Tweet from the VESTAS Sailrocket 2 team, 16 November 2012, 17:34:13:
That's it... We've smashed the arse off it! 59 knot average. Live from end of speed spot!
Tweet from the VESTAS Sailrocket 2 team, 16 November 2012, 17:34:13:
That's it... We've smashed the arse off it! 59 knot average. Live from end of speed spot!
The VESTAS Sailrocket 2 project will be returning to the waters of Walvis Bay, Namibia this September with a new hydrofoil package which they hope will bring them an Outright world speed sailing record.
The record currently stands at 55.65 knots (64 mph) and is held by American Kite Surfer Rob Douglas. VESTAS Sailrocket 2 was built in the VESTAS R+D facilities on the Isle of Wight and launched in the Medina River in March 2011. The project then relocated to Namibia where ideal conditions occur on a regular basis.
From its launch in the UK, VESTAS Sailrocket 2 rapidly progressed up the speed sailing ladder and after only 23 runs, hit speeds over 50 knots down the magical mile long course at Walvis Bay's 'Speed-spot'. The team then made continual improvements to the boat and tried a number of underwater foil configurations but seemed to be hitting a 'glass ceiling' in performance in the low 50 knot speed range regardless of which foil options they tried or how much wind they sailed in.
Chris Hornzee-Jones, AEROTROPE/VSR2 designer - Once you start going through the water over 50 knots you are going to start encountering a phenomenon called cavitation. This can be likened to the hydrodynamic equivalent of the 'Sound Barrier'. The property of the water changes as it turns from liquid to vapour on certain parts of the foil. This requires a very different approach to how you design them. The problem gets even more complicated as air from the surface also tries to get sucked down onto the foil and cause it to lose grip. This mixture of air, vapour and very high-speed water is all very dynamic and extremely hard to model by computer or even in high-speed flow tanks. Most projects to date have simply pushed conventional foil theory to the limits and that's why speed sailing is stuck at the current speeds in the low 50's. VESTAS Sailrocket 2 was designed from the outset to be a breakthrough boat. It is designed to be an ideal testing platform for trialling new foil concepts which will allow us to break through this 'glass ceiling' and perform at speeds well over 60 knots.
Paul Larsen, Australian project manager/pilot of VSR2 - This is the second craft we have developed for this record. We saw the potential of the concept revealed with our first boat but this version is aiming to use that potential to knock down some of sailings biggest physical barriers. If we can do that then the world records will come with the territory. From my perspective in the cockpit, this version of the boat is a delight to sail. It is much less traumatic than the first boat. VSR2 is just ambling down the course at 50 knots in a very stable manner. Hopefully these new foils we have designed will allow her to really show her potential. I'm sure she won't feel so docile over 60 knots. I think she's patiently waiting for us to gain the understanding to release her from all the drag and give her free rein.
VESTAS Sailrocket 2 is indeed a radical craft. It looks perhaps more like a plane than a boat because a lot of attention has been focused on the aerodynamic efficiency and stability of the craft however, she still relies very much on the hydrodynamics to allow her to carve across the wind. It is based on a concept where all the overturning forces typically associated with sailing craft are removed. This allows the boat to use the wind created by its own speed to generate a lot of its ultimate power without actually getting overpowered. Whilst VSR2 might actually be sailing in only 25 knots of real wind, at full speed the lightweight, carbon fibre boat and its rigid wing sail feels like it is sailing in over 60 knots of wind and yet doesn't require traditional systems of weights and levers to remain stable.
Malcolm Barnsley, VESTAS test engineer/VSR2 design team - We are delighted with the way the boat has developed to date. It has been pushed very hard by the sailing team and has shown time and again that it is a great platform for taking new foil designs to their limit in the 'real' world. We have learnt an immense amount already with this boat. Even though our first version of very high speed foils was shown not to be the answer, they also showed us certain aspects that were right. With the new foils we have incorporated these aspects and hopefully used our understanding to design out the parts that were holding us back. We are heading into new territory here. It's a dark alley and of course it is hard to be certain of what lies ahead until you illuminate it with your own knowledge. We have followed a path that seems logical and have chosen what we also hope is the safer, reliable option rather than the extreme one. The potential of this boat is enormous but if these foils allow us just to reveal a portion of that potential... then world records should fall.
