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Sailrocket 2 breaks sailing speed record at 68 mph

Skimming along a bay in Africa, this sleek carbon-fiber craft seems to barely touch the water.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
The missile-shaped Sailrocket 2 broke the Outright World Speed Sailing Record on Walvis Bay. Vestas

If you think wind power will never get you anywhere, take a ride on the Sailrocket 2, a specially engineered sailboat that has set a new sailing speed record.

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.

It employs an unusual design in that the sail wing is separated from the hull by a long beam, which maximizes stability and accelerates the craft in gusts.

The asymmetrical wing is inclined at 30 degrees and helps lift the Sailrocket out of the water as it speeds along.

Meanwhile, special structures on the hydrofoils apparently reduce cavitation, an effect that generates drag-inducing bubbles at speeds over 50 knots.

Check out the Sailrocket flying across the water in the vid below.

"This is the culmination of many years of hard work from so many people," pilot Paul Larsen said in a release.

"Based on the experience from the previous version of the Sailrocket boat, we have used everything we learnt into designing the perfect speed sailing boat. By sailing at 2.5 times the speed of the wind, we have really done something amazing."