Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

The local heroes on Xabi Fernàndez’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The local heroes on Xabi Fernández’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Fernández and his team made a bold call at the start to duck behind the entire fleet in order to sail up what turned out to be the favoured right hand side of the course, coming from behind to earn a narrow lead at the first gate.

“It was pretty clear from Joan (Vila) and Rob (Greenhalgh) that we wanted to hit the right side of the course in the first upwind looking for more breeze,” explained Fernández.

“Our intention was to start on port but Pablo (Arrarte) saw the gap himself when Brunel did a poor tack and they couldn’t accelerate so we want for the cross and we had plenty of room and once we hit the right everything went well.”

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

MAPFRE then managed to stretch out to a lead of nearly one-minute at the bottom gate, giving them a lead they would enjoy the rest of the way.

“The truth is it hasn’t been an easy race but we took a bit of a risk at the start,” Fernández said after the finish. “We saw the gap in front of Brunel and we went for it. Everything went really well.”

Watch the highlight video here

In fact, the Spanish team sailed a flawless race, in terms of strategy and execution, and were never threatened after grabbing the lead at the first mark.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

But behind them, it was a hard-fought race. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag was strong on the first leg, but dropped back over the course of the race. In contrast, Dongfeng Race Team fought up the fleet to grab second place, battling with Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team Brunel who were trading places throughout the race.

“There was a lot of action! MAPFRE played their own game alone but behind them, we had a big fight for second place. It’s good, it’s good,” said skipper Charles Caudrelier on Dongfeng Race Team.

“We showed how we can sail well, after having not such good results in the last few days. It’s great that we managed to come back and get this result.”

“It was a very exciting first In-Port Race for us,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “They’re always really close. You know, when you’re racing these 65-foot canting keel boats around a one-mile track it gets interesting, with a lot of exchanges and big headsails and a lot of grinding. We did some good things and some bad things and got third place. All in all, not a bad way to start the campaign.”

“I had a bad start and that put us on the back foot,” said Bouwe Bekking the skipper of Team Brunel. “But we sailed the boat very nicely. All in all, we’re pretty happy with how we sailed today.”

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race.

Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag made a late gain to grab fifth over team AkzoNobel with Turn the Tide on Plastic never recovering from a poor first leg.

“It was okay. Fifth’s not great but it was okay. We were second at the top but we just made one mistake on the first run and it cost us. Basically, it was good. Amazing to be racing here in Alicante,” said David Witt, the skipper of Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag.

MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante — Results

Position Team Elapsed Time Points
1 MAPFRE 54:38 7
2 Dongfeng Race Team 56:06 6
3 Vestas 11th Hour Racing 56:54 5
4 Team Brunel 57:13 4
5 Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 58:07 3
6 team AkzoNobel 58:31 2
7 Turn the Tide on Plastic 59:39 1
Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Team Vestas Wind (Photo by Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind)

Team Vestas Wind (Photo by Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind)

– Vestas launch ‘biggest B2B enlightenment campaign’

– Follow Team Vestas Wind and all the latest Race action here and on our app (Volvo Ocean Race)

– Don’t forget to sign up for our great new official Game

ALICANTE, Spain, Oct 7 – It’s been the question every follower of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 has been asking when they see the Team Vestas Wind slogan on their boat’s mainsail: What is ‘A Race We Must Win”?

Today Vestas, the world’s biggest wind manufacturer, gave the answer just four days before their crew and the rest of the seven-strong fleet leave Spain for the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race to Cape Town on Saturday.

Vestas Group SVP and chief marketing officer Morten Albaek describes the campaign as “probably the biggest business-to-business enlightenment campaign” ever undertaken.

“We want to tell the world that humanity is in A Race We Must Win and that it can be won only with the help of wind technology,” says Albaek, speaking from Alicante.

A Race We Must Win comprises three critical challenges currently facing mankind, each closing in on a point beyond which change for the worse is inevitable:

– The race against climate change where carbon reduction and investments to avoid carbon lock-in are urgently needed to avoid increasing global temperatures by more than the critical two degrees.

– The race against energy poverty where 1.3 billion today live without clean and reliable energy and whose immediate solution is coal and diesel unless otherwise supported.

