rocket man Outright speed-sailing record-challenger Paul Larson, of VESTA’S SailRocket 2 has been blogging daily from Namibia. Lia Ditton gives us a roundup of team VSR2’s week one in Walvis Bay. Photos courtesy of Helena Davelid /Sailrocket.

rocket man

Outright speed-sailing record-challenger Paul Larson, of VESTA’S SailRocket 2 has been blogging daily from Namibia. Lia Ditton gives us a roundup of team VSR2’s week one in Walvis Bay. Photos courtesy of Helena Davelid /Sailrocket.

The ‘Amber Lagoon’ container ship finally made it into Walvis Bay last Friday with our precious cargo onboard! Seeing the truck come around the corner with the new boat is a cool thing… and opening the container doors and seeing nothing broken is a very, very cool thing!

This new boat should be the solution to all our previous problems. That’s the vision… the dream… yet just less than a kilometre away is speed-spot: a perfect example of cold, hard, emotionless reality. I tell myself that this is all just a question of physics but it is hard to separate the emotion that is a part of, almost a requirement of such an effort. To deny the emotion would be to deny being human, so at times like this I embrace it. Later on when we get right down to business it will be controlled and the emphasis will go back to physics.

It’s such a luxury for us to have a good solid team around us who are all as keen as we are to see this thing work. Ben Quemener has been part of the build of this boat from the very beginning. Namibian – Hiskia Sindimba has been with us from our first run with VSR1 and every run thereafter. Eighteen months ago, he helped us with the scale model tests for the new boat and then we brought him to England to see the build.

This is Jeff’s second time down here and he helped us on our last record attempt when we pushed VSR1 to the limits. For Jonny Malbon this is his first time in Namibia. We have been neighbours throughout the build and it will be fun to welcome him into a side of sailing that he has never experienced before.

Excerpts from Paul’s blog –
“Monday 18th April: we are now 3.5 days in, since the container doors were opened and VESTAS Sailrocket 2 was released into the Walvis Bay speed-sailing wilderness. She goes from being a pampered pet living indoors to being a beast of burden that lives outdoors!

We have spent that time getting all the basic facilities organised and finishing off the trolleys to make actually getting from the container to the water a safe and reliable process. The new boat is bigger and heavier… and so is more cumbersome. With the beam and the rig now at the back of the boat, the whole rig raising process will need to be changed.

The plan is to get all the platform systems (without the wing) functioning so that we can do some basic launching and tow tests behind the RIB. With the tow tests we can get an idea of the ‘hump drag’ of the basic platform i.e. how much force it takes simply to get the boat up and planing on its floats. It will also be interesting to see how the much response we get from the small front rudder at under 25 knot speeds.

Once we are happy with all the platform trials we will put the wing on the boat and start doing some static tests outdoors, in order to familiarize the team with their roles in the procedures.

Once we are happy that we can basically handle the rig in a secure manner, either upright or lying down, we will tow her across to ‘speed-spot’ and begin doing some trials in some breeze. We need to make sure that the new wing is balanced. We need to see how well she ‘feathers’ i.e. how well she de-powers when we release the mainsheet.

If all goes well… then I reckon it will be time to go sailing. (And you have no idea how nice it is to even to begin to be talking about this.) The wind has been blowing in a manner that would suit our current agenda i.e. not too much… but enough.

Wednesday 20th April:
We wheeled the boat out from the tent and began to get the feel of the new trolleys and general ground handling. This included wheeling it down to the launch ramp. Everything went surprisingly well and I’m confident that we can do it safely with the wing on, in a fair bit of wind. It was so close to the water that it was tempting just to push it all the way in…

First we must finish off all the little details to protect the boat from the ensuing onslaught of corrosion.

It virtually rained all night… and is still raining now, midday the following day. This is very unusual for a place that can go a year without i.e. there are no drains in the main street so the water just pools everywhere.

A couple of days ago, I launched the new RIB and went across to speed-spot. It felt like I was there last week. I went and checked out the timing hut, which is our office/home/shelter/HQ when we are on speed-sailing action stations. It is our only sanctuary in that harsh environment. It was in a very sorry state and will be a good half days work for the whole team just to ‘re-float’ it above the sands. We are pretty much its only custodians. The only footprints inside it were those of wandering jackals.

A big thank you must go to both Peters and May (especially Sarah) for… well, for just doing the job they say they can do. It is appreciated. Also to Eddie from Transworld here in Namibia who also just made s**t happen the minute the ship hit the port. To make this all happen so smoothly takes ‘do’ers’.