Fastest Sailboat on the Planet!

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Doug Lord, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest


    Antoine, thanks for your excellent and informative post! I'm looking forward to more spectacular things from these guys and I wish them the best of luck. Their perserverence and dedication in the face of many problems is extraordinary. Their performance and closeness to the record must be a bit of a surprise to others going for the magic 50...
    Have you had a chance to go onboard the boat? The radar for finding objects in the water is great-didn't know they had that and I'm convinced that accurate ,reliable equipment like that -including sub surface sonar as well- will be necessary to make ocean multifoiling(or monofoiling) practical-which it sure will be sooner than later.
    Surface piercing foils can have advantages but it will be very interesting to see what a bi-foiler-multi or mono-the same size with fully submerged foils(variable shape /area?) could do.
    Lots of room for development still left!
    Antoine, do you know any details of their ballast system?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2007
  2. kach22i
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    kach22i Architect

    Will this sailboat ever do 50 knots according to the rules?
  3. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    as I said: it's too early to tell whether Hydroptère can do 50 over 500m. All we have for now is about 43 on 500m on a day when they did 46.5 top speed, and with the boat having been sailing in its new incarnation for less than 1 month.

    as I said also, the sponsors want to be prudent and get some bang for their buck, so it's very unlikely the team are going to push too hard, too soon. So far they've not gone out in more than 25ish knots of wind, and they've been prudent on how much sail they carried. They're testing sail configurations, and refining high speed stability - which seems like a smart thing to do.

    If we assume that more recently they were closing in on 45 knots over 500m, then reaching 50 average probably requires nearly 25% more power. All else being equal this would require 30-plus knots of wind speed (7 Beaufort). They're probably going to try this eventually - but not too early.

    As I said, the whole philosophy of the project is to have an ocean-going boat able to sustain 35 knots (or more) for days conditions allowing. Which would be a quantum jump (30% more) from what current racing 60ft multihulls achieve. IF these guys see that 50 on 500m is doable they'll certainly make a few attempts - but if they see that it would risk breaking the boat they may decide to save it for oceanic records, which are what really matters to them.

    We'll probably start getting a feel from future press releases about higher max speeds reached, and how frequently these come. For not they're on the pace of gaining 1.8kn of speed per month. If next month they've gained another 1.8kn in top speed, to 49, then I think it'll suggest they're serious about the 500m record. If on the other hand they've gained a few tenths only, I think it'll look much less likely.

    Personally I'd find it much more cool if they did 840nm in 24 hours on the ocean. Only then could they, if they chose, try to fit a wing to the thing, and possibly go a good deal faster.
  4. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    don't know about the Namibia record for the mile at over 41 knots. This has happened in October, was accompanied with the comment "subject to ratification by the wssrc" and now in January i.e. nearly 3 months later the WSSRC site still lists Finian w just under 40 knots as the record holder. So did anyone beat Finian by wssrc rules? Or was there a problem in the measuring equipment, or was there current, or what?
  5. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    Doug, on the ballasts on the Hydroptère:
    - you've got one on each of the side "pods", capacity 800 litres i.e. 800 kilos (1760 pounds). The water gets pumped via a pipe in the rudder. Boat displacement is about 5'000 kilos so that's a sizeable ballast
    - you've also got a smaller ballast (don't know its capacity) in the main hull, to help control fore-aft balance. Apparently maily because the boat has a tendency to lift its nose up too much (I'd have thought the opposite was the case, but that's what they say)
  6. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    more hints on what Hydroptère's potential might be

    first apologies for posting a bit too much - early enthusiasm i guess

    anyway, French national TV went to visit the Hydroptère base and went to sail on it on a windy grey day (yes I'm jealous).

    what I found the most interesting, apart from the images, were the interviews of the team members. When asked what he'd like most, one of them said "have a chance to push the boat to see what she's really capable of".

    this was recorded AFTER the Hydroptère had claimed to have reached a top speed (instantaneous, not over 500m) of 47.2 knots.

    which does suggest, I repeat, suggest only, that the boat may indeed be capable of higher speeds.

    How much higher, and whether they can be sustained over at least 500m, remains to be seen of course.
  7. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    52.9 knots on a kiteboard

    Well, well... It looks like German kiteboarder, Tilmann Heinig, has blown down the speed course in Westerhaver on the North Sea at a top speed on his GPS of 52.9 knots.

    You can refuse to identify kiteboards as boats, or not recognize that this is not an official record if you want for any of a variety of arbitrary or substantive reasons, but you can't deny this is flat-out, hauling *** on the water being propelled soley by the wind.

    Read it for yourselves here:,id,5797,nodeid,30.html

    Just like any craft, this effort needs the right conditions with the right dude present to make the run. There's still a compelling argument that the conditions and the timing system were not of an official standard. That having been said, this is not the first time that a kiteboarder has blown-off the 50 knot barrier, long before the million dollar efforts have come within spitting distance.

