After a fast day yesterday, Paul Larsen and the team are hopeful for success in their last two days

The Vestas Sailrocket team – in Walvis Bay, Namibia to attempt to break the World Sailing Speed Record – are down to two days to do it (read previous story here). The forecast today is favourable for the team – who are hoping for success after a great day yesterday. Paul Larsen, the Australian skipper, claimed to have sailed “the best run [he has] ever done”. They hit 49.25 knots yesterday – only a couple off the record.

Paul Larsen wrote last night in his blog:

“All in all a great day of speed sailing. I sailed the best speed run I have ever done. Alex sits beside me going through the Trimble GPS files. We did a run somewhere around 49.25/.5 mark. I stuck it in close to the shore, sheeted in to a 10 degree wing angle and banged the main flap in hard. The rest of the run was a piece of cake. The wind was solid but I still don’t think I quite got the ‘money’ gust. A slight dip in the middle of the course cost us a couple of knots. 20 seconds either side might have made things go the other way. It’s one of the downsides of a boat that takes a long time to turn around. But I tell you… it is just so much nicer in tight on the shore.

We all thought that that was a record run… this time last year it would have been!

As soon as I saw that it wasn’t… we headed back up the course. We stopped at the timing hut to run in and double check the GPS data on the laptop. The wind was building. I figured that if I sailed perfectly in those prescribed conditions… then all that I needed was a bit more of that wind-juice in the old Vestas Sailrocket carbuerettor. We went up the course one more time with fire in our eyes. I wanted to end this on this day. They radioed in gusts of 28 and then the odd 29 knots. I was still going to go for it… so we went ahead and put the rig up. As soon as the wing went upright, she turned into a beast again. Then the calls came in of gusts of 30 and 31 knots. Godammnit… we put the rig back down… then we got calls of 32. I had no option but to can the day. We gave it a good shot, sailed when we should have… and then just got overwhelmed. Now… looking at the run data, we didn’t have as much wind as we thought we had down the course. The nice thing was that we hit a peak just under 51 knots… and averaged somewhere around 49.5. This puts us less than a knot off the kitesurfers and less than two off Hydroptere.

Out of 9 runs here during this session… we have done 5 runs with extended peaks over 50 knots and beaten our own personal best (and ‘B’ class world record) three times. [Thursday] is our last day… and it is forecast to blow once more. [Today] it is 50 OR BUST.

Electronics are just a nightmare in this game. Our latest and greatest new Hi Def onboard camera (Contour HD in case you were wondering) got a rapid dismissal from the back of the boat just prior to todays run. We were all set to go and everyone was waiting and there I was, helmet and neck brace on… fiddling around at the back of the boat trying to get the thing to record… again. Not for long though… it should make a nice home for some little crab out on speed spot. After six days sailing… that piece of trash never recorded one run. Shame it couldn’t record it’s own demise… not internally anyway.

Yep… it was never going to be smooth sailing. Let’s hope that tomorrows epic shot at the big title makes it all worth while. Todays run was pretty sweet. Two knots to go.”

This morning (Wednesday 28 October) Paul added:

“We’re off. The teams fired up and the wind is building.

The only thing I am nervous about today is that the wind will not build enough to let us shine… If the wind comes I reckon we will have a good shot at this title. Thanks to The boys from Hydroptere for giving us some TRIMBLE tips. Good sports those guys. Hopefully we will soon see you guys up on the roof of the speed sailing world.”

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