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Carbon Fibre Boat sets New Sailing Record

The Vestas Sailrocket team reached speeds of 59.23 knots (around 70mph) over the 500 metre course at Walvis Bay in Namibia. Sailrocket’s peak speed during the record-breaking run was 62.53 knots in winds of just 25 knots. The outright world speed sailing record is set by taking the average speed of a craft between two points set 500 metres apart. The previous record stood at 55.65 knots (around 64mph). Sailrocket has added now another almost 4 knots!

SP-High Modulus have been involved with the Sailrocket project from the early stages and supplied materials including their own prepreg systems and some dry reinforcements, along with technical services to the project. We have included some photos below of the team creating the sailrocket.

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Pilot and project leader Paul Larsen noted that setting the new record was payback for ten years of hard work, he told New Scientist;

The acceleration just kept coming. It was like a rev limiter was removed. Things went into fast forward and my mind had to race with the decision-making process required for this new reality, i.e. can I stop the thing at the end. We have now hit over 60 knots a number of times and are just starting to explore this wonderful new world. The boat is in its element. It’s truly a machine in harmony with plenty more still to offer.

Next the team will attempt to take the outright record and average over 60 knots.

photos copyright:  Helena Darvelid – VestasSailrocket.

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158 Comments

  1. I guess I’m dumb, but doesn’t the speed count for how much wind you have going and if you’re going to break a record don’t the other participants have to have the same type of wind output so to judge it equally? I’m just curious. Can anyone help me out on this question?

  2. Looks like you sped some of that footage up guys. At some point a yacht is not a yacht with this degree of engineering. Lets see you do the Sydney to Hobart!

  3. Right, ok you need a boat that can sail all points of the wind. You can drop a rock and it will go 160 mph down. If you crash in this rocket , will you survive?

  4. GREAT JOB.. completely amazed..There has been the windsurf speed record competition in namibia too last december. They reached 56 knots of max speed. Thanks that u showed me what really means to go that fast cuz i couldn’t really figure it out watching the videos of that tiny channel.. wow..

  5. I’ve grown up sailing all my life. Sailed a number of times in a Hobie Trifoiler. This boat is even more amazing–in that it’s more ‘engineered’ To get an appreciation for this, one must start with learning to sail. The basics. Sail a small sunfish, then sail a 20′, then a catamaran, finally, Windsurfing…then you may appreciate this machine. To ride on this is many times more exciting than a fast powerboat/jetboat–because there is no motor, but all the while a beauty all it’s own.

  6. This program and team did exactly what it was concieved to achieve – and it has room to go further – expanding what we know about the limits of sailing speed. This said – I believe Hydroptere is also a very important craft as it has practical application for open sea conditions. I would like to see Hydroptere fitted with a wing sail in open water. The AC 72’s have adopted hydrofoils and are scooting along at 40 plus knots – the world is watching and it is learning – FAST – thank you Paul ++++

  7. Ratified Records – forever. Read the story of Bernard Smith – a Jewish Rocket Scientist who was also a sailor – the hommage to him in the name. He developed the sidewinder missile for the US navy and fired the first liquid fueled rocket – self taught before being admitted to university as an adult to study Physics. Malcom Barnsley overcame one obstacle after another for ten years. Amazing with the record climbing they did not just catch it – they destroyed it.

  8. not all engines require fossil fuels. still, that’s an incredible achievement, congratulations team Vestas.

  9. The fastest I have ever sailed is 35 knots – Paul darn near doubled that. This man has more courage and intestinal fortitude – yet he is a happy warrior – History is what you get to see happen here – and yes it is awesome

  10. The fastest I have ever sailed is 35 knots – Paul darn near doubled that. This man has more courage and intestinal fortitude – yet he is a happy warrior – History is what you get to see happen here – and yes it is awesome

  11. no they are done for the season – the boat needs to be strengthened and the foils tweaked to bust 70 – and I hope they enjoy the rest they have earned and are funded to come back and fully explore what this boat and design is capable of. 65 is what she was set up to do and she delivered and more. Prudence dictates that they take a break. The venue is so tight for this speed – very good work on everyone’s part.

  12. no they are done for the season – the boat needs to be strengthened and the foils tweaked to bust 70 – and I hope they enjoy the rest they have earned and are funded to come back and fully explore what this boat and design is capable of. 65 is what she was set up to do and she delivered and more. Prudence dictates that they take a break. The venue is so tight for this speed – very good work on everyone’s part.

  13. Their foils peak at close to 70 knots and can be further modified to deliver higher speed. The boat scantlings are at their limits around the peak of 68 knots so them being prudent dictates that the boat has to be strengthened to go further and this season is at an end. You are correct – the kites have a theoretical limit of 60 knots – which is exactly why they went to 65.45 knots on the 500 meter record. This boat and concept can be set up to break 70 knots. Awesome development work.

  14. Their foils peak at close to 70 knots and can be further modified to deliver higher speed. The boat scantlings are at their limits around the peak of 68 knots so them being prudent dictates that the boat has to be strengthened to go further and this season is at an end. You are correct – the kites have a theoretical limit of 60 knots – which is exactly why they went to 65.45 knots on the 500 meter record. This boat and concept can be set up to break 70 knots. Awesome development work.

  15. Are you perhaps visually impaired? If your eyes are working then you perhaps need to work on your social skills – this is indeed very special and it is not a matter of opinion it is a matter of fact. What is being displayed here is history and developed technology delivering the holy grail of sailing performance. Please do not denegrate this achievement in any way.

  16. Are you perhaps visually impaired? If your eyes are working then you perhaps need to work on your social skills – this is indeed very special and it is not a matter of opinion it is a matter of fact. What is being displayed here is history and developed technology delivering the holy grail of sailing performance. Please do not denegrate this achievement in any way.

