The Sailrocket 2 isn’t designed for a casual afternoon on the lake. It’s engineered to set a new sailing speed record, and it’s in Namibia right now trying to do just that.
Despite the name, the Vestas Sailrocket 2 doesn’t use any combustible propellants to skim across the water. It’s only power source is the wind, captured by a highly engineered sail that its designers hope will help it set a new world speed sailing record. The previous record stands at 55.65 knots, or about 64 mph, and was set by a kite surfer in the waters off Namibia which are known for their high winds through the months of September to December. So that’s where the Sailrocket 2 is currently making its attempts to snatch the title.
One of the problems facing sailboats as they approach 60 knots is that the water passing over their foils turns to vapor, in a phenomenon known as cavitation. Not only does this create drag in the water, but it can also lead to instabilities and crashes. So the Sailrocket 2 is not only designed to remain stable should cavitation become an issue, but it’s also got a secret weapon—specially designed foils that can be deployed that are immune to this problem. They should allow the craft to literally sail past the 60 knot mark, which has been compared to breaking the sound barrier for wind powered watercraft, minus the sonic boom.