A possible land speed record and the pending launch of a new speed machine

The progress of Sailrocket, the speed machine in which Paul Larsen hopes to break the world speed record, has temporarily been put on hold while Larsen heads off to compete in the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre that starts this weekend. See news story here. Having made its debut at the Southampton Boat Show, Sailrocket was taken back to its Southampton base for completion in preparation for the record attempt which should take place once Larsen completes the TJV and his forthcoming attempt at the Jules Verne aboard Tracy Edwards’ 110ft catamaran Qatar 2006.

In the meantime, there are several other world speed records bubbling away including Richard Jenkins’ Windjet project. See previous news story here. 

Not satisfied with just one record attempt, Team Windjet hope break three; the land, water and ice records in two different craft – land/ice and water.

The first ice attempt took place earlier this year Canada but poor conditions forced the team to abandon and head back to England. Jenkins (pictured left) commented: “Despite the appalling conditions in Canada and North America we were pleased with the results. We learnt a huge amount about what we need to do achieve our goal. Ice will be the most difficult to do because it’s so hard to find good quality ice and good quality wind at the same time. Actually being in the right place at the right time can be a very long and expensive operation.”

Having spent the majority of the summer transforming the craft from ice to land, Jenkins is now keen to have a go at the world land speed record which currently stands at 116.7mph (187.8km/h). Chatting from the team base at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire today, Jenkins said: “We are currently on standby. The forecast is for fairly big winds next week. Probably not record-breaking winds but they will certainly be good winds for testing.”

One of the most interesting projects to come from the Windjet yard will undoubtedly be the unveiling of the watercraft, which Jenkins was keen to remain tight-lipped about. It’s taken two years to complete all the background work but Jenkins says it’s nearly complete ready to start building and an announcement should be made later this year. Apparently it’s totally different to Larsen’s Sailrocket, carries solid sail technology and is a fairly practical design able to sail in a bit of a chop.

Like all water-based speed record attempts, one of the most important aspects of the challenge is choosing the right location. While Larsen has plans to head off to the Middle East and check out locations there (see Yachting World magazine November 2003 issue), Jenkins reckons he’s going to stick to his Norfolk option, commenting: “Brancaster, on the north-west Norfolk coast is great location and to be honest we can’t really afford to go elsewhere else. There are places in the south of France but they are expensive and the costs mounts up very quickly, particularly when you’re on location for many months. The other advantage is that it’s close to our base at Lincoln.”

Although breaking the 50kts barrier on water is by far the most difficult to achieve, technically, each record (water, land, and sea) is in its own right phenomenally difficult. Jenkins added: “We’re now at the stage where I know we can do two (land and ice) and the craft has shown it can do it but we just need the conditions to do it in.”