  17. Which is why they travel to Namibia and sail in Walvis Bay. The off shore breeze and relatively sheltered waters allow this boat to display it’s true tallents in very tight conditions – when skippered by a guy like Paul Larson. What you are seeing is in now way “normal” it is extraordinary. Ten years of effort in the making – this is a very special demonstration of developed technologies.

  18. Which is why they travel to Namibia and sail in Walvis Bay. The off shore breeze and relatively sheltered waters allow this boat to display it’s true tallents in very tight conditions – when skippered by a guy like Paul Larson. What you are seeing is in now way “normal” it is extraordinary. Ten years of effort in the making – this is a very special demonstration of developed technologies.

  19. Remember the movie Waterworl? Think of this boat, Deacon in the Waterworld yelling to Mariner “Get him!” and then watching the boat, at 2:05, soar away 75 mph! 😀

  20. Remember the movie Waterworl? Think of this boat, Deacon in the Waterworld yelling to Mariner “Get him!” and then watching the boat, at 2:05, soar away 75 mph! 😀

  21. The wave tops are being blown back out to sea in this video, so she is not sailing along a lee shore. This is also why the water is calmest near the beach.

  22. The wave tops are being blown back out to sea in this video, so she is not sailing along a lee shore. This is also why the water is calmest near the beach.

  23. The wind is blowing offshore as is evidenced by the wave tops being blown back out to sea. This is just like the Santa Ana condition in Southern California where you can get a very fast sail by going in very close to the beach to find flat water and high winds.

  24. The wind is blowing offshore as is evidenced by the wave tops being blown back out to sea. This is just like the Santa Ana condition in Southern California where you can get a very fast sail by going in very close to the beach to find flat water and high winds.

  25. Every wind indicator in the video shows the wind coming from the sea, the lady’s hair blowing as she speaks into the radio, the list of the sailboat, the waves, etc. She’s sailing along a lee shore so fetch would not explain the small seas. Perhaps the wind had just picked up recently?

  26. Every wind indicator in the video shows the wind coming from the sea, the lady’s hair blowing as she speaks into the radio, the list of the sailboat, the waves, etc. She’s sailing along a lee shore so fetch would not explain the small seas. Perhaps the wind had just picked up recently?

  27. I love tech. I know one of you people out there are thinking sail powered flight!!! I know I see it, Thanks for making the world a more wonderful place!!! NICE WORK!!

  28. Holy crap nice job. What i dont understand though is why there are no white caps? I race 420’s on around the hudson and whenever it reaches 20 knots we get like two foot white caps.

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  36. Baring an astounding advance in the efficiency of their rigs since 2010, I doubt that the Luderitz kite sailors will approach the new record. Their rigs are fast in huge winds, but are comparitively inefficient. They would need in excess of 55 knots knots wind to approach VSR2 speeds- I doubt that Luderitz sees that on their strongest day. Moreso, I doubt that the kite surfers could actually harness and control that amount of energy. I also think that VSR2 may be near their foil limits.

  37. @ 1:57, favorite part; “Goodbye Hydroptere.” Larsen knew he had it in the bag. With their astonishing 65.4K outright speed record on Saturday 24 Nov 12, Sailrocket team has had a tremendous month.

  38. The offset of the hull is designed to do exactly what you have said. Remember, despite sailing in 25 knot average winds, the apparent wind generated by Sailrocket’s forward speed becomes about 70 knots, at roughly the apparent wind angle that the hull is set to the float pods. You can be sure that the the design engineers didn’t make so obvious an error as to mistakenly set the pods askew to the hull.

  39. Outstanding accomplishment! Our congratulations to Paul and his team. Keep on sailing. Yes! I have gone that fast powered by the wind on an iice boat, On liquid water what a rush!

  40. Guys this is just awesome in so many ways. You have moved the bars so much and you deserve every plaudit there is for this. CONGRATULATIONS.But by they way. Where are you going to stop? 🙂

  41. Paul and the guys have just smashed the outright record again a few minutes ago with a peak of 67.74 knots and 65.37 knots average! That’s 121km/hr and 125.45 km/hr peak.Now THAT is sailing !!

  42. Wouldn’t the hull have smaller air resistance if it was going straight ahead, instead of “strafing” a little to the left all the time? It just looks very weird to me.

  43. Fantastic effort by the team! Amazing video too! I remember the beginnings of Malcolm’s design efforts, almost thirty years ago at Portland Speed Week, and this performance now is the reward for an awful lot of persistence! We used to dream about the “forty knot sailboat”, and now the sixty knot version is reality! On behalf of all the old, mad, lunatic fringe of Speed Sailors from the Johnnie Walker Speed Week days, I offer hearty congratulations to the Vesta team!

  44. I felt like I was riding with you Paul, some great video, crikey the fastest I’ve ever been in a boat is 38kts, and that was using 120 horses of Mercury power, not a measly 25kts of wind!

  45. Amazing! Can’t wait to see the next generation craft. Would that be a double fin front and back so when the craft is flying at speed, nothing but the two fins touches the water? Would double airfoils be necessary to keep the force balanced? Will the next generation vestas have a tail like an airplane instead and still use a single fin? Quite exciting to watch the next frontier in speed sailing manifest. I’m already wondering what new design lies ahead.

  46. The Chuck Yeager of sailing and I am not sure if it is coincidence or not, but the X1 was the same colour. Sir Malcolm, Sir Russel, Sir Paul? I would hope so.Absolutely gobsmacking what you fellows have achieved this week after 10 long years of work. Brilliant! Insprational!

  47. Have been watching you online for a number of years now and really thrilled for you that you have smashed the record. Your web site giving details of how you have been progressing with design ideas etc has been fascinating….Brilliant, Congratulations.

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