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Posts Tagged ‘paul larsen’

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We are total junkies for pretty much anything Paul Larsen does.  And when it has to do with foils, supercavitation, and ludicrous speed, we can’t look away.  So here’s a long report – with almost no sailing in it at all – that we ripped from the SailRocket site in full.  Go see Paul’s creation at the Advanced Engineering Show in Birmingham, England on the 4th and 5th of November.

Well, to be honest, that all got a much closer to really happening than we expected when we set out. In the end the real show stopper was the same old nemesis of all speed sailors… the weather. The forecast changed rapidly and the stiff SW-WSW winds we were looking for simply faded away. These winds would have enabled us to run in close to the Cause-way along the shore where the water is flat and we have places to rig, launch, lower and retrieve the boat. Alex and I went out in a RIB (Thanks Tom Peel) and surveyed the course on the expected 1.25 meter tide. I haven’t done this since we last sailed SR1 here in 2006. I was surprised to see how close I could get in and there was actually a lot more room than I was expecting. It was definitely do-able… almost comfortable.


Regardless of the fact we didn’t actually get on the water, it was an excellent excercise for all of us. Sailrocket 2 now goes away completely battle ready, serviced and dry. It showed we could sail her on short notice if need be. I am also confident we could do a 50+ knot run in Portland Harbour on a decent day.

Other aspects raised their heads such as getting the Third Party liability Insurance that would be required to operate in the Harbour. The Harbour Masters Office sounded as keen as us to see us on the water but understandably wanted boxes to be ticked, a risk assessment ot be presented and to be there on site themselves to monitor it. That’s all fair. Thankyou to everyone who piled in with help, advice and contacts regarding the Insurance. Only one company, Fastnet Marine Insurance, came up with anything solid we could have gone forward with on such short notice. Basically it was going to cost £1,000 or therabouts to do one run. It was a lot for what was going to be a “jolly” but once again, understandable considering  the request and the short notice. Thanks to some of you who offered to contribute to it all. I will continue the discussion with the Harbour Master and also with the Insurance companies so that we will be better prepared if a next time comes.

So that was the only weather window we had. Sailrocket 2 will have her now completed wing put on her one more time in front of the WPNSA on Thursday… just so all those at Weymouth Speed Week… and anyone else who passes by can have a good look. After that she gets stored away in her container in preparation for appearing as a guest at the upcoming Advanced Engineering Show at the NEC in Birmingham from 4-5th of November. We will be there on site to show her off.


Despite not sailing the Rocket yesterday, we did have a visit from one of the sport’s true heroes. Erik Beale flew in especially to see us. Erik was the first sailor to do a 40 knot run in 1988 and he is still firing his windsurfing creations down trenches today.

We have had long Skype discussions about foils and various concepts but never met in person. The thought of having him present whilst doing a run was pretty tantalizing. Nonetheless it was great to see him and share some of our ideas. In fact, there was almost too much to talk about and I hope we get another longer chance to chat at leisure. It’s always a great pleasure for me to sit and hear the stories direct from those who did it. The inside personal perspective. The little details that only they remember. It needs to be the right environment and company for it to come out. I had the chance to sit on the end of an empty bar in Walvis Bay,2007 and listen to Finian Maynard tell me of his big day. Sailrocket 1 was still sub 40’s and crashing regularly. I remember walking home (well, to the container where we were sleeping) alone in the dark, strong wind. I stopped and stood in front of the silhouette of our first creation just buzzing and wondering if I would get the chance to share such a moment with some other dreamer one day.

Erik is designing, building, testing and competing with a host of foils which are trying to use similar concepts to those which we used i.e. base ventilation. He is also dealing a lot with cavitation and the various options for cross-overs. It’s a fascinating puzzle and definitely one worth tackling. I described how good our concept was at showing the nature of the problem. The huge amount of stability the Bernard Smith concept gave us allowed us, at times, to just pour raw power at the foils to see if we could bust through the drag and get a higher number. We only ever did once. 52 knots was our nemesis with up to 7 different foils, 2 boats and all conditions. Our first wedge foil managed to hit a peak of 54 knots once (with a WIRED journalist in the back).

The point I’m making is that the drag becomes severe, the curve goes up hard. It’s a real barrier that needs different solutions. We knew we needed power and that’s why we liked the Bernard Smith concept. Whether or not the “surfers” (kite or wind) can make the foil concepts work for their applications remains to be seen. The thing is that you need to try… and be persistent. Often the solutions come from strange and unexpected places. Sometimes, it’s staring you right in the face but you’re looking straight through it only to laugh later when you realise. We don’t show many people our 65-knot foil. I showed Erik. I like the path he has chosen and the passion with which he is still tackling it. It’s inspiring. Good luck with the conditions in Luderitz, mate.


