L'Hydroptère sailboat flying high

Speeding sailboat closing in on world record

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi

Sail-World just called attention to the fact that l' Hydroptère is on the brink of breaking the record for the world's fastest sailboat.

L'Hydroptère reached 47.2 knots on January 25, according to the log on its Web site. The absolute sailing speed record for 500 meters is 48.7 knots. L'Hydroptère also achieved an acceleration of 14 knots in 6 seconds.

Céline Levy/Hydroptere.com

The boat has been in development for several years on the principle that a sailboat's hull should not float on the water, but fly above it supported by "sea wings" or a new type of hydrofoil. Alain Thébault, whose bio infers he is both a Ulysses and Icarus descendant in spirit, made a third-scale model of his idea for the boat in the 1980s. The first full-size prototype was launched in 1994 and the team has been making adjustments every since.

Thébault's team wants to beat both the 500 meter and nautical mile challenge records. In light of the boat's recent success, the team has increased its training sessions over the last few days.

One man's lifelong dream may only be a few days and knots away from realization.