Faster than the wind?

An Australian defence scientist has created the design for a sail craft, based on a wing-borne hydrofoil concept, which he believes will break the world sailing speed record.

Stephen Bourn, a mathematical scientist with the Adelaide-based Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), says his design will allow the craft to travel at more than twice the speed of the wind in which it is sailing!

He also believes the design has potential applications for defence, including wings for lightweight unmanned aircraft and high-speed hydrofoils for naval boats.

The theory has been proven on a series of radio-controlled models. The craft incorporates a wing-like sail, submerged hydrofoils and a cockpit for one ‘pilot’.

“With sufficient wind and speed the hull will lift completely clear of the water surface, the craft will fly, leaving only the submerged hydrofoil struts cutting the surface,” Bourn said.

“The air-borne hull means much lower drag,” he said. “The relative positioning of the wing, hull and hydrofoil is inherently stable and there is no risk of capsize as sail force increases, unlike conventional craft. This allows a much higher power-to-weight ratio, and combined with lower drag, the result is much higher maximum speed.”

Bourn believes the new design has the potential to shatter the full range of performance expectations set by conventional yachts, skiffs, catamarans, sailboards and kites, and to challenge the outright speed record.

To see a video of the new craft in action, click <link>here=http://www.dsto.defence.gov.au/corporate/publicity/media/hydro.mpg</link>.