Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 728x90

Vestas Sailrocket 2 project returns to Namibia

by Paul Larsen on 14 Sep 2012
Vestas Sailrocket 2 © Helena Darvelid/VestasSailrocket http://www.sailrocket.com/
This September the Vestas Sailrocket 2 project will be returning to the waters of Walvis Bay in Namibia with a new hydrofoil package which they hope will bring them an outright world speed sailing record.

The record currently stands at 55.65 knots (64 mph) and is held by American Kite Surfer Rob Douglas. Vestas Sailrocket 2 was built in the Vestas R+D facilities on the Isle of Wight and launched in the Medina River in March 2011. The project then relocated to Namibia where ideal conditions occur on a regular basis.

From its launch in the UK, Vestas Sailrocket 2 rapidly progressed up the speed sailing ladder and after only 23 runs, hit speeds over 50 knots down the magical mile long course at Walvis Bay's 'Speed-spot'. The team then made continual improvements to the boat and tried a number of underwater foil configurations but seemed to be hitting a 'glass ceiling' in performance in the low 50 knot speed range regardless of which foil options they tried or how much wind they sailed in.

Chris Hornzee-Jones - Aerotrope/VSR2 designer. Once you start going through the water over 50 knots you are going to start encountering a phenomenon called cavitation. This can be likened to the hydrodynamic equivalent of the 'Sound Barrier'. The property of the water changes as it turns from liquid to vapour on certain parts of the foil. This requires a very different approach to how you design them. The problem gets even more complicated as air from the surface also tries to get sucked down onto the foil and cause it to lose grip. This mixture of air, vapour and very high-speed water is all very dynamic and extremely hard to model by computer or even in high-speed flow tanks. Most projects to date have simply pushed conventional foil theory to the limits and that's why speed sailing is stuck at the current speeds in the low 50's. Vestas Sailrocket 2 was designed from the outset to be a breakthrough boat. It is designed to be an ideal testing platform for trialling new foil concepts which will allow us to break through this 'glass ceiling' and perform at speeds well over 60 knots.

Paul Larsen - Australian project manager/pilot of VSR2. This is the second craft we have developed for this record. We saw the potential of the concept revealed with our first boat but this version is aiming to use that potential to knock down some of sailings biggest physical barriers. If we can do that then the world records will come with the territory. From my perspective in the cockpit, this version of the boat is a delight to sail. It is much less traumatic than the first boat. VSR2 is just ambling down the course at 50 knots in a very stable manner. Hopefully these new foils we have designed will allow her to really show her potential. I'm sure she won't feel so docile over 60 knots. I think she's patiently waiting for us to gain the understanding to release her from all the drag and give her free rein.'


Vestas Sailrocket 2 is indeed a radical craft. It looks perhaps more like a plane than a boat because a lot of attention has been focused on the aerodynamic efficiency and stability of the craft however, she still relies very much on the hydrodynamics to allow her to carve across the wind. It is based on a concept where all the overturning forces typically associated with sailing craft are removed. This allows the boat to use the wind created by its own speed to generate a lot of its ultimate power without actually getting overpowered. Whilst VSR2 might actually be sailing in only 25 knots of real wind, at full speed the lightweight, carbon fibre boat and its rigid wing sail feels like it is sailing in over 60 knots of wind and yet doesn't require traditional systems of weights and levers to remain stable.

Malcolm Barnsley - Vestas test engineer/VSR2 design team. We are delighted with the way the boat has developed to date. It has been pushed very hard by the sailing team and has shown time and again that it is a great platform for taking new foil designs to their limit in the 'real' world. We have learnt an immense amount already with this boat. Even though our first version of very high speed foils was shown not to be the answer, they also showed us certain aspects that were right. With the new foils we have incorporated these aspects and hopefully used our understanding to design out the parts that were holding us back. We are heading into new territory here. It's a dark alley and of course it is hard to be certain of what lies ahead until you illuminate it with your own knowledge. We have followed a path that seems logical and have chosen what we also hope is the safer, reliable option rather than the extreme one. The potential of this boat is enormous but if these foils allow us just to reveal a portion of that potential... then world records should fall'.

The new foil is currently being manufactured in Bristol. Team members will shortly head down to Namibia where Vestas Sailrocket 2 is currently located. They will assemble the boat and base in preparation for the arrival of the rest of the team and the new foil. The focus will be on developing the new foil and some of its 'add-ons' to see if it truly is the missing piece of the puzzle that will allow the team to realise their dream. The team is still looking for answers and they know that nothing is certain until proven beyond doubt in the real world. If the new foils do what they are supposed to do, a World record attempt will be booked with the WSSRC (governing body) in the October-December period this year. Vestas Sailrocket website

Barz Optics - Melanin LensesNaiad/Oracle SupplierBakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

JJ Giltinan Trophy - More images from a funky Day 1 on Sydney Harbour
More images from Michael Chittenden from the first race of the 2017 JJ Giltinan Trophy on Sydney Harbour, Michael Chittenden was on the water for the first race of the 2017 JJ Giltinan Trophy on Sydney Harbour, sailed in a funky breeze, leaden skies and plenty of rain. Plus a 300 metre long cruise liner at one end of the course and a waka wall at the other
Posted on 25 Feb
Vendee Globe - Video of Conrad Colman finish in Les Sables d'Olonne
Scenes of Kiwi solo round the world racer, Conrad Colman taken at the finish of the Vendee Globe race Scenes of Kiwi solo round the world racer, Conrad Colman taken at the finish of the Vendee Globe race, which he completed under jury rig after being dismasted 700nm from the finish. In Foresight Natural Energy Colman became the first New Zealand sailor to complete the Vendee Globe, he also became the first in eight editions of the race to sail the entire race using only renewable energy sources.
Posted on 25 Feb
Vendee Globe - Heerema delayed by Biscay lows
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 on 25 Feb
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 on 25 Feb
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 on 25 Feb
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 on 25 Feb
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 on 25 Feb
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 on 25 Feb
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