The new foil is currently being manufactured in Bristol. Team members will shortly head down to Namibia where VESTAS Sailrocket 2 is currently located. They will assemble the boat and base in preparation for the arrival of the rest of the team and the new foil. The focus will be on developing the new foil and some of its 'add-ons' to see if it truly is the missing piece of the puzzle that will allow the team to realise their dream. The team is still looking for answers and they know that nothing is certain until proven beyond doubt in the real world. If the new foils do what they are supposed to do, a World record attempt will be booked with the WSSRC (governing body) in the October-December period this year.
Updates will be posted regularly on sailrocket.com
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Isle of Wight, 7/9/2011
Short, sharp voyages of discovery
The team behind the VESTAS Sailrocket 2 program are returning to Walvis Bay in Namibia to continue their quest to set the outright world speed sailing record.
The months of September through to December typically provide the best winds for speed sailing and the team have been keeping their powder dry in anticipation.
The current world record is held by American kite surfer, Rob Douglas. It was set in Luderitz, Namibia late last year and stands at 55.65 knots (64 mph/103 kmh). The kite surfers are expected to return to Namibia in October this year in an effort to take the record even higher.
VESTAS Sailrocket 2 is a bold step beyond their Mk1 boat which still holds the 'B' class world record and hit peak speeds over 52 knots (60 mph) on a number of occasions. The outright record eluded the Mk1 so the team focused all their energy into VESTAS Sailrocket 2 which was designed and built from the outset to be a breakthrough boat with a view to overcoming the limiting factors rather than just the current record itself. They liken their challenge to the time in aviation where the focus moved to breaking the sound barrier itself rather than the speed records that preceded it and were limited by it. If they are successful, then the outright record will simply come with the territory and a path will be made into a whole new world of high speed potential.
Conventional high speed foils (i.e. rudders) begin to have 'issues' as they reach high speed and these become unavoidable around 60 knots. Liquid water turns to vapour due to the low pressure on one side of the foil. The phenomenon is called cavitation and this causes a lot of drag and quite often loss of stability with dramatic consequence. VESTAS Sailrocket 2 is designed to not only remain stable if the conventional foils fail at high speed but be capable of employing special foils that will be immune to this problem and take her beyond normal limits.
VESTAS Sailrocket 2 was launched in April this year in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. She was promptly shipped to Namibia where initial trials were carried out over 6 weeks. This comprised of system checks and low to medium speed sailing up to speeds of 40 knots. The team were very happy with how this radical and highly unconventional boat performed her most basic but essential tasks. They have no illusions about her single minded purpose however. Outright speed is the goal and despite all their efforts to date, this challenge is still just beginning. With this much innovation, they aren't expecting an easy ride. Windows for success are notoriously fragile.
The aim for this session is to initially gain a better understanding of VESTAS Sailrocket 2 and how to best sail her to release the potential of the new technologies she incorporates. If things go well then a ratified world record attempt will be made as soon as possible.
Pilot/Project leader Paul Larsen- "This is a step into the unknown and it's hard to predict exactly what the scale of the issues might be. With this much innovation, some times you have to 'unlearn' aspects of what you know so that you can be open to the new ways that will ultimately take you forward. Before it was all about the record itself. In a way we have moved beyond that and are trying to break through the very physics of the sport itself.
"We romantically look at boats as craft that can take us on adventures over far horizons to new and wondrous places. Whilst VESTAS Sailrocket 2 may challenge many conventions in her pursuit of outright speed and efficiency, with respect to discovery and adventure, she is still every bit a sailing boat. New lands await and our eyes will be wide open. The journey will continue to be fascinating."
The SailRocket Team today launches its second-generation speed sailing boat from East Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Vestas SailRocket 2 is designed to be significantly faster than its predecessor, with the ultimate aim of breaking the ‘Outright World Speed Sailing Record’.
We welcome our many friends and supporters to visit our updated website at www.sailrocket.com, containing first shots of the new boat, a description of the design philosophy, and photographs taken throughout the many months of construction.
Immediately after today's launch the team will prepare the new boat for shipping to Walvis Bay, Namibia, where sailing record attempts will begin in April.
Register to receive Vestas SailRocket updates, and please leave your comments on today's launch here.
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This summer, the huge ‘Union Jack’ doors of the Columbine shed in East Cowes will part and true to the shed's origins, one more and perhaps final, amazing flying boat will emerge. The UK based team behind the VESTAS SAILROCKET project are building a new boat to finish the job of setting the outright world speed sailing record. The new craft will be an evolution of the innovative concept upon which their original craft was based.
