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SailRocket relocates to Namibia & attracts major sponsor

by Paul Larsen 12 Mar 2007 07:49 GMT
The radical UK backed SailRocket team relocate to the incredible Walvis Bay speed-strip in Namibia © SailRocket

The radical UK backed SailRocket project has added two huge pieces to the puzzle in its quest to be the fastest sailing boat in the world.

The SailRocket project has been relocated to the incredible WALVIS BAY speed-strip in NAMIBIA. The team and craft are on site and ready for action.

HOMETRACK, the UK based housing information business has recently joined up as a major sponsor of the SailRocket team.

Australian Paul Larsen, manager and pilot of SailRocket comments: ‘We are delighted to have the support of Hometrack for this the crucial stage in the development of the craft. Hometrack’s support enables us to focus on the job in hand… going faster!’

Malcolm Barnsley, SailRocket’s British designer, has had all of his performance predictions and real world data independently scrutinised.

Malcolm comments: “It’s very important that we have a second opinion on some of the assumptions, simplifications and data that go into the VPP (Velocity Prediction Program) – especially when the craft is so far away from the norm. This input has come throughout the project from a number of professors and engineers outside the team but most recently from the world renowned WOLFSON MARINE UNIT in Southampton. They have confirmed that the general basis is sound and that the data being used is reasonable. What the VPP shows is a capability to sail (in smooth water ) at around 2.6 times wind speed in 20 knots of wind assuming the foil keeps the water flow attached.”

In theory this means SailRocket should be able to break the existing word record of 48.7 knots in a little over 19 knots of wind. It is our challenge to convert this theory into reality.

The team now have everything they need to become major contenders for the Outright world speed sailing record.

Development is the key word as it was something that was simply not possible in the UK winter. SailRocket hit 30 knots after only 5 minutes sailing with its new solid-wing sail. That was in early December but then the winter weather kicked in. The team remained on standby for the next month and a half in Weymouth but never saw the necessary conditions to get out on the water. It was frustrating and demoralising. They had a great boat ready for action but couldn’t use it… and the money had run out.

The decision was made to spend the last dollars checking out some of the other highly rated speed sailing locations. Early in January Paul, came down to Walvis Bay. “The place is incredible and the infrastructure already in place is much better than we could have hoped for. Juergen Geiger at the FREE AIR centre has been running world class speed sailing events down here for the past four years. The locals are very experienced in what we need.

I sat out on the course for two days taking wind and tide measurements and it looked fantastic. On the third day I hired some windsurfing gear and did some runs down the mile long strip. At the end of my first run I had been faster on a board than ever before. I pulled into the beach and sat on the sand looking back. We know that in order to hit the speeds that the computer models suggest, we need to get computer like conditions.

This place wasn’t perfect, but it’s as close as you could hope for in the real world. I just knew that we had to bring our boat to this incredible spot. We had found a huge part of the speed sailing puzzle.”

Paul got back to the UK on January the 17th and hit the ground running. They now had a clear direction. Existing sponsors were contacted and new ones brought on board. By March 6th SailRocket was sitting on the shore of the Walvis Bay speed-strip fully configured for sailing. It has been a busy couple of months. Many thanks must also go to VESTAS BLADES UK, EKSPAN and COMPLETE FREIGHT, they really did make the relocation happen… and fast.

Whilst the goal is simply to be the fastest whatever that speed need be, the team is fully aware that a full-on race has developed along the way to be the first boat in history to break through 50 knots.

Paul says, “It’s probably the most amazing race you’ll find. It involves an incredible array of sailors and disciplines sprawled all over the world trail blazing the boundaries of what is possible with wind and water. There is everything from simple kite-surfers up to huge 60’ hydrofoiling trimarans. They are all on the water NOW and they are all capable. One thing is for sure, if there is a race on then we at SailRocket will do our best to win it!”

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