The Vestas Sailrocket team has had its eye on the world record since their first boat was launched in 2002. Now, over ten years later, the team finds themselves in Walvis Bay, Namibia hoping to achieve just that with the VESTAS Sailrocket 2, sailed by Paul Larsen of Australia.
Reaching their goals hasn’t been easy, however. The VSR2 had constantly been hitting a ‘glass ceiling’ around 52 knots despite the fact that the boat was designed to do well over 60.
Well that all changed yesterday. Not only did they break records, but they shattered them, hitting an astonishing peak speed of 61.92 knots (Former World Record: 55.65 knots, or 64 mph) and averaging 54.08 knots over 500 meters.
Don’t believe it? Just check out the video below:
Chris Hornzee-Jones, AEROTROPE/VSR2 designer, discusses the 50 knot “glass ceiling”:
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.
More information about the VSR2 can be found HERE.