- Matthew Sheahan
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Sailrocket 2 – How Does it Work?
Paul Larsen's Sailrocket is one of the most extraordinary and fascinating pieces of yacht design work I have ever come across. It is also one of the trickiest to understand, particularly as it's asymmetry presents just about every component bar the foils at a weird angle.
Yet the concept not only works and has set a new world record but has, as Larsen says, ‘smashed the glass ceiling,' and provided a genuine breakthrough in high performance sailing. Chris Hornzee-Jones, who was responsible for the design of the wing and the foils of Sailrocket 2, told me a few days ago in an interview for a future feature that he believed that speeds well into the 70s and even possible 80 knots were now possible in the future.
This may sound like an extreme claim based more on the euphoria of setting a new world record than factual evidence, but I for one believe him. Sailrocket's achievement has pushed high performance yacht design into new territory.
So the big question is, how does Sailrocket work?
In the latest issue of Yachting World (Feb 2013) we explain how this innovative craft works and why it is such a clever piece of engineering. It is also a story of how a team stuck doggedly to their goals despite serious setbacks and some horrendous crashes.
While sailing records seem to get broken every month it is easy to take them for granted at times, but this on is different, a genuine sailing milestone and one that is well worth a close look. For me the story was certainly one of the most fascinating to research and write.
In the meantime, here's an excerpt from the eight page feature on how Sailrocket 2 works. And while it may take a little longer than you expect to figure it out remember, it took the team 10 years.
Another reminder that breaking speed records can be an agonisingly slow process.