Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Dinghy Wetsuits

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

Zhik Dinghy 660x82Southern Spars - 100InSunSport - NZ

Related Articles

2017 Marion Bermuda Race offers front row seats for America’s Cup
Enjoy all the post-race fun and activities at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club and stay on for your front row seat Enjoy all the post-race fun and activities at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club and stay on for your front row seat
Posted today at 6:15 pm
Dodging ducks, savoring summer—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond
Editorial Editorial
Posted today at 4:23 pm
Full focus on board Oman Air for Extreme Sailing Series St Petersburg
With a lead on the overall scoreboard following their last gasp win in Hamburg the pressure is on to maintain 100% focus With a five-point lead on the overall scoreboard, following their last gasp win in Hamburg, the pressure is on to maintain 100% focus to make sure they perform to their maximum capabilities right up until the final race in Sydney in December.
Posted today at 12:49 pm
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug
Hollandia wins 8 Metre World Cup
After nine race series, Netherlands' Hollandia wins it with eight points. The racing took place in a range of conditions After a five day, nine race series, Hollandia of the Netherlands wins it with eight points. The racing took place in a range of conditions and Hollandia managed to win every race.
Posted on 29 Aug
Volvo Ocean Race - Enright and Towill ready to go again in 2017/18
Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put their experience to use. Team Alvimedica were the youngest team in the race last edition, and now skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put that experience to use. Volvo Ocean race's Jonno Turner caught up with Mark and Charlie to chat about everything from the transition back into 'real life', their reflections on the 2014-15 campaign - and the future.
Posted on 29 Aug
Noroton Yacht Club takes the NYYC Grandmasters Team Race Trophy again
The yacht club from Darien, Connecticut, still out sailed every other club on the water. Every August the biggest question for the NYYC Grandmasters Team Race Regatta is whether this will be the year that Noroton Yacht Club's winning streak ends. Yet even after the age minimums were raised by five years and the event was expanded to 10 teams and three days to stiffen the competition, the yacht club from Darien, Connecticut, still out sailed every other club on the water.
Posted on 29 Aug
The door’s been flung open – again
Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing gets sexier for Tokyo Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing may get sexier for Tokyo 2020. Yes, the proverbial door has been cast ajar before, often to much fanfare, and not that much has been achieved.
Posted on 28 Aug
Michael Illbruck crowned 2016 Melges 20 World Champion
Although not a simple task, Freides aimed to keep Illbruck behind him, or at minimum out of top nine ranking. Hosted by Marina di Scarlino/Club Nautico Scarlino, the World Championship was the most successful to date featuring four days of incredible sportboat racing.
Posted on 28 Aug