Monday, October 5, 2009

Vestas Sailrocket Begins Quest For Outright World Speed Sailing Record

The UK based VESTAS SAILROCKET team have returned to Walvis Bay in Namibia for one more assault on the outright speed sailing record. The 28 day record period commences on the 2nd of October.
Since Sailrocket was first launched in 2004, the outright speed record has been broken seven times by a variety of different craft. The rival Hydroptère team now hold the record, having achieved a speed of 51.36 knots over 500 metres on the 4th September 2009 in Hyères harbour on the French Riviera.
Paul Larsen, Sailrocket’s pilot, now needs to go 4 knots faster than his previous record-breaking run in order to take the crown.
“50 knots is last year’s story”, said Paul. “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!”.
Walvis Bay provides excellent speed sailing conditions, with its combination of flat, shallow waters and steady, predictable winds. It was there that the team broke records last December. Since then, they have been in the UK, making improvements to the design.
VESTAS SAILROCKET Designer, Malcolm Barnsley, said, “We have learnt so much since we started. Through constant development we have managed to solve most of the teething problems of this new concept and have allowed the real potential to begin to shine through. 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!”.
With the limits of wind-powered speed being constantly pushed – by windsurfers, kitesurfers and craft like the Hydroptère – there appears to be a renaissance of sail-power at the moment.
“Nothing focuses the mind like competition”, said Paul. “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.”
Malcolm Barnsley’s day job is as a test engineer at wind turbine manufacturer Vestas.
“With fuels running out, we’re going to be looking to do more with wind. I see it as a very broad picture and that things we’re exploring with the Sailrocket can feed in to the long-term future of energy and travel”.
In the wake of Sailrocket’s success, Malcolm has been given time to keep working on the project in pursuit of the ultimate goal. Vestas support is more than just financial.
“Fundamentally, we’re working on extracting energy from the wind as efficiently and reliably as possible. I’ve carried across a lot of the experience from my work environment and have a lot of technical support available within Vestas. We have experts on many things, including aerodynamics and structures, and the Vestas resource makes this project powerful and very unlikely to fail”.
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 website throughout the attempt.

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