Boat plane takes aim at world speed record

5th March 2011. Cowes. Uk. Pictures of the new Vestas Sailrocket 2. Shown here as the speed record yacht leaves the build shed. Credit: Lloyd Images
The Vestas Sailrocket 2 is built for one purpose - to smash the world speed record. The team, headed by Australian sailor Paul Larsen, has designed a boat that performs like a boat in the water, and an aeroplane above it.

'A large part of this boat is flying, it's supported by aerodynamics. When it's going at high speed, it's like a well-built paper aeroplane,' says Larson.

Sailrocket 2's rivals aren't boats - they're kite-surfers, who aren't bound by the limitations of boats, which rely on rudders.

Most boats become unstable at over 50 knots. Conventional rudders - or foils - begin to become unstable as water turns to vapour round on one side, causing unpredictable, and generally spectacular, loss of stability.

Sailrocket 2 'balances' the rudder against the sail, to achieve a sort of equilibrium.

Vestas Sailrocket 2 on the water


'The boat is based on this whole new idea,' Larsen says. 'It's got no overturning forces. It's like someone trying to push you over by pushing at the soles of your feet.'

Sailrocket's last attempt on the record was in Namibia last year. But Larsen says that they may return as early as April 2012 to try again.

Sailrocket 2 was launched in April last year in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK - and rapidly sped towards its goal.
Within 23 days from launch, this radical and highly compromised, one-off prototype boat was hitting over 50 knots.

'The Sailrocket 2 is focused on making the breakthroughs necessary to overcome the conventional limits of high speed sailing. We didn't make the breakthrough we were looking for in 2011, but we are very definitely in the right laboratory with the right tools.'

The current world record is held by American kite surfer, Rob Douglas. It was set in Luderitz, Namibia and stands at 55.65 knots,64 mph.

More including video of this unique craft at sailrocket.com