ClarkSail reporter Willy Clark checks in with Paul Larsen from Namibia after he set the world water speed record with a top speed of 68.01 over one second, and an average of 65.45 for 500 meters, aboard Vesta’s SailRocket 2.
Paul Larsen: Yeah, that was pretty mad. Those numbers really sat me on my arse out there. We were hoping for big things but I didn’t expect that.
ClarkSail: Incredible. We’ve been talking about it all morning. We’re all super impressed over here. Do have to say remember Donal Campbell though. Stay safe.
Paul Larsen: Yeah, water speed records are notorious for unhappy endings.
ClarkSail: So what is it like to be the fastest man in the world? Got to be something special right?
Paul Larsen: Well for me personally it was obviously a big thing, but what happened yesterday was what it was all about. We didn’t want to just chase a number, we wanted to knock down limits themselves. It was just an incredible sensation, especially to do it in such an efficient craft. I was satisfied yesterday that that was “job done.” We set out a long time to ago to do this and do it right.
ClarkSail: You’ve ben at this for 11 years correct?
Paul Larsen: 11 years for me, 13 for Malcolm Barnsley our test engineer. So many people talk about these things and never follow through. I was determined that that wasn’t going to be the case for us.
ClarkSail: Wow, talk about gratifying. So can you tell us about the fence? The way we understand it that was what made all the difference.
Paul Larsen: I’m not sure how much of the foil we should reveal at this point. A lot of it is out there I guess but the key parts are hard to understand unless they are explained. The fence is pretty straight forward really. It was our first shot at a fence on this foil and it obviously worked very well. It transformed the boat. It’s a bloody big thing too. It probably doesn’t need to be that big.
ClarkSail: Well if it gets you an extra 20 knots that’s mind blowing.
Paul Larsen: We put it on, it worked, we didn’t touch it.
ClarkSail: Why get off a winner right? So the way we understand it the fence is key in preventing ventilation. Do we have that correct?
Paul Larsen: Well actually the foil isn’t so much designed to work with cavitations as delay it until a much higher speed. Before we put the fence on the foil was cavitating at a much lower speed because a good chunk of it was ventilating. This caused the non ventilated spot part of the foil to do all the work and hence it started hitting suction peaks at lower speed and thus began to cavitate.
At least that is the theory we backed and it seemed to work. I would like to re-visit it once all this madness has slowed down though. Too often we try to tie these things up a bit too easily. There is often more to it than that.
ClarkSail: So what is the plan going forward for you guys? Do you keep pushing for more?
Paul Larsen: I think the foil could get to 70 knots as a peak, so yeah we could get some more out of it. The boat itself is built for more. It’s a tough bus that thing. Nothing flimsy about it. I think most people haven’t appreciated the amount of good engineering that went into this thing. We have a good team and we all wanted to do it right. That first boat was a hard bastard of a class room.
ClarkSail: So no plans to put it away or send it to a museum or anything?
Paul Larsen: Well I want Helena (Darvelid, reserve pilot) to start sailing it if she wants to. I think we will bring it back to the UK for now. I don’t know, it sort of belongs here in a way. Lot’s of people will no doubt want to see it and it’s time to give the sponsors some real pay-back. But I’m pretty sure you will see this boat over 70 knots at some stage in its’ life.
ClarkSail: Well we’re all looking forward to that Paul, and we’re all incredibly impressed that you and Malcolm stuck with it for so long.
Paul Larsen: We knew there was truth at the core of it. We couldn’t walk away.
ClarkSail: Well congratulations. We’re all incredibly impressed.
Paul Larsen: Righto, I’ll write something up and send it to you soon. Say hello to your dad. At the end of the day I’m just out here trying to impress old gurus like him.
ClarkSail: Will do. And congratulations again. 11 years well spent.
Paul Larsen: It now seems that way. Thanks Willy.