By Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU.

Safehaven Marine or also called “thunder child” established a new record for the circumnavigation of Ireland and Rockall: 35 hours.

Allback Racing, in 2016, had navigated around Ireland in the shortest and most direct route around  Ireland. He had set this record in 13 hours in perfect conditions during the summer with a 42 feet race boat capable of 160 km/h. However by including Rockall in the route, this ruled out high speed race boats due to the long-range fuel requirement.

The sponsor of this race, 8 West Consulting, had set a SafeTrx Thunder Child tracking website to track the record attempt.

The latest SafeTrx Open Architecture that underpins the tracking website now supports tracking technology including satellite and IoT devices, in addition to smartphones. The SafeTrx architecture will be receiving data from L band and Iridium satcom devices onboard as well as a number of SafeTrx compatible Sigfox IoT tracking devices, as well as standard smartphones and GPS-enhanced smartphones.

Sigfox is a low-power, wide-area network designed to allow simple internet of things (IoT) devices to communicate. Since Sigfox has a long range and low power requirement, it has exciting potential in marine safety, providing connectivity in areas without cellular coverage. 

John Murphy, CEO said “ We saw the prospect of partnering up with Safehaven Marine as a fantastic opportunity to test these new tracking and alerting devices in one the harshest environments on the planet, the North Atlantic”


As the trip lasted 35 hours, several hours of navigation were carried out in the dark. Therefore HD radar and night vision cameras were used to allow a maximum speed to be mantained.

The boat had to be the safest as possible in case of impact with debris. For example shock mitigation seats were be needed.

The boat covered 2069 km in 35 hours km, allowing only two fuel stops.

The boat

Thunder Child is an ‘XSV 17’ designed and built by Safehaven Marine. The design is a 17m very high speed, wavepiercing, low RCS Interceptor, designed for Naval, law enforcement and off shore patrol applications, as well as being capable of high speed S.A.R. operations being self-righting and offering fast emergency response times.

Thunder Child is powered by a pair of Caterpillar C12.9 turbocharged, supercharged and intercooler diesel engines producing 1,000hp each. Propulsion is by Surface drives manufactured by Metamarine in Italy. XSV 17 is capable of a maximum speed of 60kts. A crew of 10 can be comfortably seated, 6 on high tech AMP Wave breaker shock mitigation seats and4 on fixed seats in her main cabin, a separate heads and sleeping compartment in her foward cabin.

Thunder Child is fitted with long range fuel tanks of 5,000+L allowing a range of over 750NM.

The crew was composed by 6 experienced people. Frank Kowalski, MD of Safehaven Marine. Ciaran Monks, comercial pilot. Ian Brownlee, responsible for electrical and engineering systems. Mary Power, in charge of logistics and video documenting the adventure. Carl Randalls, comercial pilot. Peter Gurgul, Safahaven Marine engineer.

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