    Hydroptere... you have a serious challenger. A solo guy with an under $5000 rig and the will to haul ***.

    It's only a matter of time...

    Kiteboards for the next Olympics in three events

    Attached Files:

  8. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    good point on kites

    I think it's great that people try to go fast on all sort of crafts - it would be too bad if one had a pre-defined category, wouldn't it?

    and it seems pretty clear that anything with a kite should ultimately be able to go faster - you can carry more sail, you don't have the righting momentum issues, and it's lighter, too.

    by the way it also seems pretty clear to me that kites have a huge future and not just for high-speed fun (some cargo ships have started experimenting to limit fuel consumption).

    as for top speed, clearly all numbers "from my GPS" should be taken with caution. I have a Garmin that I use when biking, and where I had reference distance and time I found it to be easily a couple mph off on a top speed. Same while running (or else I'm world class w/o knowing it). But still it's clear that some of these guys are going fast.

    personally I have no camp: anyone who goes over 50 as per wssrc is good. And clearly anyone who, say, would dare to go out w a kite in a, say, 40 knot wind, should be able to get to 50 or why not 60 after all. Whereas any larger structure would probably blow up under similar circumstances.

    as for Hydroptère, as I've said before I think it's pretty clear these guys' aim is not the world speed record - even if they'be happy to beat it of course.
    Their main aim is to go fast, in the ocean, and beat the 24 hour record (which seems way within reach now), and then hopefully establish new best times on some crossings. And clearly they're not going to risk damaging the boat going out in, say, 35 knots of wind, just to go for a 500m record.

    as a final note, I think that once kites for larger crafts are more evolved, a Hydroptère with a kite would obviously be able of much faster speeds, than the existing version.
  9. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    more on the kite...

    Chris sorry, you provided the link and I speak German but only went to check afterwards, sorry...

    Anyway, the article says that Tilmann Heinig:
    - went out in 46 knots of wind (that's 9 Beaufort). The guy must have huge balls, pardon my French
    - reached 52.9 knots max speed (instant)
    - achieved 49.7 knots over 250 meters
    - achieved 46.2 knots on 500 meters and as such was quite a bit short of Finian's record. There's no data on Finian's top speed but clearly given how high his 500m mark is, there must have been moments during is 20s run when his speed was over 50 knots.

    Tilmann further added:
    - at full speed he thought it was easy, he had such light traction on the kite (I'm just quoting)
    - he thinks he could have handled up to 10 to 15 knots more wind (that would be 11 Beaufort though)
    - he now "knew he was the fastest" and did not feel the need to try again soon (maybe he got a bit scared after all ;-)
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  10. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member


    Yes, Antoine, agree on all your points with but one caveat.

    I'm not a dedicated foil guy for various reasons, though I do like to see them work in their fashion. Won't there be serious issues with surface piercing foils once they get going too much faster than we presently see?

    It would seem to me that if there weren't actual limits on the potential, that we'd be seeing these devices on all of the ultimate speed record attempts both now and in the past.

    I would have to say that my position is more about the amount of serious results for the amount of money needed to mount the podium in a speed run setting. With the race on in boating, like most other things, to create more and more complex products, it's exciting to see an ultra simple device move right to the top of the list.

  11. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    I agree on the budget point ;-)

    Why have we not seen foils sooner in history? Well we have at times. But why didn't they stay? My take is that it's only quite recently that mankind has achieved (1) sufficient computing power to properly model flows even in hypercavitation and the like, (2) materials strong enough to withstand the efforts yet be light enough, (3) construction techniques able to make foils out of these materials.

    After all the foiling Moths are quite recent (and once you exclude the initial R&D costs that were necessary to get there, they are pretty cheap).

    Before that we had foils on power boats, where weight and top efficiency were not real issues.

    I think that like all new technologies, foils are costing a lot to develop and master (think about the early days of airplanes). But once the technology is mastered I bet that one will be able to build a foiling ORMA 60 multihull for the same money that is required today.

    similarly a kitesurf today is cheap, but if you had only one test surf, and if you added up all the development cost on kites (probably starting w paragliders) necessary to get to modern kites, the financial bit would also look not so great.

    still, of course I find it great that people using $5k (or even 10 or 20k) of equipment, should be able to reach high speeds.

    I admire them. And I also admire the engineers behind Hydroptère, and will admire them even more the day they achieve 800-plus nm over 24 hours.
  12. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    thinking about this again (potential for foils, and why not sooner / more broadly).