– The race against water scarcity where 1.2 billion people live today with absolute water scarcity, an amount increasing dramatically as more than 40% of the global population is projected to be living in areas of severe water stress in 2050.

Vestas has installed a specially constructed pavilion in Alicante to illustrate these key issues and is planning to add “new elements” to the campaign in each of the key ports where the race and respective teams will stop over.

“We are not just talking about the problems but about the solutions and asking people to make commitments in their daily life,” says Albaek.

As part of its race activities, Vestas will engage with more than 1,000 decision makers among their key customers in key markets. Albaek points out that the 10 countries that the race will visit – including South Africa, China, Brazil and USA – represent “a significant part of our business for the next few years”.

“There will be millions of spectators coming down to the ports and these are citizens and consumers that need a message that is meaningful for them,” he adds.

Albaek says that Vestas’ campaign will not end when the Volvo Ocean Race finishes in Gothenburg in June 2015, but will feed in to the campaign to get concrete solutions to stop climate change at the Paris COP meeting later that year. “Our race won’t end with the Volvo Ocean Race, it will continue to Paris and beyond,” he adds

Paul Larsen and Sailrocket 2  blasting through another record day (Photo courtesy of Vestas Sailrocket)

Paul Larsen and Sailrocket 2 blasting through another record day (Photo courtesy of Vestas Sailrocket)

Paul Larsen and the VESTAS Sailrocket 2 Team continue to have an amazingly successful run in Walvis Bay, Namimbia. They are smashing records and opening champagne.  Read below an excerpt from Paul’s blog describing the excitement of the team as they dial in Sailrocket 2 for record breaking runs.

Challenge and Adventure’s founder Vikki Penney was a long time supporter of Paul Larsen and his Sailrocket team and we here at Challenge and Adventure know she is up there smiling happily down on you ad the rest of the team Paul.

In Paul’s own words;

“So let’s get this down here before I start forgetting stuff…
Last Saturday looked like it was going to be a strong day from the moment it popped onto the long range Windguru forecast. Amongst a bunch of fluctuating average days it barely deviated as it approached. We began to focus on it as being the day when we would go all out. Almost annoyingly, the day before piped up and blew just enough to force us to fully gear up and head towards speed-spot. We stopped just short of launching the boat. It was annoying as it was strong enough to force us to react but we really wanted to focus on the next day. You have to be reactive as for whatever reason, the next day may not deliver. Every opportunity has to be seized this year and we had already had two remarkable days on average forecasts.
That night we had dinner back at the crew house. I was about to raise a glass to the following day and the last day of living in the 50’s… but decided not to tempt fate. We had an early night.
It was already blowing from the SW in the morning. This combined with the strong forecast spoke to us that at long last, after over six weeks, we were going to get some good, old-school, industrial Walvis Bay wind.
Our focus was to smash through a 60 knot average. After our previous record runs there had been a heap of interviews and discussions about what it all represents. people doing articles on Hydroptere, Luderitz and Rob and Alex were all suddenly diverted to that ‘other team’ in Walvis Bay. Everyone wanted to know what we thought she could do. My guess was a little over 62 knots average. Although our 59.38 knot run was obviously hugely satisfying for us, I wasn’t comfortable to leave it at that. I sincerely felt that it was still within striking distance of the kiters. They could have an epic day at one of the venues and now they had all the motivation in the world to pull the stops out. I could just sense that they were buzzing like a hungry bunch of knife fighters whose leader had just been shot. They would want revenge and although they would figure they were on the offensive… we knew that the gun had plenty more bullets. Today we would spend them.
I was nervous about the potential of the day. It could all end a number of ways. There are crash scenarios for this boat that I’m pretty sure would be lethal. If the forward beam stay failed, the failure mode would be pretty worst case. A snap roll of the fuselage to leeward. Considering that it is traveeling sideways at 25 degrees and would be combined with a forward pod nose-dive… it would be violent. We had spent the previous few days pulling the boat apart and checking everything. Alex put dormant safety lines in key areas and serviced the wing. Ben had installed padding around the cockpit edging to protect my head. The crash harness and quick release was all serviced. The boat was good.
As I lay awake in bed that morning I considered writing a little note that I hoped would never be read and stashing it somewhere. Too morbid. Just get it right Larsen.
We had set all the previous records in relatively mild conditions and were yet to sail in average conditions over 26 knots. What would a boat with unlimited stability that is demostrating its ability to sail at around 2.4 X windspeed do in a 30+ knot gust?