So Sailrocket and all the various Insurance companies were stood down. It was raining and the wing was left in the Hangar at the Academy. I rigged up the A-class in preparation for the lighter afternoon winds now forecast. I was desperate to go sailing on this wonderful new foiling toy. Malcolm was out sailing his latest back-yard creation and i was keen to play. There is still so much potential for this to be a great week for sailing… especially with so many amazing new dinghies coming out all making big speed claims. It’s what this week is all about. Moths, Phantoms, Nacras, A’s, Whispers, C-fly’s, kite-boards, i-flys, AC45’s… the south coast is full of them and yet they spread out almost avoiding each other. Surely this week could bring them together to line up, discuss,inspire, share and just enjoy each others company. Luca Rizzotti has done a great job with The Foiling Week so maybe he should join up with the long history of this event on these shores. The WPNSA and Portland Harbour provides a fantastic venue for all manner of craft. There’s not many places that could handle all the diversity speed-sailing has to offer.

At the end of play yesterday, there were two boats on the water, Malcolm’s and mine. We wove back and forth across Portland Harbour in the dramatic light enjoying our craft. The forecast we wanted for Sailrocket to run had truly not materialised but it was good enough for these two to play. I finally got in some good foiling runs on the A-class and just loved every second of it. I feel a lot more in control in Sailrocket at 50 knots than I do two feet high on an A-class at 18 or so knots. Yeah there’s a lot of fun still to be had way down the range.

So that’s it for now. if you want to sit in the hot-seat… then come down tomorrow. If you can’t make it then come to the NEC in Early November. If you want to sit in it… just ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get:) Now, if you do sit in it, you can know this: If this thing you are sitting in, as she sits today, was fired off down the right course in the right wind…and you sheet that little white rope in to that little mark…there’s not a sailboat in the world that will even come close. She’s good to go.

Thanks to everyone who helped. It really is appreciated. That’s why we share it.



October 16th, 2015 by admin

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IMG_9852_1920x1080The outright sailing speed record they own is in no danger of being broken, but Paul Larsen and the Sailrocket 2 folks are wheeling the orange girl out of the shed for a go anyway.  It’s not an official record attempt, but the breeze is on in Weymouth; is 70 knots in the cards?

Full details on Larsen’s blog here, and the ongoing discussion of Sailrocket continues here.


October 5th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 6.54.23 AMIf we’re talking about foilers vs. floaters and record-breaker monohulls vs. the rest of the world, we must be talking about Saint Barth, and outright World Sailing Speed Record holder and longtime SA’er Paul “Larso” Larsen checks in from the ORMA-60 inspired racer/cruiser Paradox at Les Voiles.  Most of the chatter from St. Barths can be found here.

It was an interesting day with a wide range of conditions. Big, heavy rain squalls coming over the island on the preceding night with big calmish periods afterwards.  We put the Code Zero on the boat in the morning in prep. Another big squall washed over the fleet during the start sequences for the first classes (we were last off after the big Maxis).

Loick Peyron sailed on Phaedo today, but with big wind shifts and start line corrections, her timed run didn’t really work out. They haven’t really appreciated our “high mode” off the line previously so we considered that with Loick potentially changing their gentle start strategy (and with their handicap and speed they can afford to be gentle), I was worried they might try and get under us and squeeze us out at the start. Loick helmed our first start masterfully the other day… so full respect ( he’s done some other s**t too, apparently).  Anyway, they were miles late.

We started mid line on a fairly even line and were happy with clean air and options. The chartered GB62 Elvis [world champ owner Jason Carroll is racing his Viper 640 in Charleston -ed] made a good start to leeward of us and we had the GC32 and G4 back and to windward. Phaedo tacked off once across the line and took a long beat out to sea (East) whilst we went in towards the island shore. I think we did pretty well to ride through the lulls and gusts. We sailed over the GC and the G4…which are just not that fast upwind yet. I fully respect the challenges of Mk1 development and I’m really enjoying watching this one done to this high level. It seems like it’s being sailed very well. Putting it around a course not of your choosing really highlights the reality of the compromises though. The fact is, your dragging a lot of excess up the course with you. We had full main hull-flying conditions up the shore from time to time (not so easy on Paradox i.e. 19-20 knots) which were followed by 10 knot lumpy stuff trying to lay the top of the island. We weren’t that far behind Phaedo when they hit the layline but they just tear chunks out of us when it gets lighter. They are two tons lighter with much more sail area and are only getting better and better with the tools.  Things even up a little more as it gets stronger (handicap wise at least).

