well we have been kept pretty busy dotting the 'i's' and crossing the 't's'. All the TRIMBLE GPS timing gear arrived yesterday and getting all this sorted out is a mission in its own right. We have had some fantastic help from local surveyor Dirk Bindeman who has helped us putting it all together. Dirk has marked out a 500 metre course here on the Esplanade walk way using traditional surveying means. We will then check the accuracy of our TRIMBLE system against it to make sure it is within 5cm as specified by the WSSRC.
Whilst George and Helena try and get their heads around this system and all the data that it will spew forth, I am flat out trying to fit it all to VESTAS SAILROCKET in a neat and practical manner. The final stages are outside the container curing now.
It's been a slightly stressful week as we try and tie together all the loose ends which involves people running around in various continents e-mailing, skyping, couriering(?), flying, driving, training, meeting etc. Most of it is coming together... some parts aren't.
The RIB decided to do a big end bearing at the last possible moment. Thanks to the WBYC and Namibian Sailing Association for supplying another whilst ours gets repaired. The onboard camera saga continues. The company we bought it off sent us a replacement to our last broken one... and this one didn't even turn on straight out of the box!!!! These things are supposed to be bullet proof. So take my advice if you are looking for something to record onboard footage... avoid the ACR10 like the plague. I hope that they will see fit to replace it with another option as otherwise... no onboard footage or audio from the coming month. After spending quite some time and money on this one... my humour has run out.
VESTAS SAILROCKET herself is looking great and we continue to work on all the little details. The wind tomorrow isn't looking that favourable but the rest of the week is shaping up alright. I reckon we might get some good initial runs in. Last night the forecast looked epic with Tuesday-Thursday providing winds of 22,25 and 29 knots. It looked too good to be true... appears it was as it has toned down quite alot on todays forecast already.
I don't mind, the Walvis wind-tunnel will turn on at some stage and we can still spend time making sure everything is absolutely ready.
On another note, I noticed on the WSSRC notice that ISAF have chosen to not allow kite powered craft to hold the outright record. My first (and current) reaction to this is that it is wrong. I look forward to hearing their detailed reasoning. I certainly consider them sailing craft and wouldn't consider our project to have reached its ultimate objective until we were faster than them. Outright fastest is outright fastest... as long as we are on the same playing field using the same forces then I consider it all fair game. I believe that the various classes within speed sailing need to be updated but... well I won't shoot off until I have all the info. It was a surprise... but then again not really... I mean this is the same body that dropped the Multi-hull category out of the next Olympics!!!
The WSSRC commissioner is on his way down here and should only be a few hours away... so it's all getting pretty exciting. This is what we have been working so hard for. It's taken years to get to this stage. A ridiculous amount of work really. If we manage to bang off a couple of big runs early and the control is there... then I really think we can make it over 50. I certainly believe we can become the fastest 'boat' in the world... but as mentioned... that's not our ultimate goal. We are doing this to be number one.
One week from now we will be starting our first WSSRC ratified record period. We have been spending the last couple of weeks preparing for it. This includes making all the preperations for the WSSRC official, the timing systems, the people to document it all... and the specific detailing of the boat itself. So far I think it's all working out OK.
We will be using a TRIMBLE GPS system to time all our runs. It has a number of advantages for our particular program the main one being that we can simply pluck out the best 500 meter section from each run. This means we will get the fastest averages of the day... and not just the best time between two fixed points. The system needs to be extremely accurate and it's not a simple handheld system that we will have in place. We will still have a simple hand held gps to give us a rough estimate between runs as it takes a bit longer to post-process the TRIMBLE data to get the exact times with the accuracy required by the WSSRC.
