New World Speed Record: Macquarie Innovation breaks 50 - hits 54 knots

Macquarie Innovation hits 54 knots on 26 March 2009

Australian sailors Simon McKeon and Tim Daddo who made history in 1993 with the Lindsay Cunningham designed Yellow Pages, leapt back into the history books Thursday night when Macquarie Innovation powered down the Sandy Point speed course near Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, at an average speed of 50.43 knots.

In October 1993 McKeon and Daddo, in this same location, set a 500-metre world record of 46.52 knots that lasted of 11 years.

In 1994 they started on the build of the boat that has now become Macquarie Innovation. Cunningham came up with a new design but it was a long time in the build and it was 2001 before they got back to serious campaigning. But since 2001, the team has been plagued by light wind conditions for much of the time.

In November 2008, McKeon and Daddo did a 500-metre run at 48.14 knots, claiming a class ‘C’ world speed record.

Now in March of 2009, they have lifted their own ‘C’ class record and come within a whisker of breaking the outright record of 50.57 knots, now in the hands of kite boarder Alexandre Caizergues.

This morning co-pilot Tim Daddo saild ‘we created a little piece of yachting history on Thursday night.

‘During that run we hit a peak speed of over 100 km/hr (54 knots) and while the claimed average speed, (50.43) which is about to be sent for ratification, will be reduced to 50.08 knots due to the tidal allowance, we have sailed our craft in excess of 50 knots.

'We will be making a claim for a new class ‘C’ record, which will be just shy of the current outright world record.

‘It is the culmination of over 15 years of work by the team and their loyal group of supporters.’

Macquarie Innovations Team 26th March 2009
Prior to this speed series Daddo commented to Sail-World about the team’s long history, which stretches back to the Little America’s Cup in the late 1980's.

‘It’s been a long road. We had a fairly significant crash with Yellow Pages in February 1993, before setting the record in October. We were lucky … it all tends to happen very quickly and you can’t be exactly one hundred percent sure of what caused it.

‘But we suspected in that run that we were hitting speeds of around 54-56 knots, which was orders of magnitude higher than we ever expected to go with that boat.

‘And Yellow Pages literally took off and left the water. Later we hit the startline in Yellow Pages at a recorded 54 knots, so we always knew there was no 'sound barrier' vibration at that is what has kept us going all these years, we knew we could do it.

Yellow Pages
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‘So some of the changes that went into our Macquarie Innovation were solely trying to address control issues, as well as making the thing a bit faster all up.

‘The configuration of the boats, in respect to Yellow Pages and Macquarie Innovation, is essentially the same.

‘In recent times we’ve just not been able to get consistent winds to allow us to really give the record a shove, so the last two programs with Macquarie Innovation we’ve done quite a lot of work on what I loosely refer to as ‘energy conservation’ within the boat. In terms of wind, it was becoming painfully obvious that were not going to regularly get 20 knots.

‘We often seem to get this 15 to 18 knot type wind. We’ve done a lot of work on trying to reduce some of the energy loses off the boat. So stiffening up hulls, changing the wing geometry a bit, changing the internal structure of the wing … just to make sure we aren’t giving away stuff that we don’t need to. So they were actually big changes that we made. Well I won’t say big changes because the boat doesn’t look any different to how it did two years ago, but suitable construction changes that have been aimed squarely at trying to improve our efficiency.‘

Thursday’s March 27th run was conducted in speeds of 22-24 knots and all those changes to both the control surfaces and the boat’s greater rigidity and therefore efficiency, paid off.

Simon McKeon chimed in ‘On Thurday night the wind angle was not ideal at all, we had 225 degrees, when the ideal is 210 so we were squarer that w'ed have liked but the wind had plenty of grunt and that compensated. If the wind had been round at 210, we might have had another two knots.'

Daddo said 'But to be honest it was embarassingly easy, we've always thought that once we hit 100km (54 knots), top speed is not too far away and cavitation is going to be the issue.

Blown away - Macquarie Innovation
'But on this run everything was smooth.

‘The reason we think we have a top end limit at 58 knots, is as a result of some testing that we have done on our underwater foils and their particular design.

‘We think they will suffer the phenomena of cavitations, which is where the water state changes from a liquid to a gas.

‘We believe that might be the thing that brings the boat unstuck, rather than the wind not having enough power and all that stuff.

‘We still think Macquarie Innovation will suffer that fate around 57 knots. That in itself isn’t the end of the world, but might start to resemble such around 58 knots.

‘During the run we don't have time to look at speed data, we have way too much on our plate, but we actually have a 54 knots over speed alarm set into the cockpit and that went off. Looking at the data, for over half of the run we were doing 52 knots plus.’

Now for a few quiet little drinks, waiting for more south westerlies.

Simon McKeon had the last word. 'We waited 15 years for that wind, hope we don't have to wait more than a few weeks again.'

Sail-World.com has recorded detailed interviews with both Simon McKeon and Tim Daddo, which we will run during the next few weeks.
http://www.sail-world.com/55222