Yeah it was going to be a big day alright. There was a sense of definite energy in the wind. I had told a few close friends that this was going to be it. If ever they wanted to see this boat do its stuff… then this was it. We made sure that our good luck team member Wally was on side. I also made sure that our friend and guru RC model plane flyer Bernt was there. He had a plane which could fly at 110kmh with a GoPro2 on it. It was going to be windy so it was going to be interesting to see what he could do with it as he was literally flying against VSR2’s apparent wind. We had more to organise than on most days. I spent the morning fitting a streamlined nose cone to the stub-beam that holds the main foil. Malcolm calculated that it could be good for 0.25 to 0.4 of a knot. That could make the difference (in a way it did). Things like that are free speed. ‘Givens’.
The wind continued to build. The forecast was playing out. I fully believed that it was going to ‘over develop’ and build to a strength beyond what we could safely handle. I also felt that this might be the first and last big day of this record attempt. I knew what I had to do today. As the day built I began to feel that we had to get out there early. It could have built too quick and left us with the horrible realisation that we missed it. With the big crew it took a lot longer to get ready. We had to send over two RIB loads of people to speed-spot. By the time it was our turn to get towed over it was already over 25 knots.

FOCUSED.

 

On the way I sat in the cockpit and pulled my cap low over my eyes. I leaned back against the new side padding that Ben had installed and just relaxed. As we entered the end of the magical mile that is speed spot I began checking the conditions out in detail. I watch the kiters and windsurfers and check out what sails they have up, how easily they waterstart etc etc. Many come past the boat as it is being towed and we swap quick expressions to discuss the wind and such. I got Alex to pull into the timing hut where I ran up and did a quick wind check. Conditions were good…. not great but worth pushing forward with. We already had gusts up to 27 but dips to 22. The direction was good and things were only going to get stronger. I felt pretty edgey. Big things happen on days like this. It was great to see so many friends over on this normally desolate landscape. Close friends who knew what all this meant to us. Malcolm and george were here. Malcolm has never seen either boat go over 50 knots yet! He would have front row seats to see something special today.

FRONT ROW SEAT FOR MALCOLM AS VSR2 HEADS UP THE COURSE.

 

I ran back down to the boat and we quickly took it up to the top of the course. I had a quick chat to the boys to remind them to stay cool if it goes wrong. They would be a long way behind and would arrive well after the crash. I could be anywhere as they approach and in any shape. I don’t wear a life jacket as I don’t want to be stuck inside an upturned hull. Maybe I should. If my drysuit gets torn then it could be a bad thing. I drifted out of the upturned cockpit of VSR1 unconscious once. I’m still not sure how. I sit much deeper in this boat. I reminded them once more of the harness I was wearing and its mechanism… but mostly just to stay calm and turn off any emotion. No drama, just cool heads. I was nervous but in an excited way. I knew what I had to do and I also believed that I was about to have the ride of my life.
The wing went up cleanly and all the little rigging extras were removed. We had a clean ship. Everything was good. I had removed all the comms. to Alex i.e. ripped them off my helmet and thrown them in the piss after getting lost in the French language menu whilst trying to connect! Hand signals work. The release from the RIB went pretty well and I don’t remember too many issues with getting over the initial ‘hump’.

