Most of the boats achieving technical wonders these days have motors at their heart, even if they're completely fuel-free. Not so Vestas' Sailrocket 2, which just recently broke the 500-meter sailing speed record. A run across Namibia's Walvis Bay, just longer than the nautical mile the team wanted, saw pilot Paul Larsen officially reach a typical 54.1 knots (62.2MPH) with only wind power to carry him along. The necessary technological breakthough, as you'd suspect, comes mostly through the sail. Since the Sailrocket 2 doesn't have to turn in all directions, it uses an asymmetric wing whose optimized shape and lightweight carbon ribbing produce not only a very efficient power-to-weight ratio, but a seemingly logic-defying amplification effect: the sail catches wind generated by the boat's own speed, magnifying the intensity of any gusts until physics prevent going any faster. The kicker may be a slew of additional records coming in short order. As you'll see in the video after the break, Larsen has already hit unofficial averages of 55.3 knots (63.7MPH) over a nautical mile, 59.4 knots (68.3MPH) over 500 meters and 64.8 knots (74.6MPH) at peak speed. If we could reach that kind of pace on the water, we'd start to look at everyday motorboats as downright antiquated.
[Image credit: Helena Darvelid, Vestas Sailrocket]