Thursday, April 02, 2009
126 mph land yacht
Wired reports: [edited]
It's taken 10 years, but Richard Jenkins has at long last achieved his dream of setting the land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle. The British engineer climbed into the land yacht he calls the Ecotricity Greenbird and peeled off a 126.1-mph run across a California desert Thursday to take his place in the record books.
Jenkins set the record in Greenbird, a land yacht he's spent the better part of a decade developing, on Ivanpah Dry Lake — the same place Schumacher set the previous record of 116.7 mph at the wheel of the Iron Duck on March 20, 1999. Perhaps more impressive, Jenkins managed to hit 126.1 mph with winds of just 30 mph.
Instead of a conventional sail, Greenbird uses a rigid wing that produces thrust in much the same way an airplane wing produces lift. The vehicle is made entirely of carbon composite materials, and the only metal parts are the bearings for the wing and the wheels. Jenkins says the aerodynamic design and light weight lets Greenbird achieve vehicle speeds three to five times greater than the wind speed.