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Light winds to test Wot Rocket

by Lisa Ratcliff on 12 May 2008
Wot Rocket being lowered into the water Christophe Launay
The Wot Rocket project team will tomorrow assemble the half sail boat/sail plane at Kurnell in Sydney’s south before testing for the world speed sailing record attempt commences on Botany Bay. With light autumn NE/NW winds forecast for rest of the week however, there may be few, if any, windows with enough grunt to get Wot Rocket rocketing.

Creator and pilot Sean Langman is not perturbed by the benign forecast. 'It allows us to ease into the first testing phase and will give us plenty of time to get to know Botany Bay. While we wait for the wind we’ll undertake launch and recovery drills including learning to tow Wot Rocket behind a protector, and we’ll start getting through the smaller jobs like marking the windscreen with wind direction arrows'.

The forecast for Sydney waters through to Thursday is for 5-10 knot winds with a slight increase expected late Thursday and again mid morning on Friday, the final day of this particular test period.

Langman is anticipating a minimum 10-15 knots will be needed for a decent simulated run across the Bay, and at least 20 knots of breeze before Wot Rocket lifts up on its foils, much like an International Moth. Once Wot Rocket’s up on its foils, this is when supercavitation is expected to come into play. Supercavitation will in effect mean Wot Rocket flies in a gas bubble created by the outward deflection of water by a specially shaped nose cone and the expansion of gases from its fin and foil design. By keeping water from contacting the surface of the body of Wot Rocket, this will significantly reduce drag and allow extremely high speeds.

With a replacement set of canopies still on order and a light air forecast, Langman and co-pilot Martin Thompson are comfortable in the interim using the same set that suffered damage last week when the pod was dropped from almost three metres into Sydney Harbour in a simulated crash test. Those canopies are being repaired for this week’s outing.

'There will be a number of test sails scheduled before the official world speed sailing record attempt… this is the first of many,' Langman added today.

The current world speed sailing record of 49.09 knots (90.9 kilometres per hour) was set by French sail boarder Antoine Albeau in France in March this year.
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