VESTAS SAILROCKET has been getting tidied up aerodynamically and we figure we can make some pretty serious gains here... more than any other boat except maybe Macquarrie Innovations who operate in similar apparent wind speeds/angles. We have fully faired the strut that supports the lower section of the wing, re-skinned the whole wing and made a moulded fairing to fair in the end of the beam to hull area. The cockpit windscreen may make a reappearance to break up the wind before it hits my body. All the rigging is getting cleaned up and we will trial some new MARLOW products which will reduce the diameters and hence drag by over 40% of all the standing rigging. The wind instruments and onboard camera will be removed to further clean up the transom and save weight. Yes... I'm losing weight too. I think I can get down to around 78 without too much suffering. Every aspect of the boat will be considered. It all counts as it will all affect the final outcome. The TRIMBLE system is accurate enough to count the milliseconds so all will be judged.
We tried to get out to speed-spot for two of the last three days and twice were denied... by a dodgy outboard engine on the support RIB. It is normallt very reliable but something has corrupted it. We reluctantly pushed VESTAS SAILROCKET back up the ramp and pulled the RIB out behind it. the next morning we had all the carbuerettors and fuel system stripped down. It appeared some water got in there so we flushed it all, changed the plugs and the gearbox oil and voila... she sounded fine. Today the wind came up again so we got all set to go. Helena drove over to speed spot in the RIB... and on the way back she began to play up again... so we repeated the process. We pushed VESTAS SAILROCKET back out of the water... and the Rib followed closely. BOOOOORING!!!!!!! If it's not one thing then it's another. I suppose it warns us to have a plan 'B' in preperation for similar events befalling us during the record attempt. So we will make provisions.
The wind has lost some of its 'oomph' as the seasons change. I know we will still get some banging days within the 28 day period. We have to make sure that we are totally ready for when they come because we are going to push harder than we ever have before. My prediction is that the days around the next full-moon will be the big ones. That will be around December the 12th. I don't know why the lunar cycle affects the winds... must be something to do with the tides. I thought it was a local myth but it seems to be consistent from our records.
We have been folllowing Hydroptere's progress with great interest. They are doing an amazing job with an incredible boat. Some of their peak speeds are spectacular. We will be interested to see if they are capable of ever hanging onto the big 5-0 for long enough to average it over 500 meters. I imagine that one of their problems is an unsteady response to gusts where they have to either bear away or sheet out. A bear away will give them a high peak... but put a 'kink' in their point-to-point course and sheeting out needs to be an incredibly precise process in order to maintain the knife edge balance neccesary to really 'max-out'. If VESTAS SAILROCKET gets hit by a gust... it just accelerates in a straight line. This strenght might really begin to feature in the upcoming weeks. Still they might get their magic gust and ride it just right. Good luck to them I say, nothing we can do but focus on our own issues.
Righto, that's enough for one blog.
Well since the rodeo ride on run 69 we have done two more runs. They were relatively sedate in comparison. I tried a couple of slightly different start up approaches at shallower angles to the beach and focused on staying in close. Both runs peaked over 40 knots with one run averaging 39.7 with a 40.5 peak and the second averaging 40.5 with a 42.5 peak. So very solid runs overall in around 16-19 knot winds.
We have since pulled VESTAS SAILROCKET apart and begun the detailing process in preperation for what is to come. The wing is in the container being reskinned. The COMPOTECH strut is now fully faired. We did a crude test alongside the unfaired spare by hanging them both on pieces of string out in 25 knots of wind. The difference was pretty impressive as the faired in strut still hung near vertical whilst the unfaired, round one blew back on the string at quite an angle.
Everything on the boat will now have to earn its place. No free-loaders!!!
...today we booked ourselves in for a World Record Attempt. It is subject to final approval but so far it all looks good for us to start a ratified attempt on the 23rd of this month.
We feel it's time to step in the ring against the official clock.
We have one more round of favourable tides to do our final fine tuning and then the gig is on. The next round of tides after that will be on the 23 rd. It's going to be a whole new ball game. We are all delighted to have reached this stage of the project. We move one step closer to realising our dream. I hope mother nature is kind to us.
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.