UK designed and built boat will attempt to break the world speed record off African coast

Vestas Sailrocket is to make its first WSSRC ratified attempt on the world speed sailing record over a 28-day period commencing on Sunday 23 November.

The UK designed and built boat is currently based in Walvis Bay, Namibia. The team behind the four-year project now feel that the time is right to attempt to break the speed record.

Project manager/pilot Paul Larsen (pictured) commented, “We have only called in the WSSRC because we feel we are ready. I feel that we are beginning to tame the beast…to get her under control. Real speed will only come with control. Only now do we feel that we have the boat we specified quite a few years ago. It’s been one hell of a battle to get her to the stage where she is ready to go toe to toe with the best that have ever been. The last few runs we made have really boosted our confidence in the boat and what she can deliver. Going up against the official clock will focus the mind like nothing else. If the wind is right Vestas Sailrocket is ready… I know what my job will involve. Personally I am more excited than nervous about the possibilities of what the next month or so may hold.”

Vestas Sailrocket will be the first serious attempt on the outright record by a UK boat since the legendary Crossbow’s I and II set the pace from 1972-86. Its designer, Malcolm Barnsley, expained: “Reaching this stage has been a stressful experience from a design perspective. This boat represents our first stab at a unique concept of stability in sailing and we aren’t just going out there to see it work… but rather to make this Mk I better than anything that has been.

“There were times when we thought the task would overwhelm us… but here we are. Sometimes, in many disciplines, just making it to the start-line is a huge achievement in its own right. In the context of this record, that’s where we are now. I chose to pursue this design many years ago because I believed that it had the right ingredients to live in the knife-edge world of very high speed sailing. We shall soon see if it has what it takes to be the fastest ever. I don’t expect it to be easy!”

The record attempt will take place out of Walvis Bay yacht Club from 23 November until 20 December. The team will be on permanent standby to make the most of any weather windows that come their way. A successful 500m run required to break the record will only take around 19.5 seconds.

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