60 knots in sight

Helena Darvelid / www.sailrocket.com
Paul Larsen updates us about his Vestas SailRocket 2 campaign
Fingers crossed, touch wood – at some point over November-December this year we could see the world sailing speed record down a 500m course taken over 60 knots and it could be a ‘boat’ that does it rather one of the pesky kiteboards or sailboards. Having launched Vestas SailRocket 2 this spring in Cowes (to find more about this see the video here), so this extraordinary yacht, designed to the concept laid down by Bernard Smith, is now down in Walvis Bay, Namibia and according to her pilot, Paul Larsen, prospects are good. Already Vestas SailRocket 2 has hit 50 knots and that was with a passenger, a journalist from Wired magazine, in the back seat. “It was a little bit unexpected,” says Larsen of that run. “It was quite gusty that day. Here, if it is a day that is going to be quite windy, often it is only when the day really starts to max out that it locks into the correct true wind angle that we need to do a good run. So it hadn’t quite settled and we were getting gusts of 21-31 knots, shifting through 15-20 degrees but I thought ‘let’s see how the boat goes with someone else in the back of it’, because we haven’t done that before.” Initially there was a problem to get started because of the extra weight in the bow. As Larsen describes it: “I need to spend a lot of time drifting sideways with everything fully stalled – the sail and the foils, etc. It is like backwinding a jib through a tack – it is a matter of balancing everything so the boat rotates, and it wouldn’t do that, so we didn’t think we would get started.” Eventually they did get going and with a big gust towards the end