The run was pretty good. It was definitely fast although it is amazing how quickly you become accustomed to the speed. The leeward pod was flying high and I couldn’t get it down as the adjustment was at its limits. It was a good run… but not a great run. When the RIB pulled alongside and escorted me into the beach I quickly lifted the rear hatch and checked the numbers… 63.17 peak and 58. 4 something average. No good. I tried to radio the group of people making the long walk down and tell them not to bother as we were going to turn around and make another run ASAP. The radios weren’t working for some reason. More electronics had bitten the dust. Only the ICOM M-71 radios seem to handle it out there (no we aren’t sponsored… that’s how it is). Ben came down to film and I was pretty sharp with them for not monitoring the radio. ‘Breathe it out and turn it off’ Lars… calm down, make everyone feel cool and move on. This was not the run we wanted… but it did serve to remove any nerves we might have had. VSR2 had sailed beautifully and was handling the day easily. I was confident I could sail her full noise. We were into the day now and focused on simply getting it right. We returned to the top of the course and got set up for Run 2. This one did not start so well. It was messy. The leeward float sunk and the wing extension dug into a wave. I need to fully stall the craft in order to get it to bear away from the wind. I oversheet the wing to windward to force this. Sort of like backwinding a head sail or pulling the mainsheet traveller fully to windward. In this full stalled state the boat rolls hard to leeward like a conventional craft. In strong conditions and the larger waves that accompany them… this becomes a problem. I managed to pop the leeward float up by sheeting the wing out and getting the flow attached, the trouble with this is that it rounds the boat up towards the wind as the drive vector point way aft of the main foil. I had full left lock dialled on with the small rudder in order to stop us going head to wind. This is one of VSR2’s weak points at low speed. She continued to slowly turn into the wind and I sheeted the wing back in to try and prevent it. The boat accelerated onto the plane in this state. She continued to pick up speed heading at a tight angle towards the beach. The rudder was on full lock for a bear away which meant it was fully stalled and hence fully side ventilated. I sheeted on harder to help it come away but it wasn’t happening fast enough. The beach was close and the only thing to do was to ease the wing a little and dial the rudder quickly straight to get flow attached. This had the initial effect of turning us back in towards the beach. we were probably doing around 30-35 knots. The flow attached but we were getting into shallow water. I was strangely calm about it. I sheeted in again and turned hard away down the beach. The turn was too quick and the apparent wind struggled to come around with me i.e. I did not really accelerate into the turn down wind. The wing stalled. I checked the swirling leeward tell-tales. VSR2 began to de-accelerate so I eased the wing again to attach flow. I also turned her a little more in towards the beach. She slowly got hooked in and then BAM… she was off again.

She accelerated straight up to over 61 knots but I knew it was a dud run. Only 54. something average. Everyone commented about how close in I had come at the start. On reflection it was a bit marginal but on the other hand also a sign that I was comfortable with handling the boat in tight situations.
Now I was bloody minded and set to take from this day what we had come for.
We went back up for Run 3. Ben and Alex were their usual fast and efficient selves. The three of us can basically rig and run this boat. Wally was holding the bow and ready to be an extra set of hands if we needed them.
The day felt stronger. I called Helena on the now returned comms and got another wind check. She assured me that the peak gust was still only 31 knots but that the wind was now pegged pretty solid in the middle high 20’s. She called out a long string of numbers off the TACKTICK weather station, 27, 28, 28, 28 , 29, 29 , 29, 28, 28, 27, 28 etc. This was it. The course looked great and things were perfect. I didn’t want to have to do another run.
The release from the RIB was the worst yet. VSR2 stuffed the leeward wing in hard. The whole thing was out of sight underwater. The leeward pod was well under and even the beam end was in the water. I waited for something to break.

 

THE LEEWARD SIDE OF THE BOAT IS WAY DOWN HERE AND I’M SERIOUSLY CONCERNED THAT WE HAVE BLOWN IT. WAITING FOR SOMETHING TO BREAK. IT DIDN’T.”

For more information on Paul Larsen and Sailrocket 2 click HERE

See Video of Paul smashing the record HERE

 

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60 Plus run 2 (Photo courtesy of VESTAS Sailrocket 2)

60 Plus run 2 (Photo courtesy of VESTAS Sailrocket 2)

Paul Larsen and the VESTAS Sailrocket 2 Team have pulled off the the amazing.  On Saturday in Walvis Bay, Namibia they broke their own record.

He is an excerpt from Paul’s blog in his own words and photos the team reaction.

 

Fresh off the TRIMBLE… 68.01 over 1 second, 65.45 over 500 meters.

I’ll let the pictures tell the story. The triple rum and cokes are already hitting the mark.

MALCOLM AND GEORGE WATCHING THE BEAST DO ITS STUFF.

POD HIGH AND SMOKING…60+ RUN 2

BERNT WITH HIS GOPRO PLANE. THE FOOTAGE IS AMAZING. THIS GUY HAS SKILLS. BLOODY WELL DONE IN 30 KNOTS OF WIND.

I SAVED THE BIG REVEAL UNTIL I GOT THE BOAT BACK UP TO THE TIMING HUT. WALKING BACK UP WITH THE NUMBERS AND MALC.

