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World's fastest Hydroptere to go for Pacific record

by Des Ryan on 28 Apr 2013
Hydroptere - photo by Kimball Livingstone .. .

While purists have dubbed the state-of-the-art vessel Hydroptere as 'the flying boat' because it combines leading technology from both the aeronautic and marine industries, it is determined to take the record, which stands currently at five days and nine hours - itself an incredible feat.


French yachtsman Alain Thébault, who designed the experimental boat, is leading the record-breaking attempt in the yacht which can reach speeds of over 50 knots. The current record has been held since 1997, by a French team.

The vessel and the rest of the team, architect Jean Nouvel, and teammates Jean Le Cam and Yves Palier, are currently in California preparing to launch the attempt.

They will set off at the end of May or the beginning of June but have not set a date because it will depend on the perfect weather conditions.

Mr Thébault told Mail Online: 'In June the position of the Pacific anticyclone is ideal because it provides the most direct route to Hawaii. The thermal wind is active in this season and we will quickly leave the California coast.

'Then we will surf the long Pacific swell downwind and we will probably have to make a gibe close the Hawaiian Islands.'

This is just the first record of many that the crew have set their hearts on. The sailors also want to break the average sailing speed barrier of 80 knots. In the trimaran, the team also want to cross the Atlantic in three days and cross the barrier of one thousand nautical miles in 24 hours.

Mr Thébault said:'We have considerable experience in the field of foils and high speed. With these three challenges, we have an ambitious program in the short, medium and long term.

'Technology, human adventure and pioneering spirit will always be the core of the project.'


How does it work?
The trimaran rises above the sea surface to eliminate resistance using its 'marine wings', which are under each of the floats of the trimaran. Its name is even taken from the Greek for water and wing. Once the boat reaches ten knots, the underwater wings generate an upward thrust to raise the boat like the wing of a plane. The hull and the floats then fly five metres above the sea surface and just 2.5 square metres of the boat is in contact with the water.

In a feat of engineering, the ship's foils manage to withstand a huge amount of pressure, which is estimated to be twice as much pressure as the wings of a jet fighter. The boat can accelerate from 20 to 45 knots in just ten seconds.

Development on the extraordinary trimaran began more than 20 years ago and is made from carbon fibre and titanium.

Hydroptere broke the outright sailboat speed world record in 2009 when it sustained a speed of 52.86 knots for 500metres in just 30 knots of wind.

(The outright world speed sailing record has been held since November 24 2012 by Australian Paul Larsen in the Vestas Sailrocket 2 with a time of 65.37 knots.)

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