Paul Larsen sets date for Sailrocket speed machine launch, and Windjet team build another challenger

Sailrocket, the wacky-looking, speed machine built to break the outright world speed sailing record, will be launched at the first day of the Southampton Boat Show in September.

This interesting 30ft carbonfibre flying machine designed by Malcolm Barnsley will be sailed by Paul Larsen, the 32 year-old Australian who was involved with Pete Goss’ Team Philips campaign. “The plan is to reach a speed of 50 knots over the 500m course (in 19.5 seconds) and beat the outright speed sailing record.” Said Larsen.

Since we reported on the Sailrocket project earlier in the year (see, the build programme is has been steadily progressing with a launch day set for the first day of the Southampton Boat Show.

Larsen added: “As the boat is a product of local talent and support we feel this is a perfect opportunity to unveil to the public something that has been gradually maturing under their noses for some time. Southampton has a long and proud history in both the maritime and aviation fields. The concept behind Sailrocket uses a combination of these two disciplines which will endeavour to propel this spectacular craft to speeds over 50 knots.”

Weighing just 140kg (similar to a Hobie 16) Sailrocket is more of a proa than a catamaran with two tiny planing surfaces set on a fuselage. And the most unusual thing about this new design is the fact that it flies the leeward hull. The 22sq m rig is positioned on a pod to leeward, with the shrouds always set to windward but, as Larsen points out, unlike most proas, such as Yellow Pages Endeavour, which are effectively one-tack boats, Sailrocket will have a moveable rig.

While we’re on the subject of speed, news has just reached us of the British Windjet team who have suspended their recent attempt on the ice speed record which currently stands at 143 mph.

The team, including Richard Jenkins (Project Director and Pilot), Bill Green and Peter Whipp have been working on the project for the last five years with the aim to challenge the wind powered land, ice and water speed records this year. However, despite travelling over 3,000 miles and visiting numerous lakes this winter the right combination of smooth ice and strong wind did not coincide and the fastest speed reached was just shy of 90 mph at Ghost Lake, near Calgary Alberta.

The Windjet ice vehicle will now be shipped back to the UK, and transformed into land record mode at RAF Waddington, in readiness for appropriate conditions to challenge the land record.

In the meantime, while Team Windjet are waiting for the right conditions to attempt the land speed record, they’re hard at work on their watercraft which will be another challenger to join Larsen’s Sailrocket for the world speed sailing record attempt later in the year.