Sydney: A futuristic powerboat sent to harass Japanese whalers has been sliced in two and is sinking after a clash in Antarctic waters, activists said on Wednesday.
All six crew on the Ady Gil trimaran, which holds the round-the-world record, were rescued unharmed, the Sea Shepherd animal rights group said in a statement.
"The Ady Gil is believed to be sinking and chances of salvage are very grim," the group said, adding the "unprovoked" attack was captured on film.
"The Shonan Maru No. 2 suddenly started up and deliberately rammed the Ady Gil ripping eight feet of the bow of the vessel completely off," it said.
Crew on the carbon-and-kevlar trimaran had hurled stinkbombs in their first clash with the whalers earlier on Wednesday.
"The Japanese whalers have now escalated this conflict very violently," said Paul Watson, captain of the Sea Shepherd`s Steve Irwin ship.
"If they think that our remaining two ships will retreat from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the face of their extremism, they will be mistaken.
"We now have a real whale war on our hands now and we have no intention of retreating."
The Ady Gil, a wave-piercing boat formerly known as "Earthrace", jetted round the world in just under 61 days last year, beating the previous record by two weeks.
The craft was bankrolled by Hollywood businessman Ady Gil to help the anti-whalers, who claim to have saved hundreds of animals by confronting the Japanese ships in recent years.