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Southern Spars

Sailrocket 2 - She sails!

by Paul Larsen on 8 May 2011
SailRocket 2 Vestas Sailrocket - copyright http://www.sailrocket.com

Vestas Sailrocket 2 and her team, headed by Paul Larsen, is in Walvis Bay, Namibia attempting to break the Outright World Speed Record.

Larsen reports on May 6th VSR2 happenings.

In the greyest of days, Vestas Sailrocket 2 headed across to 'speed-spot' with her wing sail in place.

All the little systems, struts and pulleys were in place to get her to the 'arena'. These were all the details I have been thinking about behind the scenes since the boat was first envisaged. When we talk of the design and look at the big issues, in my mind I also have all of these little, real world issues that I know are can carry equal priority in the big picture. I love to see this prior attention to small details pay off. Now they are in place and I know they will work. The boat looks good. It feels good. It's already getting slick.

VSR2 sits at a strange angle when we tow it. Nothing that worrying as she is so high out of the water. She doesn't tow 'true'. By this I mean that she doesn't tow in the direction of her hulls. This is because she is 50-50 plane and boat and when you tow her backwards across the course.. she just finds a place to sit somewhere in the middle... and that is sort of a big, 'grey' nowhere zone. No problem... just weird.

We got across to speed-spot and headed for the shore next to the two timing huts. Everything has to be evaluated. Do we pull her up on the shore or just stick the forward rudder in the sand and let the rest pivot around it?

Damn... I could just go on and on about all these aspects as they fascinate me. Every day you get to see all this great stuff come together... and come alive. It's pretty cool and I love it all.

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We had so much to learn today. It was grey, the Walvis Bay fog bank had come to town... but the wind was steady and perfect for what we wanted to see.

Overall the boat handled exactly as I expected it to. There was no magic where we escaped any of our weaknesses, but equally, the systems we had in place to deal with them were effective.

We could easily hold the boat on station either on the shore or behind the RIB and could spin her around as we pleased.

She sat stubbornly head to wind with the beam raked in her aft-high speed configuration... but began to sail down the course when we raked the rig forward.

The foil went up and down and the lock engaged. The different sections of the wing did their jobs and showed us where they needed greater control.

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Yes, we got sailing under our own steam from a standing start... albeit only in a mucshy manner at around 4 knots. The fact is that she probably won't be able to unstick from the water until we have much higher winds so this is no worry.

She looked bloody fantastic and gave me confidence. I know that in these mild conditions that this sense of confidence can be false... but once again, we learnt a lot, will improve the boat and come back out again.

So we put her away in one piece and all felt great about it. We appreciate these milestones and consider them Champagne worthy. Vestas Sailrocket 2 got her second bottle of Pol Roger champagne poured across her funky bow.

We will make some changes and try and head out again tomorrow.

She sails... WOOHOO!

Thanks to everyone who has helped. I take time on days like this to appreciate what I am fortunate enough to be in the middle of. I am highly aware of the help our project has relied on and there are times when in my mind, you are all there. You know who you are.

Today was a good day.

The 10-knot bottle of champagne awaits.

Cheers, Paul.

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Thu, 5 May 11 11:07

The weather is pretty messy here right now with thunderstorms coming from all directions. As I sit here tapping away in the container, the rain is pouring down outside and thunder is rumbling around outside. I came down in the middle of the night last night due to the onset of strong winds when normally things quieten down. We were awoken by the house dog whimpering outside due to the thunder.

It's all very unusual.

Vestas Sailrocket 2 sits calmly outside patiently awaiting her first sail. To me she looks ready for it. On the launch day she loked pretty but I knew there were a heap of jobs that still needed to be finished... or even started just to make her remotely ready for sailing. Some of those could only be done once she was in Namibia and the nature of the problem was properly understood. Well, now she is ready... and I am happy.

We have a good team here. It's a real luxury (now it's REALLY raining). I just sent them off on a desert trip as one of the local tour companies does tours in 8-10 BMW X5 4x4's. They often need delivery drivers to take the cars out to meet the guests. It's a great way to get out there and slide around in some pretty cool cars and a nice break from the non stop job list since they arrived. I wouldn't say that the days are hard here but we do go to bed pretty tired. We are on site all day every day but work at our own pace. If we get here early and get the jobs done... and the wind is good around sunset... then we all gear up and hit speed-spot on the wind and kite surfers. The boat takes all priority but then large aspects of the program are weather dependent. You have to take your chill time when you can as the wind machine can turn on and anything can happen thereafter.

So, there isn't a great deal to report until we get to go for our first sail. We were hopng to get out yesterday but we had weather like we are having now... well, not quite this weird.

As soon as things settle, we will be out there. rest assured that no one wants to more than us.

Cheers, Paul.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzweJpAotVs


Vestas Sailrocket 2 website

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