    I've looked a bit more at and it's pretty clear that mostly only commercial / ferry / passenger / military boats use foils in anything like significant numbers. Some of these reach 60 knots (such as the ferry that does Russia / Finland) which suggests that you can at least get there before running into any kind of trouble, plus of course they must have a pretty large margin of safety given that this is a passenger boat.

    as I said before, I think the issue for sailboats is that you want to be able to control the trim surfaces to adapt to how much power you have, and to be very light because of the limited power. Back in the 20's already some guys could try ladder foils w powerboats. Some people also tried (metal, non-adjustable) foils on sail boats but clearly because of the weight and the inability to adjust the foils, top speeds were fairly limited and stayed below 30 knots.

    also, I think that there is the issue of practical, everyday life. A boat with foils is just much less practical in many circumstances:
    - think about the hassle it is to get a foiler Moth started, compared to a non-foiler model
    - think about a normal power boat with foils, the risk of catching something / getting stranded will be much higher
    - it's a bit like recumbent bikes: they go faster and with less effort. But they're impractical if you need to stop / start often, they expose more of the body to rain, visibility in traffic is nearly nil. So although they were invented a long time ago, they are still only a marginal part of the market. BUT they do hold all the speed records! ;-)
  13. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    design choices

    Hassle to get a foiler Moth started? Some foiler Moths require that you wade out far enough to insert the foils from the bottom and I agree thats a hassle. The hull is so narrow that many people report great difficulty in keeping the boat upright long enough to get foiling; thats a hassle as well. But it is not necessary under the rules and it is most certainly NOT something intrinsic to a bi-foil monofoiler-it is a choice made by the designer builder of the Moth. It is legal in the Moth class to have retractable foils; it is also legal to have some degree of buoyancy pod but so far most designer/builders don't use either. Ease of learning to sail/foil the boat has not been a priority. However, the designer of the M4 bi-foil monofoiler does use both and reports that it is MUCH easier for beginers to get started. On his boat the foils retract vertically and because of the buoyancy pods it's easy to sail off a beach
    to reach deeper water instead of having to wade out. And easier for a beginer to get started foiling.
    The M4 concept
    Address: Changed:4:26 PM on Saturday, February 3, 2007
    Dr.Bradfield used retractable foils on the Rave multifoiler-in fact that boat has two sailing positions for the foils and is easily beach sailed.
    For small foilers stuff getting on the foils is a minor nuisance every once in a while not a major problem at all according to those with lots of foiling experience.
    For ocean going boats it appears that Hydroptere is again pioneering the way by using radar/sonar to pick up objects floating at or just below the surface. This kind of system on ocean going foilers is going to be critical to their success.
  14. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    more on Hydroptère potential

    they've just posted various interviews (crew members, on-board engineer from Dassault Aviation) on their web site at

    I've watched most of them, and since they're in French here are my main takes for the benefit of anyone interested:
    - crew members say that the boat "can certainly do a good deal more" (speed), but that to do it, they'd need 30-plus knots wind, and not too choppy a sea (they've done the 47.2 knots max instant speed in a sea w 2-3.5 meter waves)
    - engineers says: (1) boat gets much more quickly to higher speeds, (2) is much more stable at speed, so much so that based on boat stability and behaviour he feels that this version's 45 knots feels like the previous version's 35 knots; (3) he attributes this better behaviour to the new sails and mast, but also to a more seasoned crew; (4) he actually said he believed "much more than 50" was possible, as "you could feel the boat had a lot more under the foot"

    maybe all these guys are a bit too happy right now. But even adjusting for this it seems pretty clear that we should continue to watch this space.

    also from watching the videos it seems pretty clear, from crew behaviour (walking around checking things, looking at the view) and image stability, that indeed at 42-43 knots the boat seems almost as "easy" as, say, a WOR 60 doing 22 knots.

    of course, we all agree, what matters is not instant speed but whether, if they go for it (which I'm not sure they will given that their priority is ocean sailing and long-distance records), they can beat records in WSSRC conditions i.e. average speed over 500 meters.

    I recommend watching the videos, and even the crew interviews, for the background of the boat flying over the ocean. Truly impressive stuff.

  15. antoineb
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    antoineb Junior Member

    Hydroptère: speed base to be installed and certified soon

    According to what I hear, wssrc experts are near la Trinite-sur-Mer, France, working at establishing a certified speed base there, in the Bay of Quiberon.

    This will finally allow for some official speed recording. For Hydroptère, but also, probably, for any other craft / windsurf that would want to give it a try.

    Recently saw another interview of project leader Thebault - he admitted that yes, now the boat felt very stable and very solid (that's what you get w prototypes, they can take long to develop, I mean even new car models, which don't reinvent anything, take about 5 years to develop), and yes, he admitted that he was starting to think that the boat could possibly do 50 knots over 500 meters.

    And it was weird to watch, because he seemed to be admitting all this a bit relunctantly, as if surprised himself that things should finally be looking that good (or maybe he was just being superstitious).

    If the wssrc guys work diligently, and if they get good conditions of calm seas and 30 knots winds, we could have first data points as early as March maybe?
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