7:49 AM Sat 15 Oct 2011 GMT
The team behind the Vestas Sailrocket 2 program are in Walvis Bay in Namibia to continue their quest to set the outright world speed sailing record.
We just got back in from a great session and I'm happy to say that Vestas Sailrocket 2 is now in the 50 knot club. We did three runs culminating a great final sprint where she just surged over the 50 knot mark recoding a peak of 50.53 knots. On the previous run she hit over 46 knots.
Overall it has been a pretty stunning progression for the new ventilated foil. In successive runs she has gone from 27 knots to 36.7, 42.7, 46.3 and now 50.5 knots. The great thing is that she isn't even getting close to any limit. Hydrodynamically 50 knots is the same as 60 is the same as 70. The only limit is structural. On the test bench we have taken her to a load equalling 65 knots with a 1 G turn and a respectable safety margin. It won't be the foil that fails.
Vestas Sailrocket 2 behaved impeccably on the course. I knew it was in the 50 knot region although she felt a lot different from VSR1. No spray for starters. I wear a full face helmet but no visor or sun glasses. It's a nice dry ride up there. The acceleration comes hard but also drops off pretty quick. It feels like I am pulling along a good chunk of drag. One of the coolest things about these ventilated foils is the noise... sort of a hollow, haunted 'yowl' that you would make by sucking in through an 'o' shaped mouth. You hear the noise as a gas turbine starts up before the fuel ignites. Whatever... it's a cool sound. I don't have to do much steering. The mainsheet was too undergeared and I couldn't sheet in over 45 knots now that I am reclined in the low profile seating. I'll have to add another purchase. It will easily add another 5 knots. I was in close to the shore but I could still feel the chop. The leeward pod had started to 'float' in ground effect. Basically it's all working. Now we have a heap of optimisation to carry out. Some of it will yield free speed.
Of course we are getting increasingly excited to be where we are at. Just ahead of todays performance lie many great 'scalps'. Today's 500 meter average put us up with the legendary game changer (And great inspiration to me), Yellow Pages Endeavour. From here I can see Vestas Sailrocket 1, then Maquarrie Innovation, then the mighty Hydroptere. At the rate this boat is progressing, I know the future looks bright. Each one of these days is to be savoured.
Right now i would love to add all the bolt-on speed bits to the boat and give the wing a deluxe skin makeover but that will have to wait as tomorrows forecast is equally good.
The 50 knot bottle of Pol Roger has been drunk and the rest of the team are down the pub. I wrote this blog once but the computer crashed when I tried to upload the pictures... so here it is again. I could complain... in fact I did (actually I'm quite impressed with myself that I still have a computer) but then again, this is a nice topic to be writing about.
So happy days. From here on in Vestas Sailrocket 2 will just get prettier and prettier. She's really earning the respect.
Time to go. Hope I can still get some food.
Vestas Sailrocket 2 website
by Paul Larsen