Please select your home edition
Edition
Protector 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

Insun - AC ProgramMackay BoatsWildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

RC44 Sotogrande Cup – Rain does not stay on the plain
Rain of Old Testament magnitude descended on Spain's Costa del Sol for day two. While the wind was not excessive Even as RC44 crews and race management surfaced for their breakfast this morning, it was evident that the onshore easterly breeze, that had been blowing all night, had caused the sea state to build to the extent that waves were already breaking over the harbour wall.
Posted today at 3:05 pm
28th May announced as the America’s Cup Endeavour Day
The America’s Cup Endeavour Program is the America’s Cup’s ambitious youth sailing and educational program The America’s Cup Endeavour Program is the America’s Cup’s ambitious youth sailing and educational program, dedicated to inspiring everybody who engages with the initiative and to leaving a sporting legacy in Bermuda that has a strong, positive impact on the community.
Posted today at 2:51 pm
Challenging Qingdao tests Extreme Sailing Series fleet in Act 2 opener
As the fleet of seven crews hit the water the wind was down to just a couple of knots, delaying the start of racing. China's Olympic Sailing City is renowned for its tricky weather conditions that can catch sailors off guard with sudden changes – and the opening day of Act 2 Qingdao 'Mazarin Cup' was a prime example.
Posted today at 2:12 pm
Extreme Sailing Series – Team Oman Air promise to bounce back
Qingdao is notorious for delivering tricky conditions that can change in an instant, and that's just what happened today After almost two hours of bobbing around waiting for enough wind to allow action to commence, a solid 15-knot breeze swept over the seven-strong fleet allowing three races to be held.
Posted today at 1:35 pm
Antigua Sailing Week – 8 teams contest Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge
Racing is done in two preliminary heats of three races each. The two top finishers of each heat go to the final round Racing is done in two preliminary heats of three races each. The two top finishers of each heat go to the final round, which also consists of three races. All races are approximately 15 to 20 minutes in length keeping them challenging and exciting to watch!
Posted today at 11:50 am
RYA announces new Olympic Performance Manager
The RYA is delighted to complete its World Class Programme management team with the appointment of Mark Robinson Robinson, who joins the British Sailing Team in June from a Performance Manager role at Australian Sailing, takes on the post vacated by Stephen Park OBE and will lead the world’s leading Olympic sailing nation as it continues its quest for medal success in Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
Posted today at 11:40 am
Marion Bermuda 2017... an Extravaganza
Entries now stand at 60 yachts for the 2017 Marion Bermuda Race and there is still time to get off the fence Entries now stand at 60 yachts for the 2017 Marion Bermuda Race and there is still time to get off the fence and enter this classic, 40th Anniversary Race.
Posted today at 4:32 am
RC44 PRO earns his bucks on snakes and ladders opening day
Sotogrande, Spain laid on a tricky first day of the 2017 RC44 Championship. Sotogrande, Spain laid on a tricky first day of the 2017 RC44 Championship. Nonetheless Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio read his crystal ball well enough to stage four races on this course which uniquely has Europe, Gibraltar and North Africa as a backdrop.
Posted today at 3:57 am
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 on 27 Apr
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 on 27 Apr