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 7.06.17 AMWe had managed to also put good distance between us and the GC (which was sailing under full rig today). I think Elvis may have been ahead of the G4 on this part of the race. The next short reach had us debating whether to hoist the zero or stay with the solent and peel straight to the big gennaker at the corner. We chose the latter but hated the short period sailing undercanvassed. We chased down “Lucky” on the next downwind, but it took a while in a light spot.  The GC joined us on the leg, promptly jumping onto foils and sailing away from us faster and deeper on a long starboard gybe. We sailed against two of the quick foilers in last years RTIsland race and we know how quick they can be! We were sailing pretty clean but they gracefully sailed through. We couldn’t even see who was fourth.

On the following beat we were still in touch with the GC, past Lucky and chasing Lupa. We got to watch the G4 heading downwind. It looked like hard work in the marginal foiling conditions (i.e. sailing whatever angles it takes and trying everything to get on the foils). It wasn’t a good day for a heavy foiling boat!  We rounded the next mark still behind the GC and cracked off onto a tight reach which turned into more of a beam reach. The wind had finally returned so that we had full foil down and could sit around 20-23 knots. We caught up and passed the GC pretty quickly… but it was obvious they had some problem on port tack. They should have been smoking us, but were still lowriding.  Anyway… as they say in the classics… “stiff s**t”:)

So we pushed on, rounded the island further and went to the big gennaker/staysail combo. The GC came around the corner, gybed onto starboard and sure enough… popped onto the foils and took off again. We could see Bella Mente parked up in the distance and knew the race was far from over. There was one mark to round before the 3/4 mile or so beat up to the line. It all looked very light and random in there so we stood offshore.

The GC had overtaken us again and the big Swan Odin had somehow managed to slide down the inside gifted by it’s own personal breeze. We stayed away from the mass of boats as we sailed from one swirl of wind and velocity header to the next. Somehow we rounded the mark just ahead of most of them and then fought our way upwind finally using the 0 in anything from 5-15 knots of wind. After a long period in those super light and fickle conditions we knew the handicap was a lottery but were very happy with the way we sailed through the bunch to claim our own little victory. The GC was a wounded bird so no big conclusions can be drawn there. Phaedo is in another league and I have no idea what they experienced at the finish. Elvis sailed very well and the G4 was a long way back. The G4 really is an interesting boat… so was the Hobie/Ketterman tri-foiler. I’m glad both of them exist. So basically, there was a lot of randomness on todays course. It’s a great course and event and a very interesting collection of boats. I’m very much enjoying sailing on Paradox. She’s a great ride.



April 18th, 2015 by admin

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Longtime SA’ers will know of our love affair with Sailrocket’s Paul Larsen, and our favorite ultra-high speed sailor, offshore racer, C-Class star, and Antarctic explorer is firing up the Sailrocket team for a new and extremely ambitious new project – a truly ocean-capable, highly stable, offshore foiler.  And whether he succeeds or fails might just depend on you. Here’s an note from Paul just for you SAers:

Paul LarsenI left some space in my life after the record (and Shackleton gig) on purpose to see what would fill it. I didn’t want to go out and say “we will do this and that” just to satisfy the “what next” crowd. We had a lot of ideas and have run hot and cold on a few of them. Of course I was constantly reflecting on what had happened over the past 10-12 years with the Sailrocket project and was trying to work out in my own head what it was all about. It did humour me that people would often ask why I’m doing it or question its purpose, but if you asked the same people what’s the purpose of professional ball sports (tennis for example), most people have never considered it and therefore don’t have an answer. The truth is that they have never really thought about it; “just runnin’ with the herd, man”.

We all do it to some extent, but what I like about our little speed sailing corner of the sport is that not only do you get to compete and demonstrate sporting attributes, you also get to develop the sport technically – fiddling with the genetics to improve the breed.  Whether we can do it in a useful and meaningful way remains to be seen, but it is a big part of our motivation.

So here we were, as new custodians of this technology and know-how that just took our chosen passion – speed sailing – to a whole new level.  Something which was previously just a theory has proven itself to not only be real, but vastly superior.  Many people focused on the impractical aspects of the boat rather than what it was designed to showcase.  For us it’s more a case of one thing at a time, and now we have shown the performance potential of the concepts, the next step should be to show how it can be applied in more useful ways.

I have spent a long time going over the new concept as I am pretty sceptical of new concepts myself, but the potential of this one keeps shining through that healthy scepticism. We’re not going to release the numbers just yet, but the stuff coming out of our new concept’s VPPs are pretty special, hard to fault and demand our ongoing interest.  Trying to apply our stability concepts to a practical offshore boat has lead to some interesting configurations, and once again, we have had to confront some big issues head on in order for it to be viable; exactly our process when overcoming cavitation en route to a new record.  VSR2 was a very efficient and effective ‘tool’ for developing and proving a point, and there was no ‘fat’ on the bone with that project. She did an astounding job, with almost decimal accuracy, with a small team on a tight budget. Once the job was done she was simply hosed off and put away in her 40′ container with barely a scratch. Whilst the end speed was great, our ability to accomplish a goal in this fashion is our real advantage.  There is the potential to do some pretty big stuff offshore at the moment for a fraction of the cost of an AC team; probably more around the price of a budget VOR campaign, and if you liked what we did before then you will probably love where we are going next.

