Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Kids range

Vestas Sailrocket 2 begins the big reveal of the beast within

by Paul Larsen on 16 Nov 2012
Vestas Sailrocket 2 Vestas Sailrocket - copyright http://www.sailrocket.com
Paul Larsen of Vestas Sailrocket 2 discusses how the big reveal of the beast within is finally underway and how the speed was no accident nor was it unexpected.

So here we are. Vestas Sailrocket 2 has finally begun the big reveal of the beast within. From our perspective, the speed wasn't any accident and certainly wasn't unexpected. We have been working in this direction for a long time now. We always said that we were aiming for speeds over 60 knots and that in the current speed sailing context it simply wouldn't be worth building a boat unless you were. I don't think anyone is really sure of what the potential of the kiters really is. Even the windsurfers are now showing that they had what it takes to get well over 50 knots. Everything about VSR2 was focused on 60+.

We just hadn't found the right combinations to unlock the boats real potential. Being stuck in the low 50's was frustrating on one hand but very educational on the other. To be fair, the new foil didn't get stuck there for very long. We just needed to get enough runs in to work through a few theories. The change in performance once the fences were added was pretty remarkable. The way that the low wind performance changed was a big indicator that something fundamental had changed and we were itching to see how it would affect us in stronger winds.

The last two runs were brilliant. That last run was truly great. It represented a real and undeniable breakthrough for sailing where the previous limiting factors were overcome. The good thing was that we did it in a pretty civilised manner on an open water course in winds that only averaged 24.5 knots on the shore station. I'm sure that we hit our peak speed in the high part of that average i.e. 28 knots but I'm also sure that that is about all we need to go even faster. The wind was ranging between 21 and 28 knots for those who are interested with a True wind angle of 99 degrees.


The target performance for VSR2 with these foils is 65 knots in 26 knots of wind. We figured that this should give us sufficient margin to get a 60 knot average and that we could make up for any unplanned inefficiencies by sailing in more wind if need be. You have to appreciate that you never get a solid 26 knot wind. Even on only a 500 meter run you might see 23 and 30 knots. At the true wind angles we are sailing we are bi-secting the gusts at a pretty rapid rate... not running along with them as you would on a deeper downwind course.

Now that we have looked at all the data we have seen that very little needs to be changed. The little 'yaw-string' wind indicator in front of the cockpit showed me that the fuselage was lining up with the apparent wind nicely. That's a good sign of the boats efficiency. The rudder loads and foil base pressures were all pretty good and the leeward pod was looking after itself nicely even at 60+ knots.



The 500 Meter Average.

This was pretty interesting and gives a great indication for what is to come. The speed graph is more of a spike than a solid average. We were accelerating all the way from 47 knots to nearly 62 throughout the average. VSR2 was still accelerating hard when I finally pulled the pin and eased the wing. In fact she kept accelerating even as the wing was going out. I have no doubt she was on her way to a much bigger number if more runway was available... and quickly. When I saw the gust I knew I wanted it. I had to see what it would do. We were already going quick and accelerating.

That last bit was like a turbo kicking in. I hung on for a couple of long seconds whilst my mind raced through the rapidly developing issues. I was happy we had broken into new territory but was also determined not to do anything gung-ho-stupid and destroy the foil. It was nearing low tide and flamingoes were standing in the shallows at the far end of speed spot. If I ran up there I could easily destroy the foil and end this record session. Fortunately the whole show was brought to a stop in the usual manner albeit with a little more distance involved. I knew it was 60. It had to be. It's what I imagined 60 would be like. Hard and fast. The ride firms right up and the chop turns into a rapid chatter. VSR2 just locks into a course and begins to feel lighter as the loads she is torn between get bigger and bigger.

So the peak was 61.92 knots (71.3 mph or 114.75 kph). The average was 54.08 knots over 500 meters and the best five second average was 59.08 knots. As mentioned, the low speed on the 500 meter average was 47 knots. Even if we don't go faster, it shouldn't be hard to bring that 47 up into the mid 50's. That should do the trick.

The thing is that I don't trust the kiters. They make me feel uneasy. They're hungry for this game and they are not going to give this speed mantle away without a fight. I'm not sure what their real limits are yet. For all this time we have been trying to bag this outright world record but even now... before we have even achieved that... I am wondering if that will make me happy. I guess this challenge has turned into something bigger than the actual record. With this boat we want to push the limits of the sport itself. The performance of the kiters has forced us to build this wonderful machine and to aim high. With that last run we entered a whole new world of performance. It's a fascinating world full of possibilities.

In one way it is akin to when sailing boats realised they could follow their powered brothers from displacement mode to planing mode. Our new foils have many similarities to that analogy. They no longer have long thin transoms but are actually at their thickest there with the aim of getting the water to separate cleanly. It's no longer just water down there but now it is air and vapour mixing in weird and wonderful ways. These can be played with using all sorts of 'bolt-on' devices. It really is fascinating. I've been lost in this world for the last year and am still only just realising how little I know about it.

So I expect the kiters to one day reach an average of 60 knots. I don't know how or when... but that's what I expect. I'm not entirely sure of what their physical limits are but I know they are hungry. We want to get to a 60 knot average now. I don't know if Mother Nature is going to help us out here but we will be on standby for any and every opportunity.

As we sprayed the Pol Roger champagne over the main foil the other night I joked that I hoped that this was the only type of cavitation that this foil would ever see.

