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Testing continues in speed record pursuit

Published on November 6th, 2020

Created in 2019 by three engineers obsessed with kiting, sailing, and speed, SP80 has gathered over forty engineers and students from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) whose objective is to pulverize the current world sailing speed record.

The speed record is currently held by Australian Paul Larsen and his Vestas Sailrocket 2, posting an average speed of 65.45 knots on the 500m track. Setting the standard in November 2012, the 40-foot wing-powered craft represented 11 years work, with some spectacular failures along the way.

SP80 seeks to better that pace, with the ultimate goal to reach 80 knots. Since June, the young Lausanne team has been testing a reduced-scale prototype of their record seeking boat on Lake Geneva.

The launch of this prototype, with dimensions 4.5 by 3.5 meters, enables the team to validate certain concepts and start the optimization process in anticipation of the construction of the final boat which will begin in 2021.

Predominantly built in the context of student projects within the Lausanne institution, this floating laboratory was meant to be modular in every way. This approach enables the SP80 team to easily modify and test different configurations by switching hulls and appendices, which makes it a valuable learning tool in view of the record.

The prototype is towed by a motorboat in a way that replicates the forces of a kitesurf wing independently of wind conditions. Benoit Gaudiot, co-founder and pilot for the record, commands the boat himself from the motorboat with a steering wheel connected to the prototype by a hydraulic piston.

Early on-the-water testing has validated the latest simulations and demonstrate the stability and control of the boat at high speeds. Several runs on Lake Geneva are still on the agenda for the end of Fall. At the same time, the team is looking for sponsors to complete its operating budget and is focusing on the preparation of the boat’s construction planned for 2021.

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