New bid for outright speed record

The Vestas Sailrocket is back and ready for another assault on the outright speed record for any sailing vessel. Paul Larson, the Australin skipper of the British designed speed machine, has returned to Walvis Bay, Namibia, following an accident earlier this month.

On Friday 13th, Larson sustained cuts and concussion in a dramatic wipe-out during which his vessel flipped over and collapsed at speeds close to 47 knots. The boat was badly damaged and Larson was taken to hospital.

From Namibia, Paul writes: ‘Well…it’s great to be back. The fact that Vestas Sailrocket now sits outside this here container 100% ready for another assault on the Walvis Bay Speed sailing course bears testimony to the effort put in by the team since the violent crash 13 days ago. I still shudder when I look at the video as it all happened in an instant. I will show you all the video one day… but first we will focus on the job at hand.’

‘A week or so ago I committed the project to our third and final WSSRC ratified record period. As far as I can see… this will be it. We have until just after the middle of April to achieve our goal. It’s the culmination of nearly 10 years work. This boat has done a brilliant job in getting this far. I can’t think of another boat that has had a more tortured life and has still been capable of coming out number 1. She carries many scars from battle and what a battle it’s been. I think that on the last run she felt it was time that I took some of the damage… just so I know what it feels like!

‘Despite getting knocked about pretty hard on the last run, I can’t wait to get back into the cockpit. I feel I owe it to the boat. The last crash had nothing to do with the boat or the concept. It was more a case of using the wrong system in the wrong place and not changing it because… it worked before. This combined with good ol’ chafe of the dormant back-up strop is what brought it all to a grinding halt. The blame for this lies squarely on my shoulders. I can clearly recall each instant where that crash unfolded in the month leading up to it. It was a culmination of a number of little things as all great things are. Well at least the right person paid the penalty.

‘This time when I go out I will be wearing a full-face helmet, a HANS (Head and neck support) brace and a harness to keep me back in the confines of the roll-bar. The harness won’t let me go forward… but will allow me to fall out if inverted. Before the last two crashes I would have said this was all over the top for a sailing boat… but I’ve been over the top now!!!’

Vestas Sailrocket already has the speed record for a boat of its class, achieving in Namibia last year an eye watering top speed of 52.26kts with an average of 47.36kts. The team are now trying to top the outright record for any sailing vessel, currently held by a kite surfer. They believe they have until mid-April to do so. More here …