Vestas Sailrocket waiting on the wind

The Vestas Sailrocket project remain plagued by light winds. In his blog Paul Larsen describes the waiting - Friday is a maybe and Monday is playing with us. It looks like we are right on the edge of some strong stuff but it comes and goes with each forecast. I can't wait to let this boat go in a 25 knot plus day. Meanwhile we go over the boat . . . and sit and wait . . . and watch the news coming up from Luderitz where they are getting plenty of wind. Great to see the windsurfers beating their own records and edging ever closer to 50 knots. I look forward to sending some big numbers back down their way soon. Come on Walvis . . . jokes over.

The Vestas Sailrocket 2 project returned to the waters of Walvis Bay, Namibia this September with a new hydrofoil package which they hope will bring them an Outright world speed sailing record. The record currently stands at 55.65 knots (64 mph) and is held by American Kite Surfer Rob Douglas.

VSR2 was built in the Vestas R+D facilities on the Isle of Wight and launched in the Medina River in March 2011. The project then relocated to Namibia where ideal conditions occur on a regular basis.

From its launch in the UK, Vestas Sailrocket 2 rapidly progressed up the speed sailing ladder and after only 23 runs, hit speeds over 50 knots down the magical mile long course at Walvis Bay's 'Speed-spot'. The team then made continual improvements to the boat and tried a number of underwater foil configurations but seemed to be hitting a 'glass ceiling' in performance in the low 50 knot speed range regardless of which foil options they tried or how much wind they sailed in.

Walvis Bay, NamibiaClick image for a larger image

VSR2 is indeed a radical craft. It looks perhaps more like a plane than a boat because a lot of attention has been focused on the aerodynamic efficiency and stability of the craft however, she still relies very much on the hydrodynamics to allow her to carve across the wind.

It is based on a concept where all the overturning forces typically associated with sailing craft are removed. This allows the boat to use the wind created by its own speed to generate a lot of its ultimate power without actually getting overpowered. Whilst VSR2 might actually be sailing in only 25 knots of real wind, at full speed the lightweight, carbon fibre boat and its rigid wing sail feels like it is sailing in over 60 knots of wind and yet doesn't require traditional systems of weights and levers to remain stable.

G New
9 November 2012 9:10 GMT


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