While attempting the outright world speed record Vestas Sailrocket crashes at high speeds

This month Vestas Sailrocket traveled out to Namibia to attempt the Outright World Speed Record. Last year the team set a record of 47.36 knots over the 500 metre course. (Unofficially she is of the worlds fastest boat, but still 3.21 knots short of the Outright world record currently held by the kitesurfers.)

The boat managed 42.5 knots over a 500 metre run with a peak around 44.7 knots in an average wind speed of 19.5 knots. The run was flawless, according to the skipper Paul Larsen.

On Friday (13 March), the team scheduled its second run, which unfortunately resulted in a high-speed crash and injuries to Larsen. The skipper was hospitalised, but has been subsequently released without suffering serious harm.

Vestas SailRocket was extensively damaged, and after examination it appears that a lashing on the stay that holds the main beam forward failed and the beam swung aft.

Sailrocket crash on previous record attempt ( Read previous story here ).

Paul Larsen explained:

“A world record attempt on Friday the 13th??? Well we haven’t had much luck weather-wise during this record session so we will take it whenever it comes. Unusual amounts of rain inland have affected the normal ‘flows’ of wind up the coast. It’s becoming tiring as we are all sitting around making work and itching to get wet. Forecast winds keep moving away from us like a mirage and when we finally catch them they have usually weakened to the point where we don’t even go out.”

“Obviously the last couple of days have been pretty strange from my perspective. One moment I’m going 47 knots with the glorious Walvis Bay ‘speed-spot’ stretched out before me and ready for the taking… the next I’m on a hospital Gurney sort of aware that I’m asking the same question over and over… ‘what happened’?”

“It appears that a lashing on the stay that holds the main beam forward failed and the beam swung aft. The huge side loads on the main foil then levered the hull to beam frame out of the heavy carbon forks which they attach to on the beam and allowed the main hull to rotate as if it was attached to an industrial lathe. The free inboard end of the beam then shot back towards the cockpit. It was all over in milliseconds…

“I do recall jamming the control full aft as she began to roundup… but that was it and now I know why.”