Only yesterday when we hosed it all off did I really see/feel certain 'chalkiness' to the normally super-smooth surface near the tip of the foil and along the suction surface near the TE. I'm pretty sure that this is pitting caused by cavitation. The interesting thing is why we haven't seen this before i.e. when hitting the 'glass-ceiling' at 52 knots? It makes me wonder yet again about what we are looking at.

I'm now sure that we can smash the existing record. VSR2 has showed her hand and it's holding some aces. I will also be the first to acknowledge that we haven't done it yet. There’s a heap of ways not to get the record out there. I still have that slightly edgy feeling that comes when you have it all to lose.


Despite our expectations, this is all new to us. Lying awake in the middle of the night and not having to wonder if the boat will ever really do it is a wonderful new sensation. I live and breathe this boat. It's great to be where we are at right now... with the expectation AND the knowledge. Yeah, we are aiming high... and yes I will be real happy when we grab that title for the first time.


One of these days this ride home is going to be that little bit more special.

Cheers,

P.S. Thanks for all the messages of support and encouragement. I read them all and reply to as many as I can. Many of you have been backing us for a long time. You're all part of this snowballs Vestas Sailrocket website

Protector - 660 x 82Insun - AC ProgramPredictWind.com 2014

Related Articles

North Sails - 60 years of sailmaking - 1986 12 Metre Worlds
In early 1986, a series of races were held off of Fremantle as a precursor to the 1987 America’s Cup. In early 1986, a series of races were held off of Fremantle as a precursor to the 1987 America’s Cup. Dubbed the 12 Metre World Championship, a dozen syndicates competed in what they considered a “shakedown series” to test their boats against the competition. Some of the teams had new builds, their first development boats.
Posted today at 9:33 pm
Heiner's consistency pays dividends in Sailing World Cup Hyères
Heiner has been one of the most reliable performers with a string of top five finishes to lead in the Finn. Out of the 534 racers from 52 nations, racing across the ten Olympic events, Foiling Formula Kiteboarding and 2.4 Norlin OD, Heiner has been one of the most reliable performers with a string of top five finishes to lead in the Finn.
Posted today at 7:42 pm
Clagett Oakcliff Match Race Regatta announces coaches
The 2016 regatta, which had eight teams from across the US taking part will increase to 10 teams in 2017. The 2016 regatta, which had eight teams from across the US taking part will increase to 10 teams in 2017. It is expected there will be teams from the US, and international teams from Canada, parts of Europe and the Caribbean have expressed interest in attending.
Posted today at 6:37 pm
The world of sailing comes to Antigua Sailing Week
A staggering number of sailors from worldwide are descending on the Caribbean Antigua island to celebrate 50th edition. About 1,500 competitors from 32 countries will enjoy five days of world class racing, preceded by the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race and the Peters and May Round Antigua Race.
Posted today at 10:09 am
Ida Lewis Distance Race - Popular sailboat race set for August
The 13th edition of the Ida Lewis Distance Race is scheduled to start on Friday, August 18, 2017 The 13th edition of the Ida Lewis Distance Race is scheduled to start on Friday, August 18, 2017, promising once again to deliver an exciting late-season topper to a busy summer of competitive racing on Narragansett Bay. Classes for IRC, PHRF, One Design, Multihull and Double-Handed insure that everyone (with a qualifying boat of 28 feet or longer) has a place to fit in.
Posted today at 7:21 am
Sperry Charleston Race Week 2017 in review
The underlying goal for every race organizer – even those staging benefit regattas – is to provide safe, fair sailing The underlying goal for every race organizer – even those staging benefit regattas – is to provide safe, fair, competitive sailing. When you have your hands on the helm of a mega regatta such as Sperry Charleston Race Week, that doesn’t change. But it does become more complicated.
Posted today at 2:19 am
New faces in town with RC44 Sotogrande Cup set to begin
This event follows from last season's RC44 World Championship also held off this magnificent development Of the eight teams competing off Sotogrande, favourite is Igor Lah's Team CEEREF. Not only is the cockpit on the Slovenian RC44 adorned with the overall championship leader's 'golden wheels', but Lah's team also won the World Championship here in 2016.
Posted on 26 Apr
Sailing World Cup Hyères –Day 2– Zegers and van Veen show how its done
Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen were unstoppable on day two, winning both Women's 470 races in convincing style Out of the 534 competitors from 52 nations racing across ten Olympic events, Open Kiteboarding and 2.4 Norlin OD, the Dutch team were the standout performers.
Posted on 26 Apr
Women’s Sailing Conference slated for June 3 Marblehead, MA
The event, which features hands-on land and water-based workshops and seminars, offers women a fantastic opportunity The event, which features hands-on land and water-based workshops and seminars, offers women a fantastic opportunity to learn or hone sailing skills, network with other women sailors from all over the United States and gain the confidence necessary to become a valuable crew member or knowledgeable skipper
Posted on 26 Apr
GC32 Racing Tour Owner-Driver Championship heats up
Unique aspect of GC32 is that compared to other foiling catamarans, it is simpler to sail and logistically easier to run Team Argo is sailing with the same crew as it had for February’s GC32 Championship in Oman, including leading American Moth and big boat sailor Anthony Kotoun and British former Olympic and America’s Cup sailor Alister Richardson.
Posted on 26 Apr