I WROTE THE NUMBERS BACKWARDS IN THE SAND. THIS WAS THE MOMENT.

MALCOLM AND I. WE STARTED THIS GIG 11 YEARS EARLIER.

YEAH… PRETTY HAPPY WITH THAT.

GEORGIE BOY IS PRETTY HAPPY TOO.

SELF EXPLANATORY REALLY…

 

BRINGING THE BEAST BACK HOME IN ONE PIECE.

 

We are absolutely over the moon with todays performance. I’ll leave it at that. Tomorrow is already written off. So cool, so damned cool.

THANKYOU VESTAS FOR BACKING US ALL THE WAY.

That’s it. Job done!”

 

A job very well done! Congratulations to Paul Larsen and the VESTAS Sailrocket team for once again stretching the envelope.

Vestas Sailrocket (Photo courtesy of sailrocket.com)

Vestas Sailrocket (Photo courtesy of sailrocket.com)

The UK based VESTAS SAILROCKET team have returned to Walvis Bay in Namibia for one more assault on the outright speed sailing record. The 28 day record period will commence on the 2nd of October.

Here is a run down from Paul of the first days attempts.

“And so it begins… with what looks like a rather mild day.

It’s just gone quarter past two and that makes it high tide. We spent the morning doing final tweaks and instrument calibrations. The wind has swung into the WSW but isn’t building at a great rate. My gut feel says it will get to around 17-19 knots tops.

We are all geared up anyway and will go out for a shakedown run. I’m sure we will find out more about our level of preparedness out there… than tinkering in here. Also, we have a new team member in Jeff Mearing who will get to see first hand what is expected. I warned Jeff that many a potentially great career… has been ruined on the first day;) It’s always fun bringing in new people as you wonder what they will make of the whole days activities.

I hope we do get to do a semi decent run as I’m looking forward to re-acquainting myself with the beast. The last time I sailed it… I wasn’t sure if it was going to be the last, period. But we both now have a great opportunity to try once more for the highest accolade in speed sailing, the outright record.

This will be the final record attempt for this wonderful boat. It has endured a long and eventful life to reach its current level of performance and its structure bears the scars of many a hard earned lesson. This is truly a unique and significant craft which has shown the potential of a radical concept for achieving both stability and efficiency in high speed sailing craft. The team, together with the sponsors and supporters have shared a fascinating journey but their ultimate objective, to be the outright fastest in the world, remains. The journey will only end when this objective is reached, one way or the other.

Already, since committing to this final attempt, the bar has been raised by the mighty French Hydroptere. In fact the outright record has been broken 6 or 7 times by 3 (and nearly 4) different craft since Sailrocket was first launched in 2004. VESTAS Sailrocket has already beaten the record as it was when she was launched, but now she needs to go almost exactly 4 knots faster again to achieve the new outright record of 51.38 knots*.”

Walvis Bay (Photo courtesy of www.vestassailrocket.com)

Walvis Bay (Photo courtesy of www.vestassailrocket.com)

Pilot/ project manager, Paul Larsen- Firstly, Congratulations to the Hydroptere team, we’ve got some work to do… but we wouldn’t be in this game if we didn’t like a challenge. Whilst it has been great to race the other true ‘boats’, it is the outright record we all strive for. This means that ultimately we have to beat the board riders as well. The MI (Macquarie Innovations) boys showed that they were within reach, now thanks to Hydroptere, the boat record IS the outright speed sailing record. Soon it’s going to be our shot to see if we can turn it up some more.

Nothing focuses the mind like competition. The record hasn’t fallen so many times recently by chance. Sometimes the limits are as much psychological as they are physical. When the level you need to attain gets so high that your current best isn’t enough then your options become limited and in some respect the job gets easier.  You simply have to change your sights and find another gear. In this case it is ‘all or nothing’. We will no longer focus on the mile record as the Walvis Bay course is a little too short to challenge the new benchmark. We will go down there with our eyes firmly on the outright prize. 50 knots is last year’s story… we simply have to go well over that now. I look forward to taking this wonderful boat out to do battle one more time. There’s a final chapter to be written and I’m sure she still has a few knots up her sleeve. It will be one hell of a ‘suck-it and-see’ ride on the ragged edge that’s for sure!”

