Aiming to set a new record for the world's fastest sailboat, the Syroco team have come up with a radical concept, can the beat current record holder Sailrocket and competition SP80?

If having a top-flight speed sailor as a part of your team taking on the challenge of creating the world’s fastest sailboat is a mark of potential, then Syroco certainly starts off in impressive style.

Alex Caizergues is due to pilot as they attempt to break the world speed sailing record and is the co-founder of the project. He has a wealth of speed sailing records and wins to his name, including holding the outright world speed sailing record on two occasions on his kitesurfer.

Additionally, Caizergues has won the Kite Speed World Championship four times. So he certainly knows his stuff when it comes to going fast on the water and could well be a key part in this team’s ambition to create the fastest sailboat ever recorded.

The Syroco concept – named after the ‘sirocco’ warm wind originating in the sandy expanses of the Sahara desert – is essentially made up of three components: the hull or module; a kite, which provides driving force; and a hydrofoil, the purpose of which is to compensate for the vertical force and to provide a counter to the forces generated from the kite. This foil is on a long vertical with a T-foil at it’s base.

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The foil and the kite operate in tandem, so if the kite flies higher in the air the foil will rotate to sit deeper in the water and if the kite is closer to the surface, the foil will be move to be more horizontally aligned with the surface.

The Syroco prototype under test being towed by a RIB. Photo: Syroco

Although we may be used to foils operating as lifting surfaces, the foil used by the French-based Syroco team will broadly be used to keep the whole craft in the sea and prevent it flying off. In theory this balancing of forces from the foil and the power-generating kite, means the harder the kite pulls, the more negative lift will be required on the foil to maintain the equilibrium.

Clearly the faster the craft travels, the more drag is induced by the foil, but other than this, the forces should match up to create a situation where more power simply develops more speed, which develops more apparent wind and so power etc.

As with the current fastest sailboat in the world, Vestas Sailrocket 2, the team is looking into supercavitating foils – clearly an essential part of the project should they achieve their goal of 80 knots.

The Syroco team have already done some testing on a small prototype and, all going well, hope to be able to make an attempt on the record in 2022. They are up against another team in SP80 who are also looking to becoming the world’s fastest sailboat and are working to a similar timescale.

Follow the progress of Syrocco at their website.

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