Vestas Sailrocket has failed to break the World Speed Sailing record on a windless final day

The Vestas Sailrocket team’s final day to attempt to break the World Speed Sailing record ended in disappointment for the crew and skipper Paul Larsen. The forecast was not good today (29 October 2009) and there was very little wind at Walvis Bay, Namibia, for the team to get stuck into. However, despite not breaking the record, skipper Paul felt there were alot of positives to take back to the boatyard:

“Well, it looks like it’s over. Today was officially the last day of our record attempt. the wind wasn’t forecast to blow… and it didn’t. Soon we will be packing up VESTAS Sailrocket for the last time on the lawns of the Walvis Bay Yacht Club.
Yesterday I felt pretty choked up at the end of our last run. We topped 50 knots for two of yesterdays three runs despite average winds of only 22 and 23 knots on each. The boat was in brilliant form. As easy to sail as any other well developed boat. No evil vices, no tricks… just easy, fast sailing. Very few boats could just go and bang out 50 knots as easily as this boat can, run after run. I feel that we have finally refined her to the point where we could put any decent, thrill seeking sailor in that boat and send them down the course on their 50 knot way.
I savoured every moment of the day. When it was over, I felt that I could have just sat out there on speed-spot with Helena and the boat alone for hours thinking of the journey that had just ended. I walked back to the cockpit in the twilight and thanked Helena for sticking with me and my crazy dreams all this way. Then we lowered the rig and brought her back across the lagoon for the last time.
It seems that we have been hitting some sort of speed limiter around 52 knots (60mph). Time and time again we have hit this peak speed. We have tried sailing in different conditions and using different settings. I have modified the fences on the foils and polished the surfaces  until they are mirror like. So, something is not right. Even in gusts to 27 knots we never hit the mid-high 50 peaks necessery to drag up a 50+ average over 500 meters. The foil is obviously still working though as the boat sails beautifully… but she seems reluctant to go faster. No doubt we could work through this problem. If we had one more shot then I would chop off about 25% from the rudder and remove 50% of the fence area. We only need to find another 2 knots…less in fact! Unfortunately this would require a whole nother world record period with the time and expense that goes with it. It’s a big comittment. If it was our only option… then that is what I would do.

But it’s not. That same resource can go into the real future of the project. As a team we will discuss this. We know we can go faster… I also know that Hydroptere, Maquarie Innovations and the kitesurfers can go faster. The kiters are set to tear up Luderitz lagoon in the coming weeks and I’m sure they have fire in their eyes.
This morning was terrible. The reality of the situation is beginning to sink in. We didn’t make it to the summit. We achieved a hell of a lot… but the final chapter hurts like a mother. Oh well, get over it and move on. My appetite to succeed in this field has not been satisfied… in fact, my hunger grows.
I would like to thank all of you who have followed or endeavour. You have all supported us in one way or the other. I even like the criticism’s. It keeps it real and usually just serves to motivate me more. I read all the comments posted relating to our project and consider them all. VESTAS have been brilliant in their support. They insisted from the start that they will stand shoulder to shoulder with us and have stayed true to their word. I couldn’t have hoped for a better title sponsor. The journey, the passion, the thrills and spills… they have all been real. I hope it has come across that way.
So this marks the end for this current boat. A boat that will oneday be remembered as a true pioneering breakthrough. I will put her away in cotton wool with full documentation of her settings and configuration. She deserves respect. Malcolm designed a wonderful craft that managed to make it to the end  of a very tough learning process for we humans. Both myself and the boat carry the scars from that struggle. I’m proud of them all.
But… one end also marks a new beginning. Some of you have been quite perceptive actually. We will announce more within the week.
Yep… the hunger remains alright. Thanks again to you all.”

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