British designer's bid to beat record
The UK based VESTAS Sailrocket speed sailing team are currently making their final attempt on the Outright world speed sailing record in Namibia.
Their eyes are firmly focused on the 51.36 knot speed set by the mighty Hydroptere over the 500 meter course.
This is exactly 4 knots faster than the teams current ‘B’ class world record speed set last December. On October the 6th, on only their second run, they posted a 52.78 peak speed before a main foil component failure sent the pilot and boat into a spectacular airborne back-flip. For Australian pilot Paul Larsen it was a familiar scene having suffered a similar fate late last year. Both times, the boat has landed inverted and Larsen has escaped unhurt. Despite numerous breakages, the team expect to be back out on the water within a week. They remain convinced that they can break this record in the time remaining.
VESTAS engineer and Sailrocket designer Malcolm Barnsley describes sailing this boat at record speed as being akin to riding a bike on top of a narrow wall with a slightly dipped top. There is a narrow band where the craft seeks stability… but if you step outside that… then you are grossly unstable. Over the past five years, the team have been working on systems to keep inside that ‘groove’.
Video diary showing the action and the state of play:
The record attempt concludes on the 29th of October.