Macquarie Innovation (the new Yellow Pages Endeavour) is currently preparing for her crack at breaking the 50kt barrier

It’s now 11 years since the Australian sailor Simon McKeon sailing Yellow Pages Endeavour broke the World Sailing Speed Record of 46.52kts (86.52 km/h) in 19-20kts of wind over a 500m course. While there have been many challenges to the record, no one has successfully recorded a faster time. The nearest anyone’s recorded recently was last December when, in 40kts of wind, Finian Maynard broke the world windsurfing speed record with a time of 46.24kts (see news story here) . Although he came astonishingly close to McKeon’s outright record, in speed terms, there’s still a long way to go.

Having set the record in 1993 the Yellow Pages team decided to continue to push the limits of speed sailing and designed a new craft – Macquarie Innovation – in an attempt to be the first ever to break the 50kt barrier.

Based on the same concept as Yellow Pages Endeavour, this new boat is the culmination of all the design lessons learnt from the Yellow Pages campaign as well as some new ideas. Since her launch, she’s been put through a thorough testing schedule at her training base at Sandy Point in Australia.

The Macquarie speed sailing team was on site at Sandy Point during last November and December but the strongest wind they saw was 17kts which didn’t bode well for speed training. Tim Daddo of the Macquarie Speed Sailing Team spoke to about the most recent training session: “It was particularly frustrating as this was the third major attempt that we have had with Macquarie Innovation and it was the third time that the weather had deserted us. It costs GBP1,300 for each 28-day period that we use and needless to say, these light winds are costing us more than just low boat speeds. We did manage to get the boat up to 41kts in this wind (which we were quite happy about), but we need 20 knots to push over 50kts of boat speed.”

The team is currently contemplating the next move. Although they are happy with the way the boat is going in up to 17-18kts of winds, they now know they need to see 20kts before they can make world history again. Dado continued: “We believe also that Sandy Point is the best venue for us and it is just a matter of time before we are presented with the right conditions. The last two plus years have not been kind to us with regard to weather conditions, so on a probability basis, one would expect that the odds must turn in our favour soon. So it is now down to forward planning and bringing our team of 14 (probably the most experienced speed sailing team in the world) back together in an effort to be the first people in the world to sail faster than 50 knots.”

Keep an eye on for more news on the Macquarie speed sailing project.