The new boat is being built in the VESTAS R&D facilities at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight. It will incorporate many features to make it more versatile and practical to sail at world record speeds in a wider range of winds and sea states. The team will launch the new boat in East Cowes in time for the British summer and hope to carry out testing in the UK over the following months. If initial trials go well, the team will endeavour to bring the world record back to UK waters.
Pilot/project leader, Paul Larsen- “This represents a fantastic opportunity to develop a real breakthrough concept. Our first interpretation of it did a brilliant job of demonstrating the potential. I’m very proud of what we have achieved but also very aware that we haven’t finished the job. I personally can’t live with that. The first boat did what it was supposed to do... but by the time it did, the record had moved on. As it stands we still need to go two knots faster to break the current world record. I still believe our first boat could break that record but I also know she is near her limits. As a team we are now well positioned to design and build a much better, safer and above all faster boat which is more suitable for the challenges to come.
“The fact is that in the world of outright speed sailing, there is nothing of real interest to us below 50 knots. 50 knots has to be a minimum cruise speed for our next boat and it must be able to do it in a wide range of wind and sea states. Some of the problem areas require us to come up with new solutions as we can’t simply force conventional thinking onto an unconventional craft. We have put a lot more effort into making the boat stable in unusual situations. Our first version was a good boat but a lousy aeroplane. The next boat will be stable in both environments. No matter what we come up with... we will be pushing it right to the limit... and be able to bring a passenger along for the ride!
“It’s an ideal situation to be working so closely with VESTAS right in the heart of their R&D facilities. We use the same tools and speak the same language. The only difference is that when we take our design to the limit, I have to strap myself into it!”
Designer, Malcolm Barnsley- “Many valuable lessons have been learned. It’s ideal to be going straight in with a follow up boat while these are fresh in our minds. So many of the unknowns are now known and we have a far greater understanding of the concept and the novel issues surrounding it. Design-wise this provides a strong foundation which gives us the opportunity to deal with the big issues right from the start. Nonetheless we will maintain a highly modular and adjustable boat to best deal with any new issues that might arise.
“There will always be problems when exploring the limits, but we are confident these will be relatively minor in comparison to what we have had to deal with in the past. With the resources, knowledge and skill available, the development period to get above the current record will be very short indeed.”
President of Vestas Technology R&D, Finn Strom Madsen- “It has been a great ride so far. We are both trying to efficiently and practically extract as much energy from the wind as we can. Similarly, we share a passion to be the best in the world at what we do. We are looking forward to the new boat and have great faith that it will set the outright world speed sailing record.”
VESTAS SAILROCKET 1 will be on public display in all her battle scarred glory at the upcoming RYA VOLVO Dinghy Show, Alexandra Palace, March 6-7th .
Achievements to date– Emerged in 2008 as fastest sailing ‘boat’ in the world, Current B class world record holder, Best 500 meter average 49.38 knots, Best peak speed 52.78 knots (60.75mph).
The current Outright world record sits at 51.36 knots (59.1 mph) and is held by the French ‘Hydroptere’ project.
The outright world speed sailing record is set by taking the average speed of the craft between two points set 500 meters apart. All records are ratified by the sports governing body, the WSSRC (World Speed Sailing Record Council).
It is with much regret that we inform you of the passing of Bernard Smith on February the 12th; a brilliant mind in many fields not least of which was sailing. Born in New York’s Lower East side in 1910 from a long line of blacksmiths, Bernard went on to be one of the founders of American rocket science and later to become director of the Naval Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia.
Amongst all this, Bernard’s seminal book, “The 40-knot sailboat” was published in 1963. It was a simple and easy to read book that outlined Bernard’s farsighted concepts for tackling the issues of high speed sailing. Most of Bernard’s radical concepts confronted the big issues of sailboat stability head on and were free of the shackles of convention. His book and the craft within (which he described as ‘aero-hydrofoils’) inspired many designers aiming to unlock their secrets and the potential for power and stability that they promised over conventional craft.
It wasn’t until the 27th of November, 2007 that the Vestas Sailrocket team finally broke through 40 knots in a craft based on Smith’s ideas. They were delighted to contact Bernard and tell him at the ripe old age of 97 that his ideas worked. A year later they called him to tell him that his 40 knot concept was in fact a 50 knot concept and at that stage the fastest sailing ‘boat’ in the world. Bernard remained sharp as a tack until his passing in Boca Raton, Florida last week.
