Carbon-fibre boat sets new speed record by sailing 110 kilometres per hour
A team of sailors has broken the world sailing speed record, reaching more than 60 knots (110 kilometres per hour) at Walvis Bay in Namibia in a custom-designed, carbon-fibre boat that skims above the water.
The Vestas Sailrocket team had to deal with one particular problem to achieve the feat - at over 50 knots small bubbles begin to form around the hydrofoil that sits underneath the boat to keep it balanced.
This effect, known as cavitation, drastically increases the drag preventing the team to sail beyond 50 knots.
But, last week, they finally solved the problem by adding small perpendicular "fences" at several positions along the hydrofoil, which seemed to solve the problem.
On the first test, the boat surpassed 60 knots for the first time, and on the third run, they broke the record with an average over 500 metres of 59.23 knots.
The previous record was set by kite surfer Rob Douglas at 55.65 knots (103.06 kilometres per hour) in October 2010.
The Vestas team hit a top speed on this run of 64.78 knots (120 kilometres per hour).
Pilot and project leader Paul Larsen noted that setting the new record was payback for ten years of hard work.
"These latest runs represent a real breakthrough in the world of sailing. It's the hydrodynamic version of going supersonic...and it feels like it," he told New Scientist.
"The acceleration just kept coming. It was like a rev limiter was removed. Things went into fast forward and my mind had to race with the decision-making process required for this new reality, i.e. can I stop the thing at the end. We have now hit over 60 knots a number of times and are just starting to explore this wonderful new world. The boat is in its element. It's truly a machine in harmony with plenty more still to offer," he added.
Next he aims to take the outright record average over 60 knots.