved extreme weather conditions, including 6m waves and 50 knot gale force eight winds, at the mouth of Cork Harbour on Thursday as Storm Doris bore down on the southern coast.
Crew member Mary Power was on a chase boat monitoring the trials as test pilot Ciaran Monks put Thunder Child through her paces.
“The conditions were excellent, the waves were high, and the boat performed very well; she handled very well,” said Ms Power. “They were by far the roughest conditions she’s encountered since her launch before Christmas, and we are all very pleased with the progress.”
The team is now assessing performance data to determine what fine-tuning may be required as preparations continue for the record attempt. Members expect to encounter similar conditions during the first long-way-round 2,000km circumnavigation of Ireland, taking in Rockall, an isolated islet some 500km off the northwest coast, this summer.
Safehaven Marine, based in Youghal, East Cork, is an internationally recognised designer and manufacturer of high-speed commercial sea craft, and is renowned for building boats with high sea-keeping capabilities, strength, and stealth.
Its vessels are in operation around the world, working in port pilot roles, in search and rescue missions, and they have been bought by various military and naval services for deployment on security and patrol operations.
Company boss Frank Kowalski launched Thunder Child just before Christmas. Built of advanced lightweight materials, it is powered by a pair of Caterpillar C12.9 turbocharged diesel engines which produce 1,000hp each.
It can reach speeds of up to 60kts, has a range of over 750 nautical miles, boasts HD radar and high-spec thermal night vision cameras.
It will be crewed on the record bid by Mr Kowalski, Ian Brownlee, Carl Randalls, Mr Monks, and Ms Power, who will sit on special shock-mitigation suspension seats.
It is hoped to launch the record attempt from Cork, weather permitting, in late May or early June.