Monday, November 21, 2011

Breaking the yachting sound barrier

New Scientist reports: [edited]

Along a stretch of Namibia's wind-blasted Atlantic coastline, one man is about to try to sail faster than any sailor has ever done before. This attempt to set a world record requires technical expertise, courage and luck. It will take place in the Vestas Sailrocket 2, which barely even looks like a boat and is, astonishingly, based on a design that is 40 years old.

For the past few months, the team has been making trial runs. If their innovative design hits 60 knots (111 kilometres per hour), it will change the future of speed sailing.

"Going from 50 to 60 knots is like breaking the sound barrier," says the boat's pilot Paul Larsen.

But it won't be easy. In 2008, the first version of the boat flipped out of the water in a spectacular accident just as it was approaching record-breaking speeds.

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