A sail-powered boat has cracked 100 km/h for the first time, thanks to a ‘Wing-Sail’ designed by a British consultancy that specialises in wind turbine design.
Sailrocket 2 set the record last week, and the speed 54.08 knots (100.1 km/h) the craft achieved has been recognised by the World Sailing Speed Record Council as the new mark in Class B for vessels traversing a 500 metre course. The speed is higher than any other vessel recorded in the Council’s lists and is the only recorded speed over 100 km/h.
The craft wrested the 500m record from the hands of kite-surfers, who enjoy the advantage of lighter craft and the ability to get sails higher into the air where winds are sometimes stronger. The Sailrocket, by contrast, has had to endure all sorts of strengthening in order to support its sail, touches the water at three points and allows someone to sit in it, instead of hanging on beneath a kite.
Sailrocket 2’s design relies on a single wing-sail, a rigid carbon fibre contraption set up specifically to catch the prevailing winds in Walvis Bay, Namibia. Last week those winds were gusting at around 27 knots, but the design of the wing-sail enabled the Sailrocket to proceed at a rather more rapid pace to claim the record, occasioning a triumphant tweet to the effect that the team 'smashed the arse off' the previous record.
The team has since claimed, in this blog post, to have yesterday averaged 55 knots (101.9 km/h) over a course one nautical mile in length, with peak speeds in the 60s. On that run, the team says it averaged 59 knots (109 km/h) over the 500m course. The Speed Record Council is yet to ratify those records, but the Sailrocket team seem confident they’ll extend their own 500m record and take the one nautical mile crown from the French sail-powered hydrofoil known as the ‘Hydroptère’.
Video of the one nautical mile run can be seen below.®