Well that got a bit hairy. Old school 69 style!
The wind was building up to top end as we headed up the course. I felt good and was determined to put in a big one. I wanted to set either the new course record or even better... to break through Yellow Pages old 'boat' record of 46.52 knots. I feel we can do better than just trade blows with Hydroptere and if we are to do so... we need to push hard on days like this.
We got up the course and I knew it was strong. Good!
The rig went up without drama and the team headed off down the course to wait for events to unfold. The line popped when I dropped the tether. I quickly went through the checks and necessary procedures hoping to turn quickly onto the course. A solid black gust hit VESTAS SAILROCKET as I was still running downwind. It pushed the stalled wing hard and we began to plane. This had never happened before. Perhaps it was too much and I said so. But still... now is the time to find out. That last run (66) already justified our boat so now it was time to raise the bar. I reset the flap bungies to re-deploy the flap... no need for nitro today... we were sailing in it! As soon as he got a sniff of apparent wind she just launched down the course. The pod was instantly flying. I could feel the forces at work but felt like a passenger.
THE NOSE HAS SHAKEN OFF AND THE BOW HAS BEEN THROWN HIGH BY THE CHOP. JUST LIKE THE MODEL YEARS EARLIER, THE BOW WOULD COME AWAY AND THE FOIL WOULD REGAIN GRIP. GREAT PIC. SOME FOILING ACTION HYDROPTERE WOULD BE PROUD OF.
We were instantly in the forties as I felt the control. Damn... it was brilliant... almost gentle. The nose got picked up as the foil got hoisted off the surface, Vetsas Sailrocket yawed sideways and the foil dropped in again onto the front planing surface. It was just like the model. I still had positve control so despite the bumpy ride I held onto the course. Twice more the nose got hoisted skywards and on the second one I decided to abandon the run. In my peripheral vision I could see the pod was way high.
SOME MORE WILD POD FLYING ACTION... FUNNY THING IS... SHE FELT ALRIGHT!!!
It took ages, too long, to burn off the speed. When I finally turned for the beach... I had missed it. Instead of trying a risky salvage with the support RIB, I decided to sail a kilometer or so across the 'lagoon'. We took a few waves and the cockpit was filling up... but we made it.
In the end the 500 meter average was down around 43.66 but the new peak speed was 46.75 knots. These rugged runs don't really impress me too much. They are too messy. What did impress me was the way we managed to sail in full control in winds gusting to 27 knots. This bus is tough. The new control system is fantastic. It's a revolution for us.
VESTAS SAILROCKET behaved just like her 1/5th scale model did. The photo's look wild but in the end I have nothing but confidence. I would love to give her a rest and a full detailed service... but we have more sailing days ahead and we need to use all of them.
Hydroptere looks very flash and I admire them immensely... but I wouldn't swap rides for quids. It's going to be a great battle.
Enjoy the pics... we sure as hell did.
Gearing up to head out today. went out yesterday but the wind crapped out so Run 68 fizzled. Today looks pretty hot. The Stone Roses are blasting as we climb into the Musto drysuits.
I can feel butterflies... and they feel goooood.
Righto.. let's go see what the day will bring.
Run 69 here we come.
New videos posted by the way, this next link is for a largish medium res file of around 18 mb. if you hit the link, you have to retype in the letter code at the top of the page and then follow the cues for the free download. We hope to improve on this. http://www.megaupload.com/?d=UKC8CTIN
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSOJH8Gi_Y8 is the 'youtube' link
Righto... back to the update...
We hit the speed course again yesterday hungry to top our recent success on Run 66. We were only 0.2 knots behind Hydroptere's previous best 500 meter run and when I checked out their website to confirm this... it appears that they have gone and posted a faster run again!!! They are now around 1.8 knots faster at 46.1 knots! The king of the boats is still Good ol' Yellow Pages Endeavour with their amazing 46.52 knots posted way back in 1993.
HAPPY DAYS POST RUN 66.
45+ KNOTS PAST THE TIMING HUT ON RUN 66.
So with this in mind we crossed the lagoon on a day that was shaping up nicely. The buoys were placed out to give me a course to focus on and show me how close in I could potentially come in to the shore. After this we pull in to the timing hut where we have built a small roof top terrace to film the runs from. Out the back we mount the TACKTICK gear on a pole as an independent weather station to log the wind throughout the session. The remote display is up with the cameraman who has a VHF and can give me a quick wind update before I take over the channel for the run. I have no wind data display on the boat as the two PI RESEARCH displays are showing wing and rudder angles. Once this is set up we head to the top of the course where it takes five people to raise the rig... and about five to ten minutes.
