Four teams all aiming to break barrier

Four teams from three countries are vying to be the first to break the current world speed sailing record, and crack the holy grail of 50 knots.

“No one remembers the second man to walk on the moon,” says Sean Langman, the creator and pilot of the radical Australian craft called Wot Rocket .

Wot Rocket’s 500m world speed sailing record attempt was forced to shift up a gear following the launch of the French flying trimaran l’Hydroptere on 22 May.

“I want to go official now because the French have. Everything’s been stamped urgent,” admits Langman.

Last week l’Hydroptere clocked 46.8 knots. Langman admits the “brutish French design can probably be pushed harder, but I believe we have the ability to go faster” he says.

Yesterday marked the first successful trial of a newly built wing extension. “Because the rules state we have to have a standing start, we plan to initially use the wing extension for more horsepower to get the pod free of the water. Then, once we reach 30 knots of speed we shall fire off the top wing section,” explains Langman.

Meanwhile others continue to pursue the barrier. Australian Macquarie Innovations , British SailRocket , and a host of kite- and wind-surfers are all working towards record attempts. The speed to beat was set at 49.09 knots by French sail boarder Antoine Albeau in March 2008.

SailRocket’s Paul Larsen wrote on his website of the WotRocket team, “I’m glad they are on the water and I admire their confidence [but] I don’t think they have done 5 knots yet… but they consider themselves contenders and are rushing to call in the commissioners!”

It looks as if the battle is likely to really heat up over the coming months.

Macquarie Innovations: