(November 18, 2012: Namibia, Africa) Vestas Sailrocket 2 piloted by project leader Paul Larsen traveled at more than 55.32 knots (exceeding 60 mph and 100 kph) over a nautical mile course on Walvis Bay. For a few moments during the run the boat exceeded 70 mph (112 kph) relative to the water surface. The two records are not yet official while pending verification.
Here’s a video of the record run (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnjyusAgk8I&feature=youtu.be)
The current outright official sailing speed record is 55.65 knots (103 kph) by Robert Douglas on a Kitesurf also done in Namibia over a 500 meter course. The current record over a nautical mile is held by Alain Thébault on l’Hydroptère at 51.36 knots (95 kph).
While enjoying the video, note how the downwind pontoon is flying out of the water. Contrast that to other sailboats where the downwind side of the boat is pushed down into the water.
On this map of the sailing course in Namibia note how the boat sails as close to the sand spit shore as possible so the offshore wind waves don’t have time and distance to build. That’s because flat water allows the fastest sailing.
Congratulations to Paul and his team for a fabulous success.
(The boat is currently constrained to a World record course which runs at right angles to the wind. Racing sailors know how much faster sail craft go when aimed on a Broad reach; some 45 degrees downwind. Having seen the boat speed accelerate at the end of the run when they turn it slightly downwind, I will not be surprised to see the Sailrocket reach 85 and possibly 90 mph — even if only for a few euphoric moments.)