World's fastest sailing 'boat' attains an average speed of 47.4 knots

The British speed sailing craft VESTAS Sailrocket – piloted by Australian Paul Larsen – has become the worlds fastest sailing ‘boat’ by attaining an average speed of 47.4 knots* over the 500 metre course. On the following run whilst on target for the outright world record it literally took off, flying over 30ft in the air upside down.

The purpose built craft attained peak speeds of 51.76 knots during the run – down the Walvis Bay speed-strip in Namibia. The speed is enough to give the team the ‘B’ class world record and Larsen the Australian National record. Most importantly to the team it gives them the unofficial title of worlds fastest ‘boat’, and leaves only the windsurfers and kite boarders to beat.

Pilot Paul Larsen commented: “Conditions were perfect and I was hungry to begin the record haul. After seven years of testing and refining this wonderful concept craft, I calmly felt that if it was going to happen… it would be today.

“Sailrocket flew down the course in perfect control. I sat at about 90-95% power and concentrated on sailing a good straight course close to the beach where the flat water was. I knew it was fast but was pretty surprised at the end at how fast it was… especially as I knew there was more to come.

“Malcolm’s design had performed just as he predicted. Of course I was pretty happy but the possibility of breaking the outright record was right before us so we turned the boat around and headed back up the magic mile for another crack at the record. At that stage I was unaware that we had punched a big hole through 50 knots. I didn’t want to just rattle the oppositions cage… I wanted to crush it”

On the second run Larsen sheeted the solid wing in hard to get full power. Sailrocket accelerated pulling 0.35 Gs up to a speed of 52 knots before taking off from the water at the end of the runway.

Larsen continued: “As soon as the whole nose lifted I thought ‘oh s**t… we had discussed the possibility of this and here we are’. The nose just kept coming up and I was pure and simply flying. No noise, no spray… she just kept going up until I was vertical. I waited for an impact but there was none.

“When she went fully inverted and there was still no impact I knew I was a long way up…at least the height of the rig. At this stage I thought ‘when she hits upside down… get out as soon as you can’. She slammed down hard and despite a few bruises and a smashed helmet… I was out of that cockpit in a flash. It was pretty gutting but then it comes with the turf. We are sailing prototype craft to new extremes here.

“I have no doubt that with a few tweaks to the geometry we could have absolutely smashed the outright and nautical mile records(having done 1000 meters at 46.4 knots). The dream is real!”

*The runs were supervised by speed sailings governing body the WSSRC and all speeds are still subject to their final ratification.