VESTAS Sailrocket Designer, Malcolm Barnsley- Now, in order to achieve our ultimate aim, we need to go almost exactly 4 knots quicker. We have learnt so much since we started. Through constant development we have managed to solve most of the relatively minor issues surrounding a new concept and allowed the real potential to begin to shine through. All of the boat projects have shown that when it all comes together, there are still large performance jumps that can be made at the top end. On paper, the 500m record is definitely within reach but everything has to be just right and if we do make it I doubt it will be by a big margin.  Even in a place like Walvis Bay, which provides fantastic conditions on a regular basis, it will take a special day. Let’s hope we get those perfect conditions to make chasing down those four knots as easy as possible!

Paul Larsen on Vestas Sailrocket (Photo courtesy of Sailrocket.com)

Paul Larsen on Vestas Sailrocket (Photo courtesy of Sailrocket.com)

Another season closes on Paul Larsen and the Vestas Sailrocket team. While they didn’t close it  out with another record they gave it their best go. 
 

 

 

 

Paul Larsen (Photo Courtesy of Sailrocket.com)

Paul Larsen (Photo Courtesy of Sailrocket.com)

Here is Paul Larsen speaking about yesterday.  “We went out to speed-spot as it was our final day of this two month record period as we didn’t want to miss any opportunity. I knew the odds for setting records were against us. Strong winds weren’t forecast but we had to leave no stone unturned.There was another element. For all I know now, these might be the last runs that this boat does on this course. Now of course nothing is for certain. If the best way forward for us is to push on here with this boat then we WILL, as a team, make it happen… but that is to be decided later with all relevant parties present. For us down here at the coal-face… yesterday was a chance to just go out, give it a good bash… and enjoy the wonderful boat which we have nurtured into becoming one of the fastest sailing craft on the planet. Seeing as this month will see in the 100th birthday for Bernard Smith, the conceptual father of our wonderful boat, I was keen to post our 100th run as a sort of homage. We had done 98 runs down this gorgeous course and I was also determined not to do a ‘Bradman’. For those of you not familiar with Donald Bradman, he was a legendary Australian cricket player who was a wizard batsman throughout the Depression (the other one) and on to 1948. On his last appearance he only needed to score 4 runs to record a career average of 100 runs… nearly twice that of any rival batsman. He received a huge and extended ovation as he took the field which left him quite emotional. On only his second ball he was bowled out for a ‘duck’ (no runs). The great man left the game with a career average of 99.94 runs. Later in the change rooms as he took of his cricket pads he was left to remark ‘Gee Whiz, fancy doing that’. Even if we didn’t get good conditions I was keen to post 100 runs of our own.So as we wheeled VESTAS SAILROCKET out of her soft hangar I reflected on all the other times we had done just this, all the people that have helped us and all the dreams and aspirations that had gone with each appearance. I took note of all the modifications and repairs and what they represented. The trip across the lagoon entrance to speed-spot was pretty quiet. So speed-spot was in fine form as the wind gusted up to 20 knots. The sun was shining and a mist of sand was blowing across the beach at just the right angle. I knew it wasn’t strong enough for records but decided to have one more shot at the mile just in case we got lucky. It would give me more time to enjoy the boat as well.

Paul Larsen and Vestas Sailrocket Team (Photo courtesy of Sailrocket.com)

Paul Larsen and Vestas Sailrocket Team (Photo courtesy of Sailrocket.com)

Paul Larsen and Vestas Sailrocket Team (Photo courtesy of Sailrocket.com)

Paul Larsen and Vestas Sailrocket Team (Photo courtesy of Sailrocket.com)

 

 

 

I made an effort to explain all aspects of the run to the onboard camera throughout the run. The run went perfectly considering the mild conditions. We hit a peak of 44.65 knots, did 41.12 over the 500 meter course and only 39.12 knots over the mile. VESTAS SAILROCKET was just cruising effortlessly along seemingly enjoying the run as much as I was. I could have reached out and touched the finishing buoy if I wanted but stood off just a bit (remember Bradman Larso). It was extremely shallow and I must have been clearing the bottom by mere cm’s past thethe finish line. So that was run 99 done.

