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

North Technology - Southern SparsBarz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearBakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Heerema delayed by Biscay lows, Groundhog Day for Destremau
With 16 boats now finished, eighth edition of the Vendée Globe becomes the race with greatest ever number of finishers. With 16 boats now finished, the eighth edition of the Vendée Globe becomes the race with greatest ever number of finishers. Until now it was the 2000-2001 edition, with 24 starters and 15 finishers, which saw the biggest number of starters reach the end of their race at the legendary South Nouch buoy.
Posted today at 10:24 am
Bella Mente Racing starts 2017 season with major victory at RORC C600
Bella Mente Racing starts 2017 season off with major victory at RORC Caribbean 600 Bella Mente Racing, led by owner/driver Hap Fauth, launched its 2017 campaign season with a major victory this week, winning IRC Overall, CSA Overall and CSA 1 at the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua; The team took home coveted RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy for the IRC win as well as the Bella Mente Trophy, the team’s namesake award, for being first IRC yacht to finish that is wholly manually powered.
Posted today at 4:54 am
Cool drone footage of Dongfeng Race Team on the water
Dongfeng is back in the water and training is well underway for the returning Chinese campaign. Dongfeng is back in the water and training is well underway for the returning Chinese campaign. Stunning drone footage of the re-fitted Volvo Ocean 65 has been released as the team hit the water off the coast of Lisbon.
Posted today at 3:52 am
49th Transpac early entry deadline approaches on March 1st
Planning for the 49th edition of the Los Angeles-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race is well underway Planning for the 49th edition of the Los Angeles-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race presented by the Los Angeles Times and organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club is well underway, with 52 monohull and multihull entries from nine nations already signed up for this biennial 2225-mile ocean race, one of the world's oldest having first been sailed in 1905.
Posted today at 3:36 am
18ft Skiffs - JJ Giltinan Trophy - Replay coverage - Race 1
Live coverage of Race 1 of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs from Sydney harbour - sailing in the wind and rain Replay of Race 1 of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs from Sydney harbour - sailing in the wind and rain
Posted today at 3:25 am
Hat-trick all around for Phaedo^3 in this year Caribbean 600
Lloyd Thornburg and crew of Phaedo^3 have gained not only line honours each time but also three wins in their class. Lloyd Thornburg and the crew of his MOD70 Phaedo^3 for the last three editions of the RORC Caribbean 600 have gained not only line honours each time but also three wins in their class.
Posted today at 3:16 am
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman's thoughts on his incredible performance
Colman was the first boat in the history of the race to finish using only natural energy, no fossil fuels After finishing 16th in the Vendee Globe, crossing the finish line under the jury rig which had carried him the final 720 miles of his race since he was dismasted, Conrad Colman was greeted by a hero's welcome into Les Sables d'Olone. The first New Zealander to complete the race he was also the first boat in the history of the race to finish using only natural energy, no fossil fuels.
Posted on 24 Feb
More winners announced in RORC Caribbean 600
As dawn broke on day five, crews who had finished the race were beginning to arrive back in Antigua. At Dawn on the fifth day, the leading Class40s were approaching the finish. Throughout the race, the battle in the class had been intense, with three yachts taking the lead at various points along the course.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman finishes under jury rig
Colman constructed and stepped a remarkable jury rig which has allowed him to sail the final 740 miles of 27,440nm race New Zealander Conrad Colman wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the Vendée Globe when he crossed the finish line of the eighth edition of the non stop solo round the world race under a makeshift jury rig.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendée Globe – Romain Attanasio takes fifteenth place
French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the solo race around the world French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the non stop solo race around the world this morning (Friday 24th February) when he crossed the finish line at 1006hrs UTC.
Posted on 24 Feb