Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Vestas SailRocket 2 speed record boat launched

SailRocket 2
Image caption SailRocket 2 was officially launched at East Cowes

A pioneering sailing boat has been launched on the Isle of Wight ahead of a world speed record attempt.

The 40ft (12.2m) SailRocket 2 was built over 15 months at the Vestas Technology research plant on the island.

Pilot and project leader Paul Larsen said it "pushed a new frontier" with an unconventional structure designed to reach speeds of up to 60 knots.

The boat is being transported to Walvis Bay in Namibia, where sailing record attempts will begin in April.

The project team described the design as more akin to the development of jet engines to break the sound barrier than conventional yachting technology.

Image caption Paul Larsen has been pursuing the Outright World Speed Sailing Record for nine years

The sail and keel elements are positioned so there is virtually none of the overturning moment and net vertical lift which yachts experience.

A hard "sail", rather than one made from fabric, is designed to harness the power of the wind to reach higher speeds.

The team has been pursuing the Outright World Speed Sailing Record for nine years, with a previous craft, SailRocket 1.

The attempts are observed by the World Speed Sailing Record Council (WSSRC) and are open to all water-borne sailing crafts from kite surfers to giant racing yachts.

'Very nervous'

SailRocket 1 still currently holds the B class world record for speed sailing, but the record for all water craft has proved more illusive.

Mr Larsen said: "Vestas SailRocket 2 is a boat that aims high. The only satisfactory outcome for us is the outright record."

However he admitted to some trepidation when the boat has its first proper first "takeoff" on water.

"I'll be very nervous at first, even in light winds," he said.

SailRocket 2 is sponsored by wind turbine makers, Vestas, as part of its development of wind energy technology.

The company was at the centre of controversy in 2009 when a sit-in protest by employees followed the announcement of the closure of its wind turbine blade factory in Newport, Isle of Wight.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites