Sailrocket hits 60 mph on water with just sails, no rockets

Sixty miles an hour may be an easy speed to reach in a car, but if you're in a boat, sixty is damn fast, even if you have a very powerful motor pushing you along. Sailrocket can hit sixty no problem, and it doesn't have any motor at all, just a sail and the wind.

The Vestas Sailrocket Mk.II (VSR2) looks the way it does because it's been carefully designed to go very, very fast in one direction and do nothing else. The fuselage, for example, is angled 20 degrees away from the sail (or "wing," as it's called) so that at full speed the boat is pointing as directly into the wind as possible to minimize drag. The only parts of the boat that actually touch the water are a couple very carefully designed fins, and theoretically, this thing should be able to top 65 mph in ideal conditions, and it's currently off the coast of Namibia trying to break the world speed record for sailboats.

It's sort of amazing that this sailboat (or any sailboat, for that matter) is capable of moving so much faster than the wind blows. But by moving diagonally or perpendicular to the wind (rather than sailing with the wind behind you), there's constant pressure on your sail no matter how fast you're going, and your speed through the water ends up not being limited by the amount of thrust that you're getting from the sail. Instead, you have to deal with things like stability, and the VSR2 uses some innovative structural designs adapted from high-speed power boats to keep high speed controllability with low drag. And speaking of low drag, this entire boat has an aerodynamic drag cross-section approximately equivalent to a beach ball.

Watch VSR2 performing some test runs in the video below, and just keep on reminding yourself that it's not powered by a jet engine, just the wind.

Sailrocket, via Gizmag

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