The wingmast machine is getting closer to the 50-knot barrier - and so are others


Out there in various far-flung places of the world where the water is flat and the wind always blows are a handful of fanatical sailors getting closer to the holy grail of speed sailing: the 50-knot barrier.

One of these is Aussie speedster Paul Larsen, who is pictured here atop SailRocket , the wingmasted machine he has been patiently winding up in Walvis Bay, Namibia. The good news is that at last Paul has been able to get the mighty SailRocket up to 42.4 knots.

He reports: ‘Whilst not an officially timed run it marks a significant milestone for the project. SailRocket was sailing in a very coarse and “safe” mode with twice the necessary rigging in the air and the big low speed rudder still down. The rudder alone is good for another 5 knots once raised!

‘The concept upon which she is based is just entering its element. We are not restrained by a power limit like all of our competitors. Our problems to date have been centred on controllability and this last run proved that we can post these runs without drama or issue. We have a lot of ‘easy’ speed still to come through quick and basic refinement.’

But the bad news is that rivals are edging even closer to the big 50-knot limit. Says Paul: ‘The windsurfers are currently on standby in the ‘French-trench’, Hydroptère is being refitted for an assault in March, the Macquarie Innovations team are constantly awaiting their day in Australia and everyone is nervously eyeing the kitesurfers after their amazing record haul a couple of months ago in Luderitz, Namibia.

’50 knots will be history very soon and one thing is for sure… it will not mark the end of anything. More likely it will mark a new beginning and one for which the concept behind SailRocket is aptly suited.’