Frustration for Macquarie team

Australian team foiled in their latest bid to break the 46.52 knot barrier

Friday April 19th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australasia
Conditions have foiled the attempts of the Macquarie Innovation speed team from breaking their own outright world speed sailing record.

Based inAustralia the team was on standby for the best part of a month in order to make their latest attempt. The team are current holders of this record with their Yellow Pages. In October 1993 at Sandy Point, near Melbourne, she set a speed of 46.52 knots over the requisite measured 0.5 kilometre.

Macquarie Innovation is effectively a flying proa. She was used for the team's 1998 attempt on the speed record, but on this occasion experienced a problem which few other sailing craft can claim - slack in the steering when sailing at more than 40 knots! Since then the steering has been redesigned and now incorporates a worm drive that directly moves the steering foils on the front pod (instead of a steering tiller). Minor improvements have also been made to her wingmast-based rig.

While Lindsay Cunningham once again led the team the boat was steered by the regular pairing of Simon McKeon and Tim Daddo, handling the helm and main sheet as they did due their record breaking run in 1998.

Peter Bird of the World Speed Sailing Record Council was present in order to set up the course for the recent attempts and brought us these observations.

"The course was again laid out by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Sixteen sets of transit posts were set at intervals of 500.30m. which provided a series of eleven courses, with a 44 degree range (from 086 -130 degrees magnetic). Thus wind from a direction of 186-240 degrees was required for a speed attempt, as Macquarie Innovation requires a wind angle of approximately 105-110 degrees off the bow for optimum performance.

"Transit posts are clearly identified and the start/finish transits marked with separate markers at the water's edge, so the crew (and camera/timer) can easily recognise the start/finish. As the transits were set at exactly 500.30 m the speed could be calculated for each 100m.

"The timing arrangements were as for 1998 - a Sony Digital Camera with timer located in the crew pod set so that transit posts and markers were clearly visible. The timer was accuracy tested to a shutter speed of 0.04secs. Tidal current was measured immediately after each run and ranged from zero to 0.3 knots either side of low water.

Bird says that following a number of practice runs the problems with the steering system have now been resolved. Unfortunately the opportunity to test out Macquarie Innovations to its full potential was not available during the 28 day campaign. The wind of the required steady strength (17-20 knots) from the south west, was never materialised when it was wanted.

This was the sixth campaign since 1992 covering Yellow Pages Endeavour, Extreme 50 and now Macquarie Innovation. Five of the team (including Bird) have participated in all six attempts while fifteen others made themselves available for some part of or all of the last two campaigns.

Bird commented that while the team was disappointed that good speed runs were not achieved, nevertheless team spirit was excellent and there appeared a common resolve to 'have another go' at some time in the not-too-distant future.

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