Cruising at 50 knots - Paul Larsen, after a record

SailRocket 2 - frustration and exhilaration
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'She cruised at fifty knots like a car down a highway...but we are after bigger game here!' Australian Paul Larsen and his team are in Walvis Bay in Namibia trying to break the world speed sailing record with SailRocket 2 and achieve 60 knots of speed by sailpower alone.

Here are excerpts from Paul's log book, and the exhilaration and frustration are palpable:


Walvis Bay rose to my challenge today and delivered a near perfect speed sailing day for us. This is why we come here. VESTAS Sailrocket 2 is in the best shape of her life. The whole boat is starting to feel like a finished piece and I am really happy with her.

The first run today went well and was very smooth. All the little details were making the whole experience so much enjoyable and as mentioned, it was near perfect conditions. The new launching system meant that I got up close to the beach much sooner than previously and this makes for a much longer run. The leeward pod was flying high but I was easily able to lower it using the flap control on my left.

Sailrocket 2's skipperpilot Paul Larsen
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Run 1:
The run was very enjoyable. Fast and effortless. Just after the timing hut she performed her old trick again and went hard into a bear away. I put in a couple of turns on the wheel to correct it and immediately stopped the run. Hmmmm.
I still managed a top speed near 51 knots and a 500 meter average around 49.38 knots. This would be a new 'B' class world record for craft with our sail area... but I'm not that interested in that. I went faster with a passenger a month or so ago. We are after bigger game here.

Run 2:
Over to the new ventilated 'wedge' foil: The start went great but even early on in the run I got this terrible noise and shuddering vibration coming from the main foil. I was only doing about 30 knots but there it was. It sort of felt like what I would assume cavitation would feel like. Not a cool or sophisticated noise... more like an engine throwing a rod! When I turned onto the course it smoothed out and the run went very well again. Once again I enjoyed it and it felt fast. VESTAS Sailrocket 2 is just effortless to sail now and I can savour the speed sensation without fear. She cruises at 50 like a car down a highway.

The, just past the timing hut again, she made that horrible noise which felt like running the tip aground on concrete. The drag pulled me from 50 back down to around 30 and once again I was forced to abandon the run.

Run 3:
Conditions were still epic. It was just soooo flat along the shore. Gusting 28 knots and glassy in close. Pure speed sailing porn! We were so close to getting some bigger scalps than the B class record. I want to get the Australian record which is just over 50 knots and the unofficial 'Boat' record off Hydroptere which is around 51.4 knots or 2 knots quicker than my previous run. Either of those would be a nice way to finish the day. I stated the third run but once again I got that terrible draggy shudder. This time it was more persistent and I canned the run at the timing hut. I had only peaked at 30 something knots. What the hell was going on here. We went over the main foil and rudder but it all seemed fine. No obvious signs of cavitation. No damage. Basic boat settings. More Hmmmmmm.

Sailrocket 2 - maybe tomorrow
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We dropped the rig at sunset...I'm beginning to feel that there is something big we are missing here.

We are very definitely in the lab. We'll get to the bottom of this one. Two weeks to go from tomorrow. Come on Walvis, give us a few more like that.

To follow the agonies and outcomes of SailRocket 2's adventures in Namibia, http://www.sailrocket.com!click_here.