WORLD SAILING SPEED RECORDCHASING TOP SPEED
SP80 is a team of highly skilled EPFL engineers and students who are combining sailing, kiteboarding and engineering with the bold purpose of outperforming the current world sailing speed record. The Team is currently building a trimaran boat, able to reach 80 knots (150 km/h) with the wind as its sole source of power. SP80 envisions unique solutions and daring concepts that have great potential in the sailing world. But their approach goes beyond just breaking a record. They eventually hope to demonstrate the application of a new set of technologies and tools in fast marine transport, offshore sailing and energy production, which can lead to quite a revolution in the industry.
The current world sailing record still belongs to Paul Larsen, who reached 65,45 knots in 2012 with his Vestas Sailrocket. This achievement had been the result of 11 years of testing and iterating, demonstrating the perseverance and dedication of the Sailrocket team. In order to beat the current record and achieve their goal, the SP80 team was well aware that a lot of power was required. That power couldn’t be reached by a traditional sail, as it wouldn’t handle the load. Which is when the idea of a kite already able to reach more than 57 knots rose. That way, the boat would be able to support all of the forces induced by the kite and reach phenomenal speeds. They found the perfect balance between the kite pulling up and the foil pulling down, keeping the boat flat on water.
Gin enters the gamethe kite's role
Joining the SP80 Team on their quest was a no-brainer for us. We have been given the duty to design a custom kite, a crucial element for breaking the world record. As a matter of fact, the kite will capture the power of the wind, which will transform it into propulsive force for the boat. The kite is the boat’s engine.
For now more than 80 days, Gin Kiteboarding has worked with SP80 to understand the physics behind that innovative challenge. Several kites with a surface area spanning from 20 to 50m2 are currently under development. To ensure optimal performances, the kite’s size must be adaptable according to wind conditions. A steering wheel will be integrated into the boat’s cockpit. A pilot will then be able to control the kite by only using the steering wheel!
But those kites will be very different from the traditional ones. Those ones will be specifically tailored to the boat. Besides, the considerable loads they will have to bear at 80 knots (150 km/h) require fabrics, bridles and lines developed specifically for the record. All of these elements put together require significant research and development work from our kitefoil engineer Hans Bollinger. His remarkable know-how and great experience in the kite and paragliding world allow him to take on this challenge with passion and devotion.
Gin Kiteboarding’s high-performance kite coupled with a high-tech boat can only provide enough force and power lift to reach 80 knots (150 km/h) and break the world record!
“The kite is as important as our boat to smash that record, which is why Gin Kiteboarding's support in our custom kite development is crucial. Working hand-in-hand with a Team that has the tools, the technology and above all the desire to push back the boundaries in the sailing world allows us to peacefully consider our first sailings in 2023 with a high-performance kite.”Mayeul van den Broek - SP80 co-founder
CONVERSATION WITHGaël Landin
CEO of Gin Kiteboarding
How did the project get started?
After seeing an advertisement about SP80’s record ambition, an idea started to grow. I absolutely knew that with our experience in the market of high-performance kite, we could bring that sail to the very top. A swiss project of significant scope and ambition was enough to attract us.
What was your feeling at the beginning of this collaboration?
We were all very excited. During our first meeting, the 3 project’s founder have been able to convey their great passions and energy. As a kite brand, it was a welcome opportunity to take a step back from the daily grind. We didn’t want to make another general public kite. At our level, we are looking for challenges and excellence. This is what drives us.
The SP80 team is extremely professional, and their ambitions fully align with the Swiss DNA. Overall, a team of kite enthusiasts who want to use our kites for fun, as well as to break the world speed record. Their foil structure is so scientifically based that it is more than just an idea but a truly remarkable team effort. The sails are undergoing empirical development, and we are trying to find the best solution for them.
What is Gin’s ambition with this project?
We aim to smash that world record hand in hand with SP80. That project will also make our legitimacy grow. We are a relatively young brand in the world of racing and performance, but we have big ambitions and we are determined to demonstrate it.
“I would never step a foot on that boat, even in my wildest dreams. However, I'm sure that on the day of the record, I will experience the same emotions and thrills as the two pilots and the team.”Gaël Landin - Gin Kiteboarding CEO
© Photo credits: Guillaume Fischer