The Vestas Sailrocket team continue to develop his concepts and believe that one day, he will be broadly acknowledged in the sailing world for the true visionary genius that he was and the originator of a whole new era in high speed sailing.
Bernard is succeeded by his wife May and daughter Susan Ida Smith.
See Bernard's concept in action: a video of Vestas Sailrocket's fastest run.
The UK based VESTAS SAILROCKET team are to return to Walvis Bay in Namibia for one more assault on the outright speed sailing record. The 28 day record period will commence on the 2nd of October.
This will be the final record attempt for this wonderful boat. It has endured a long and eventful life to reach its current level of performance and its structure bears the scars of many a hard earned lesson. This is truly a unique and significant craft which has shown the potential of a radical concept for achieving both stability and efficiency in high speed sailing craft. The team, together with the sponsors and supporters have shared a fascinating journey but their ultimate objective, to be the outright fastest in the world, remains. The journey will only end when this objective is reached, one way or the other.
Already, since committing to this final attempt, the bar has been raised by the mighty French Hydroptere. In fact the outright record has been broken 6 or 7 times by 3 (and nearly 4) different craft since Sailrocket was first launched in 2004. VESTAS Sailrocket has already beaten the record as it was when she was launched, but now she needs to go almost exactly 4 knots faster again to achieve the new outright record of 51.38 knots*.
Pilot/ project manager, Paul Larsen- Firstly, Congratulations to the Hydroptere team, we’ve got some work to do... but we wouldn’t be in this game if we didn’t like a challenge. Whilst it has been great to race the other true ‘boats’, it is the outright record we all strive for. This means that ultimately we have to beat the board riders as well. The MI (Macquarie Innovations) boys showed that they were within reach, now thanks to Hydroptere, the boat record IS the outright speed sailing record. Soon it’s going to be our shot to see if we can turn it up some more.
Nothing focuses the mind like competition. The record hasn’t fallen so many times recently by chance. Sometimes the limits are as much psychological as they are physical. When the level you need to attain gets so high that your current best isn’t enough then your options become limited and in some respect the job gets easier. You simply have to change your sights and find another gear. In this case it is ‘all or nothing’. We will no longer focus on the mile record as the Walvis Bay course is a little too short to challenge the new benchmark. We will go down there with our eyes firmly on the outright prize. 50 knots is last year’s story... we simply have to go well over that now. I look forward to taking this wonderful boat out to do battle one more time. There’s a final chapter to be written and I’m sure she still has a few knots up her sleeve. It will be one hell of a ‘suck-it and-see’ ride on the ragged edge that’s for sure!
VESTAS Sailrocket Designer, Malcolm Barnsley- Now, in order to achieve our ultimate aim, we need to go almost exactly 4 knots quicker. We have learnt so much since we started. Through constant development we have managed to solve most of the relatively minor issues surrounding a new concept and allowed the real potential to begin to shine through. All of the boat projects have shown that when it all comes together, there are still large performance jumps that can be made at the top end. On paper, the 500m record is definitely within reach but everything has to be just right and if we do make it I doubt it will be by a big margin. Even in a place like Walvis Bay, which provides fantastic conditions on a regular basis, it will take a special day. Let’s hope we get those perfect conditions to make chasing down those four knots as easy as possible!
The team will be on full standby at Walvis Bay Yacht Club throughout the whole record period. Regular updates and live feeds will be streamed from the new website www.vestassailrocket.com throughout the attempt.
*as of writing this, Hydroptere’s records are still subject to WSSRC ratification.
Vestas SailRocket has today launched a new website at www.sailrocket.com. With ever increasing numbers of visitors, we decided to completely update our site with the aim of bringing you - our supporters - a better view into our world.
The new dynamic site will allow the team to upload stories directly from 'Speed Spot' in Walvis Bay, Namibia, posting status updates and pictures straight to the home page. Paul's Blog will of course continue to be a first port of call for many of our supporters, but in addition to this, we'll be writing feature stories to bring new visitors to our site up to speed.
Users previously registered with Vestas Sailrocket website can log into the site with their current username and password. New users sign up here to receive emails alerting you to the latest developments with Vestas Sailrocket.
Look out for more pages about Vestas SailRocket appearing very soon!