 

 

 

 

 

The VESTAS SAILROCKET team have returned to the Walvis Bay ‘Speed-spot’ in Namibia for a second attempt at the Outright World Speed Sailing Record.
The WSSRC ratified world record attempt will commence on the 20th of February and will run for 28 days. The VESTAS SAILROCKET team are hungry to finish the journey to the top of the speed sailing mountain. As it stands they need to go a little over 3.2 knots (3.7 mph or 5.95 kmh) faster over the 500 meter course than their previous best record setting performance in order to beat the Kite-surfers. The Kite-surfers set the pace last year when Alex Caizergues did a r un at 50.57 knots (93.66 kmh) in Luderitz.
The team have made a number of modifications to improve safety and prevent a re-enactment of their last high speed run where the whole 30’ craft took to the air and performed a spectacular half-loop. Everything is now in place at the team’s operation base at the Walvis Bay Yacht Club for the record attempt to commence.
Pilot/project manager Paul Larsen- “As always, it’s great to be back in Namibia. We have arrived at a very exciting stage of the project where our performance is at a level where we can enter straight into a WSSRC ratified record attempt with a relatively high probability of success. I do say that humbly. Whilst we are definitely setting our sights high, there are a number of nice boxes to tick along the way such as to beat the best of the windsurfers at 49.09 knots and become the first true 50 knot boat. Whilst that first ‘flip’ wasn’t scary at the time, it will be in the back of my mind when I go to put the hammers down next time. This speed sailing ladder is full of snakes that’s for sure. I know that if we are presented with a good opportunity to get this outright record that there will be one pretty determined and focused Australian eager to take up the challenge. As a project we are in pr etty good shape to nail this.”
VESTAS SAILROCKET Designer Malcolm Barnsley-“ Having looked at the data and run the simulation with the ‘anti lift off’ mods , we are pretty confident that the 47.3 knot run was nothing special  and significant increases in the range 1-3 knots are readily achievable. There is extra drag from the greater contact load at the front, but the additional drive available from optimum sheeting should more than compensate. 
We need to approach these higher speeds with due caution but it’s going to be fascinating to see just where we can get to!”
 The team will be updating the project daily via Paul’s ‘blog-spot’ on the www.vestassailrocket.com website. When the team are making record attempts you can follow the action live on-line as a live-feed will be run. To get updates simply subscribe to the blog-spot on the website to get the action hot of the beach. You will be notified via your e-mail when things are going to k ick-off.
Image Courtesy of Paul Larsen/ Vestas Sailrocket

Image Courtesy of Paul Larsen/ Vestas Sailrocket

There was no supernova of emotion, no tears… just huge smiles and a sense of arrival.

We did some pieces to camera and then carefully dropped the rig. Then we felt safe. It was only later when we checked the two onboard GPS systems that we saw we had actually hit sustained speeds over 50 knots peaking at 51.76 knots. We averaged 46.4 knots over 1000 meters. The mean wind speed was around 22 knots. VESTAS SAILROCKET had definitely arrived.

I reflected on the wing angle during the run and the knowledge that I could come in closer…. to flatter water. armed with this we headed straight back up the course. the wind was up a knot or so and the course was still lovely and flat. This was our dream day. We had plenty of time.

The wind was gusting to 25 on the second start indicating an average of around 22-23 knots… no more. I did an even flatter start up procedure focusing on getting the wing into 10 degrees as soon as she accelerated… and bloody hell… did she accelerate. apparently she pulled 0.35 G’s all the way up to 52 knots before the nose lifted. I expected her to step sideways as before but not this time. The nose floated higher… and then it went quiet… I was flying. i waited for some sort of touchdown… somewhere… but it didn’t come. the nose just kept going up until I was lookin vertically up at it! There was no rolling and I was just a passenger. It was still quiet… and strangely dry as we continued the loop. I sort of knew I was inverted. It all seemed to take so long. I consciously thought “righto boy, when this thing smacks down… get the hell out of it because you’re gonna be upside down”!!! I smacked down hard. Like someone big had full palm slapped my helmet with all their might. I was out of that boat in an instant. I was a bit beat up and bruised… but alright. I lay on the upturned hull and got my head together. My helmet was broken but I dragged the mic. over to let everyone know I was OK.

Read more about Paul Larsen’s record setting day at www.sailrocket.com