Thursday December 4th, 2008
ImageIt may have taken seven years in design but British speed sailing craft Vestas Sailrocket, piloted by an Australian has become the world’s fastest sailing ‘boat’ two weeks before the world record attempt concludes. Reaching speeds averaging 47.4knots over the 500meter record course things turned very dramatic when Paul decided on a second attempt and literally took off flying over 30m through the air upside down.
During the run down the Walvis Bay speed-strip in Nambia the purpose built craft peaked at 51.76knots which is enough to give the team the ‘B’ class world record and Larsen the Australian National record. It also gives them the unofficial title of worlds fastest ‘boat’.
Designer, Malcolm Barnsley said 'We are very pleased with the speeds achieved by Vestas Sailrocket at such an early stage of our official record attempt period. Speeds are in line with our predictions for the wind conditions and we expect to go significantly faster in the near future. The team has done a fantastic job of mastering the operation and handling of this highly specialised ‘point and shoot’ sailing dragster.
“We have been aware of the potential for the ‘lift off’ that occurred yesterday, from an early stage in the project, and had already made minor changes to steer away from it. We have several quick ways of further tuning the geometry of Vestas Sailrocket and are very confident a repeat of yesterdays accident can be prevented.'
Speaking of his early success Pilot Paul Larsen said, “Vestas Sailrocket flew down the course in perfect control. I sat at about 90-5% power and concentrated on sailing a good straight course close to the beach where the flat water was. I knew it was fast but was pretty surprised at the end at how fast it was... especially as I knew there was more to come. Malcolm’s design had performed just as he predicted. Of course I was pretty happy but the possibility of breaking the outright record was right before us so we turned the boat around and headed back up the magic mile for another crack at the record. At that stage I was unaware that we had punched a big hole through 50 knots. I didn't want to just rattle the opposition’s cage... I wanted to crush it”
With regards to his spectacular flying feat he added, “As soon as the whole nose lifted I thought “oh s**t... we had discussed the possibility of this and here we are”. The nose just kept coming up and I was pure and simply flying. No noise, no spray... she just kept going up until I was vertical. I waited for an impact but there was none. When she went fully inverted and there was still no impact I knew I was a long way least the height of the rig. At this stage I thought ‘when she hits upside down... get out as soon as you can’. She slammed down hard and despite a few bruises and a smashed helmet... I was out of that cockpit in a flash. It was pretty gutting but then it comes with the turf… I have no doubt that with a few tweaks to the geometry we could have absolutely smashed the outright and nautical mile records. The dream is real!”
A full damage assessment of the boat is now being carried out. The world record attempt concludes on Saturday 20th of December.

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