A large anchor is dropped and a tether attached from this to the transom Of VESTAS SAILROCKET. It is left slack during the rigging process but acts as a safety in case the boat gets away on us... as it has once before. On a windy day, the boat would have the potential of locking onto a course at 40 + knots without me in it... and just sailing... until god knows what would happen (It would probably head to sea and a month later... take out HUGO BOSS in the middle of the night)! One person holds the wing angle whilst it is raised, one person eases the rigging, one person holds the bow, one person stands on the boat to help the rig get started in the raising process and one person hauls on the 6:1 HARKEN purchase to pull the strut in and hence raise the rig. The guy holding the bow stays with me whilst the other three head down the course. One of them takes up station on the video camera whilst the other two man the RIB (one of whom catches VESTAS SAILROCKET at the other end as she comes into the beach).
We have shown we can do back to back runs in around 20-25 minutes if we hop to it.
We had already raised the rig and done an electronics test in the still air of the morning... but as is always the case... problems began to arise the minute we got across to the windsweapt remoteness of Speed-spot. The displays for wing and rudder angle began to play up. At the top of the course we tried everything at our disposal all to no avail. Here we were plugging 9V batteries into a 30' speed sailing boat to try and make it work. It reminded me of Xmas day as a kid with a new remote control toy. There was a fault somewhere... obviously... and it was affecting both the PI RESEARCH logger and the displays. I considered aborting the day but decided to do a run flying blind anyway. You always learn something. The trouble is that from where I'm sitting, the wing angle is not that easy to judge, especially as we are constantly moving the beam and rake angles. The rudder angle is also pretty important as it shows me how well VESTAS SAILROCKET is balanced at speed and hence if I am in the 'safe' fine tune zone of the steering system as against the 'coarse' part. If the boat is not balanced and I'm doing over 40 knots in the coarse zone then small inputs by me have a large effect on the rudder. We are still talking fractions of a degree here but this can lead to the dreaded 'round-up' as we have seen recently... and many times before.
So I did a tentative run with a very nice and flat start up sequence. I didn't oversheet the wing but had it out at what I guessed was around 15-20 degrees. This limits the speed of the boat and I could feel it doing this like a rev limiter. VESTAS SAILROCKET would surge ahead... and the abruptly lose power as she would almost oversail the rig. We peaked at 41. something knots in not a moderate wind of around 19 knots. the water was flat and I had pulled the main flap on.
At the end of the course I decided to head back to the base to sort this problem out. If we are not logging the data then we are wasting our time. If we hit a high speed, have a crash or anything else in between... it's all a bit meaningless in the big picture if we don't understand why or how.
It was shaping up to be a brilliant day so it was pretty frustrating to walk away from it.
We have found the faulty connection and hopefully resolved the problem. The forecast looks great for today also so let's hope we can get out there and jump up another couple of rungs.
Well done to Hydroptere. I admire those guys immensely. It makes the whole endeavour much more interesting to have two teams going for it on the water at once. I'm pretty sure we can trade blows with them toe to toe. We each have our strengths and weaknesses and we are both at a stage in our projects lives where we are in good shape for the challenges to come. It's great stuff.
What a great run. With perfect top-end conditions we hit the course determined to go for it. Yesterday was a great day for dialling in VESTAS SAILROCKET and based on those four runs we reconfigured the geometry for today.
I knew it was going to be fast because I knew I could get her in close to flatter water.
My visor hadn't blown up since the 44 knot run earlier this year so I guessed it was pretty damned quick... and it stayed quick... because my visor blew up a second time. She felt great. Once I had managed to slow the madness down I informed the team that we had a new top speed. The GPS read 45.7 knots, later on the download it read 45.85 whilst the PI RESEARCH GPS recorded 46.28 knots!!! I'll let you all work out what was probably real but I will guess somewhere in between.
We were all stoked and decided to put the boat away so we could once again digest all the data from todays run in case any little 'red flags' had appeared.
We have now downloaded all the data although it was a bit frustrating as a number of systems decided not to work including the expensive solid-state onboard camera and the shore logger which records the data of the ultra reliable TACKTICK gear (the logger is a custom jobby and not TACKTICK by the way). The B+G/PI RESEARCH system on the boat caught all the vitals which we are joyfully wading through.
Even better news for us was the averages we attained over the course. We did 700 meters over 40 knots and managed a 500 meter run of 44.3 knots. In boating terms that puts us up in pretty exclusive company. I think Hydroptere's best 500 meter is somewhere around there... although I think we all know they are capable of a bit more.
Whilst we sailed in much flatter water today, we can still come in as close again. The main flap on the wing wasn't pulled on at all, the strut is still unfaired and the raising and lowering rigging was left up to assist in turnaround times. So there is plenty more still to come.
The ride was much nicer thanks to the new thinner rear planing surface and the steering felt very positive. The pod was flying perfectly clear of the water just nipping the odd wave every now and then. We are still not out of the woods with control issues... but then this run showed how we have come a looooooong way to achieving solid averages in a controlled manner.
It is so nice to move forward once again. Some times you just seem to get stuck at a number for seemingly no reason. VESTAS SAILROCKET showed us that she has a lot left to offer and it's a huge relief to all the team to have all the hard work rewarded.
The video looks like it was in fast forward. Pics and vids to follow.
Happy days, Malcolm was so happy to hear the good news.
Cheers from Paul and the team.