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Project Landspeed: World record just a few kmh's away - onboard video

by Emirates Team NZ 5 Dec 2022 15:20 PST 5 December 2022
Emirates Team NZ - World wind powered speed record - Lake Gairdner - December 2022 © Emirates Team NZ

After what has seemed like endless weather delays over the past couple of months, finally Horonuku got to stretch its legs on a dry Lake Gairdner with breeze that is edging closer into the required zone for world record attempts.

The promising weather forecast coupled with reports of a dry lake was enough for the Landspeed team to remobilise within days and get back to the lake to re-rig Horonuku in searing 40-degree temperatures in preparation for the expected 20+ knot SW front on Sunday evening.

Glenn Ashby and the team were poised on the lake for the wind to kick in late into the afternoon, “We could see the clouds changing and wind starting to build, which it did pretty rapidly so we were ready to go.” Explained Ashby

“The breeze kicked in and we were straight into it. The guys gave me a push start and pretty much the best breeze we saw was in the first two runs. The first run we had about 20 knots and we got up to 190km/h.”

Ashby on the helm gybed straight into his second run as the breeze got up to 22-23 knots. “Just the slightest increase in wind pressure and the speeds kept clocking up. So we were happy to be able to get over 200km/h today [S-W: The record is 202.9km/h.

That was as much breeze as we had all day but we managed to get about another 10 runs after this in what was a very stable breeze of around 17 knots for the remainder of our session.”

It was the most positive session for the Land speed team so far, not yet about timing or clocking official records but identifying obvious elements that can be improved to increase performance to be able to achieve the best speeds possible.

“The steering was tough work,” explained Ashby.

“There is constantly a lot of load on the steering so this is the main focus to identify solutions to lighten that load as this will help with performance.

From 90-95 true wind angle, which is where I am building vital speed it was really heavy but as soon as I bear away though, the steering wheel is neutralised and unloaded and goes very light and floaty. So to be able to build speed more efficiently and effortlessly will help in reaching higher speeds before the bear away.”

Ray Davies, who is also on the ground at Lake Gairdner, is clear on what the next few days sailing objectives need to be in similar wind conditions, “We probably won’t be sailing in record breaking breeze, but certainly there will be enough to get into those top end speeds, so we need to keep pushing our configurations to be getting the most out of Horonuku. Also a key element is just getting as much time as possible in that 200km/h zone that Glenn becomes more and more comfortable so when he needs to make a push to the maximum speed he can, he is not completely out of his comfort zone.”

So the constant search of performance gains continues as will the patience required for the optimal wind conditions that will provide the opportunity for an attempt at an ‘official’ world record run for the team. But for Ashby, he can take initial comfort that his new unchartered speeds in Horonuku come without too much surprise.

“It was exactly as I have been picturing it in my head and how I expected it to be at those speeds. There is plenty going on but am 100% comfortable to keep hanging on and sending it until it taps out. It is bloody awesome.”

But not nearly as awesome as it might be if Ashby can become the fastest person ever in a wind powered craft.

World records attempts must undergo a stringent verification process with either NALSA (North American Land Sailing Association) or FISLY (International Land and Sand Yachting Federation).

  • Must be sailed on a natural surface with a flat elevation within 1 metre of elevation
  • Starting only by human push start allowed for the record run
  • The record speed must be more than one mile per hour for at least 3 seconds above the existing record (>204.5km/h x 3")

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