The challenge now is to see if we have the credibility and ability to muster the required level of resources. If we can, well that little one-way freak that you think only lives in the rarefied flat waters off a sandy African town may be about to land square in the middle of your own ‘pond’ and start doing its freaky thing – in all directions, on any day.  If the numbers translate into reality as well as they did with VSR2 then, change will be upon us all.

The Sailrocket story isn’t over and the road ahead beckons.  If you have some specific questions for some unique content then fire away in the thread.


July 15th, 2014 by admin

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If you watch one documentary this year, make it this one (including Part Two and Part Three), and then get into the Sailing Anarchy forums and ask the trip’s official navigator your own questions on the most excellent Sailing Anarchy thread.  You are, however, warned:  The thread has numerous spoilers, so we advise you to first watch this riveting documentary at the above links or via your own favorite video source and go to the forum with your curiosity afterwards.  Long time Anarchist and a guy who should already be called “Sir” – World Speed Record holder and inspirational envelope-pusher Paul Larsen has already answered quite a few good questions in the thread; add your own and he’ll get to those too.  Trust us – this one is worth every second of your time.


January 28th, 2014 by admin

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With ISAF predictably and  lamely passing over Paul Larsen and the Vestas Sailrocket team for the World Sailor award, Larso and his video team finally felt it safe to drop the profanity-laced ‘reality reel’ of Paul’s astonishing 65-knot record run on us today.  It’s a year to the day since they broke the record, and what many don’t realize is that Larso and his team moved the sport’s ‘absolute top speed’ further in one month that it had moved between 1991 and 2012.  Let’s repeat that, because it is worth it: The Sailrocket raised the bar from 55 knots to 65 knots in one year.  It took from 1991 to 2010 to get to 55 knots from 45.

Simply amazing, and kudos to the team for releasing this re-edited, very emotional, and very real highlight reel.  For best effect, click on HD and run it on the biggest screen you have.  Got a question for Paul or the Sailrocket team?  Congratulate him again in the thread and he’ll probably answer whatever you got.


November 25th, 2013 by admin

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Mad Men

It doesn’t matter how lazy, nepotistic, incompetent, or corrupt you think ISAF is; its World Sailor Of The Year award is still the biggest honor that can be bestowed upon a sailor for his or her performance over the course of a year.  So it’s kind of a big deal (even though you win some shitty mid-range watch as an award).  The public nominated the slate of potential awardees, but of course the only voting happens at this week’s ISAF meeting in the bastion of yachting that is Muscat, Oman.

We think it would be a miscarriage of justice if anyone besides Paul Larsen wins the men’s award this year.  To so utterly destroy the most important record in the sport (by 20%!), and then go on to sail a recreation of Shackleton’s voyage weeks later, is just incredible.  Adding to all that is Larsen’s undeniable stature as one of sailing’s best communicators and cheerleaders; he does more for the sport every time he gets in front of a news camera (and it happens a lot) than any other talking head.

Francois Gabard’s accomplishment winning the Vendee at age 29 could have landed him the award, but ISAF delegates don’t like the French; you’ll note that no French man has ever won.  Besides, he’ll get one when he breaks Francis Joyon’s solo RTW record with his new boat in a couple of years.  As for the rest of them, Heineken’s accomplishments are awesome, but in a discipline that’s in its infancy with extremely inconsistent competition.  Williams wins the WMRT in a year when much of his best competition is racing catamarans.   And Matt Belcher had some kind of good results in something called a 470, whatever that is.  Go Larso!


For the women, the choice is even easier; Deneen Demourkas dominated the Farr 30 Worlds, becoming the first 3-time World Champion in the class, beating some of the world’s top male owner/drivers and tacticians in the process.  She also brought the class back from the brink of disaster, leading it to new growth in the US as well as Southern Europe and Scandinavia.

Competing with Deneen for the award is a Omani girl whose sole accomplishment seems to be that she is female and a sailor (quite an accomplishment in arabia, but still), another course-racing kiteboarder (same family name as Johnny, same reason she shouldn’t win), and a couple of girls that got some kind of good results in something called a 470, whatever that is.

So there you have it:  The two sailors that should, without a doubt, win this year’s mid-range luxo-watch.

And all joking aside, every one of these nominated sailors wins our respect.


November 12th, 2013 by admin