So here we sit in the container downloading data after a monumental day. We went for it today in winds averaging around 18 knots. Plenty of spectators and all cameras rolling. Everything was working. Everything was in place. I could feel the extra load on the knot as I slipped from the restraining anchor. Once into the wind Sailrocket lifted out and the next moments were perhaps the scariest I’ve ever had.
Once again she headed for the beach like a horse to the barn. I knew from our first run that rounding up wasn’t an option so I sheeted on hard and stomped on the rudder to bear away. And I mean stomped. I tried to put it through the bloody bulkhead! I was heading for the beach doing over 30 knots. Something had thumped in the rudder setup and I feared a breakage... somewhere. Everything still felt tight at my end. It was already shallow and I felt that the big crash had already begun. I new that the only way out was left and if I couldn’t get there I would have to go down trying.
We weren’t running straight into the beach but we were closing on fast in a boat that I had full lock on just to hold it in a straight line. To her credit she did come around. As soon as I got her straight I gave a quick little ease of pressure on the left C-tech rudder pedal to see if I didn’t have it stalled. Sailrocket then headed for the barn again. There’s a lot of spray. I kick myself for nearly parking it in the first instance and then teasing it all again. We are now doing around 37 knots and slowly the bow bears away again. I’m pulling on so much sheet to try and slow this ride down.I have now passed the timing hut at full lock, oversheeted and with the wreckage of the aft planing surface dragging underneath... at 38.3 knots. Over the dodgy ICOM radios I’m yelling ’No steerage, no steerage’!
I sheet it past center and the wing stalls hard.
We drop off the plane and the ride is over.
Personally I was amazed we had survived as at one stage I felt like merely a passenger in a fast crash. I had done all I could do and I just had to hang on and see what was about to unfold.
I saw we had hit 38.3 knots and was happy to have gone so much faster than before but also disappointed we hadn’t hit 40.
It wasn’t to be a champagne run.
Obviously the run had shown us that we still have a lot to learn about sailing this type of craft at high speeds. I have no doubt at all that we have the makings of a world record breaker.
But first, control... and then speed.
As mentioned, all of the data recorders were working as were all cameras on board and shore, video and stills.
We are sitting in the container now going through all this info and footage. I am on my third beer and thankful that our incredible boat still sits beside us in mostly one piece. We came close today.
The ride was a complete blast. It scared the hell out of me... like all ultimate rides should.
And we still have 10 knots to go.
Will we survive the development phase?
I’m not asking this for any showmanship purposes, I’m genuinely asking myself this question!
All the data will go back to Malcolm and Chris for their opinions.
Brad is beside me going through all the footage. It’s excellent. We are all delighted that everything works as it shows what we have been doing when not on the water. Now we can start delivering some quality stuff back to all. This rides so good it has to be shared!
Having just seen the footage and Helenas GPS tracks it appears as if the disintegrating rear planing surface kicked Sailrocket to windward and into the beach at a rate that was barely recoverable. I had sheeted in hard to bear away and remained that way. It looks as if the boat was ’crabbing’ sideways quite a lot at times.
I wonder if being oversheeted can help at the start of a bear away but be a big hindrance at a certain angle. On a normal boat you can’t just bear away with the sail oversheeted, you have to ease. That is all pretty basic stuff of course, but then this boat doesn’t always behave like a normal boat... maybe sometimes it does. It’s still only wind and water.