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Sailrocket 2 - 50 knot bottle remains corked

by Paul Larsen on 2 Jun 2011
Vestas Sailrocket 2 in Namibia Vestas Sailrocket - copyright http://www.sailrocket.com
Paul Larsen and the Vestas Sailrocket 2 (VSR2) crew are in Walvis Bay, Namibia chasing the Outright World Sailing Speed record.

Vestas Sailrocket 2 was unveiled in March on the Isle of Wight and then packed and shipped to Namibia. Since then she has undergone a series of trial runs.

Paul Larsen:

31st May 2011. That's a wrap I'm afraid... so away she goes!


Well, I'm standing here in a half peeled Musto drysuit. Unfortunately it is coming off rather than going on. We have been on full 'booted and suited' standby with Jeff over on speed-spot giving wind reports via the VHF. The whole base camp has been pulled apart and only Vestas Sailrocket 2 sits out there intact... but not for long. We are about to descend on her like a bunch of insects and dismember her for storage.

We did all we could to have one more shot but the wind didn't play ball and the 50 knot bottle remains corked. There's nothing we can do about the weather other than be here fully prepared for when the good stuff comes.

On the up side... we have survived the first full testing session fully intact. We have made nothing but solid progress and have introduced the second true '40-knot sailboat' into the world.

This isn't the windy part of the year so these 'soft' days are pretty much the norm. For the same cost we can come back when the wind is pumping and get more full-on days for our dollar.

So that's it for now folks. The next sailing day will be in September. The team will have changed. There will be some old and new faces joining us although I have no idea who it will be right now. It depends who is available. This team has been great and we have had a lot of fun. It really doesn't feel like work despite the silly amount of hours we spend around the boat.

Thanks for all your comments and e-mails of support. They are all read and all appreciated.

Last day of round one:
Hi all, well as I type this the boys are clanging around on the roof of the container above me pulling down the shade tent for the boat. We are packing everything into the container in preparation for tomorrows departure.

The last thing we will pack up is the boat itself as we still hope to get one last sail in today. The wind is forecast to blow up to 24 knots although the morning is glassy calm. I can hear the old, rickety wind vane starting to clatter outside so it seems that the wind is coming in now.

We are already reflecting on the past month and a half. A lot has been accomplished and I'm happy with the stage we are at. I will summarise it once we are totally done as we aint done yet. You know us... we always push it hard right to the last gasp.

I don't think we have missed one opportunity or made one bad weather call for this whole period. In fact we have pushed harder than perhaps ever before as the general sea worthiness of the new boat allows us to get out in rougher conditions and lower tides. We now sail in windier conditions on the lowest tides without issue and that opens a lot more sailing windows for us.

Righto, let's see what today brings... Come on Walvis... one more time please!

29th May 2011. Trench digging on the 'speed farm:'
We just got back in from speed-spot where we encountered some ideal conditions just before sunset.

We were all dead keen to see 50 knots. The new fences were on the foil which were added to prevent ventilation. This is where air gets sucked down the 'suction' side of the foil and the foil stalls. This is very draggy and slow. We had one problem however. What angle should we set the fences at considering we have a lot of adjustment for the foil angle. One angle for the fences won't suit another angle of the foil. We went out today with the foil pitched slightly up and this meant that the fences were slightly pitched up.

We launched Vestas Sailrocket 2 and got her rigged at the top of speed-spot in pretty quick time. we are getting to be a well practiced team now. It was a beautiful afternoon and conditions looked fantastic. Strings of Flamingoes flew overhead going to a lot of effort to give our own winged beast a wide berth.

We now rig VSR2 on the beach but release it from the rib so that we are out in deeper water when the main foil is locked down into place.

I was really looking forward to this. I just know that she will chew through 50 and spit it out if given half a chance. In the winds gusting to 26 knots, VSR2 leapt out of the water when the wing was eased. I sailed her at around 25 knots in towards the flat water near the beach before sheeting on and bearing away. Almost immediately I felt her accelerate and then seemingly slow down. I knew straight away that we were ventilating and that the main foil was stalled.

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]
Not quite as pretty a picture as it should be!

The boat was digging a huge ditch in the water and the drag was holding her back like an anchor that she couldn't shake. I looked aft and could see all the spray. Damn it... but lesson learnt I guess. The amazing thing was that we had the horizontal wing extension fitted to the bottom of the wing and even at these relatively low speeds (35-39 knots), the outboard end of the boat was flying high.


Good to see the leeward pod flying...


Sure looks quick... But the spray out the back isn't!


Making that much spray sure takes a lot of energy.

The whole boat felt a lot different. It wasn't as solid as the previous 40 knot run. The foil was 'gulping' away at the air and moving through various states of lift and drag. This was causing the back of the boat to fall and rise... which in turn pitched the rig fore and aft... which in turn changed the angle of attack of the outboard horizontal wing extension... which in turn caused the beam to fly up and down. It was all a bit loose and certainly didn't feel fast.

I don't think we hit 40 knots. The funny thing is that the high 30's was also the limit for our first boat when we encountered stalling on the main foil. We couldn't break through into the 40's until we solved it with a full boat re-alignment. The only significant thing we had changed in this configuration from when we effortlessly hit 40 knots last time was to add the fences. I'm pretty sure ( well until I go through all the evidence and consult with Malcolm anyway) that it was the angle of attack of the fences that was causing the problem. If they are wrong then they can cause more ventilation than they prevent.

We were all a bit annoyed that we couldn't make the most of the perfect afternoon... but hey, we had tried something new and seen some new tricks ( leeward pod flying in 35 knot trim)... so all is not lost and it all helps paint the big picture. Right now I'm thinking that we should return the main foil to its neutral axis . We had pitched it up to help lift the rear float clear of the water after it hadn't done so after the 30 knot run. If we return it to its standard setting then the fences should be on the correct orientation. We know that ventilation will be an issue without fences so it is just a matter of getting them right.

We only have two days left now. We are going to try and sail on Tuesday even if it means we are packing up the container through the night. We want that 50 knot bottle of Champagne.

p.s. we saw of Martin, Henda, Mari and Hannelie this morning as they left Walvis Bay and set sail for Europe on the good ship 'Sea Jade'. A lovely family living the dream. We were all envious to see them start off on a whole new way of life. Bon Voyage.

Heading out as the wind starts to whistle:
It's getting late in the day on a Sunday. The wind was forecast to come but showed little sign. Well it's 4 p.m. and it's coming in now. The palm leaves are slapping, the rigging in the yacht masts is beginning to 'ring' and the wires are whisteling... so out we go.

It's a cold, clear and blue evening where the colours are crisp. The orange hull looks great against the blue sky.

We have plugged the sub cavitating foil back in to try and move up the speed range. we have added some fences to it as we expect ventilation of the foils as we dig into the 40 knot region. The full wing is on and we will go 'full beans' to chase the numbers.

We might only get one run in tonight.

Gotta go as I'm the only one here not in a MUSTO Vestas Sailrocket 2 website

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