…and then capsizes. Matthew Sheahan reports
Things had gone well for the L’Hydroptere team over the last few weeks. The consistent northerly breeze off Napoléon beach at Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône just to the west of Marseille has provided near perfect conditions for the French speed record team to gradually press harder on the gas and see the top speed of this extraordinary 60foot foiling trimaran increase day by day. With speeds regularly in the early 50s the team was confident of breaking the outright world speed record measured over 500m. They already have the record for the world’s fastest speed over 1 nautical mile.
But, having waited two days for the weather to moderate over the weekend, the team’s plans to break the ultimate world sailing speed record came to an abrupt halt as L’Hydroptere capsized during a squall. Just moments before she had reached an incredible peak speed of 61 knots!
Here’s how the team published the news on Sunday afternoon, shortly after the capsize.
A milestone in the history of l’Hydrotpère!
l’Hydroptère has just recorded a speed peak of 61 knots this morning. Thus, the flying trimaran is the first sailing boat to reach such an extraordinary speed.
Wind conditions were pretty tough with an established wind at 35-38 knots and gusts at over 45 knots off Napoléon beach at Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, which is the speed base of l’Hydroptère, certified by the WSSRC.
In these conditions, the trimaran started the first full speed run of the day. Taking advantage of the established wind, the speed progressively increased: 50, 55 and then 61 knots at top speed!
The squall that provoked this acceleration was really powerful and resulted in l’Hydroptère’s capsizing.
For the moment, Alain Thébault and his crew are preparing the towage of the trimaran, which will be moored in Fos sur Mer before being put in dry dock.
The crew members are suffering from little injuries but they are above all delighted with this speed peak which confirms the boat’s potential. They are impatient to get back to the attempts and stabilize those impressive speeds.
Last week I sailed aboard L’Hydroptere for two days, during which time we clocked 42.85 knots. You can listen to the run and an interview with skipper Alain Thebault on our podcast.