Sail Wing Rocket

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Sail Wing Rocket - pic

Sponsored by Danish wind turbine maker Vestas, the Sailrocket accelerated to 59.23 knots (68.1 mph) on Walvis Bay off the coast of Namibia.  The speed was the best average time over 500 meters (546 yards), but the craft was later clocked at 64.78 knots (74.5 mph).

The World Sailing Speed Record Council has certified a speed of 54.08 knots (62.2 mph) and is assessing faster claims.

The 40-foot, British-built craft weighs just over 600 pounds but skims along the water on hydrofoils.  It was built from carbon fiber with a core of Nomex Honeycomb, a composite material.  Titanium was also used in the construction.


Among the riders at the competition on Martha’s Vineyard last month was Rob Douglas, a brawny 41-year-old who, until recently, could claim the title of the fastest man under sail.  Two years ago, Douglas rode a five-foot fiberglass board, powered by a 96-square-foot kite, down a man-made channel in Lüderitz, Namibia, and hit a speed of 55.65 knots, or 64.04 miles per hour.

But on Nov.  16 an unorthodox craft called the Vestas Sailrocket smashed that record on Walvis Bay in Namibia, hitting an average speed of 59.23 knots, more than 68 m.p.h.  The record awaits ratification from the World Sailing Speed Record Council, but Douglas has conceded he has most likely lost his title, and he wants it back.

“I knew the news of Sailrocket was coming,” Douglas said.  “A record like mine doesn’t stick around for very long, and the fact that I had it for two years was pretty big.”