The French team of Alain Thebault and his crew on the giant foiling trimaran L'Hydroptère has set a new outright sailing speed record of 51.36 knots, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC).
On Friday 4 September, L'Hydroptère, sailing on a course off Hyères, became the fastest sailboat on the planet over 500 metres and one nautical mile recording average speeds of 51.36 knots and 48.72 respectively, both new World Records. These measurements were carried out with an on-board GPS but will have to be validated by the Trimble GPS and then ratified by the WSSRC.
With the wind from the west at 28 knots, Alain Thebault and his crew were able to exploit the full potential of the foiling trimaran, touching speeds up to 55.5 knots (103 kph) and an average speed of 51.36 knots over 500 meters, to enter the record books. The outright sailing speed record had stood at 50.57 knots, set by kiteboarder Alexandre Caizergues (FRA) at the Luderitz speed strip in Namibia last October.
After several unsuccessful attempts at the record at the end of 2008, the L'Hydroptère team returned to the waters of Hyeres for another attempt at the record this September and smashed existing mark on their first day. The times gradually dropped during the day and it was during the eighth and final run that L'Hydroptère reached her target speed and won the double. Along with skipper Alain Thebault, also onboard was Anders Bringdal, Jean-Mathieu Bourgeon, François Cazala, Damien Colegrave, Stéphane Dyen, Matt Hodgson, Jérémie Lagarrigue, Pierre Trémouille, Gérard Navarin and Jacques Vincent.
Reflecting on the record, Thebault paid tribute to the entire team behind L'Hydroptère, "Let us not forget that the record is primarily a technological and team adventure which would never have been possible without the support of our partners."
After this tremendous success Thebault and his team are already being dreaming of new challenges, and looking at different configurations of L'Hydroptère to make attempts at longer distance offshore records. However in the short term, L'Hydroptère remains based in La Seyne sur Mer, where Thebault and his crew will continue to operate the during the weather windows until 7 October, looking to better their new record mark.
The Record to Beat
Record: Outright World Sailing Speed Record
Equipment: Kitesurfer. Fone Prototype Speed. Fone Bandit Dos Speed 7sq m kite
Name: Alexandre Caizergues (FRA)
Dates: 4 October 2008
Start time: 15:35:00.84
Finish time: 15:35:20.06
Elapsed time: 19.22 seconds
Distance: 501 metres
Current: 0.1 knot
Average speed: 50.57 knots
Venue: Luderitz, Namibia
Previous record: 2008. Sebastien Cattelan. 50.26 knots
World Sailing Speed Record Council - www.sailspeedrecords.com