The Race to Break the Speed Record

The Swiss-based SP80 speed project aims to reach 80 knots with a kite pulling its surface-skimming trimaran. A ­subsurface superventilating foil counters the lift of the kite, and a mechanical interface aligns the forces.

The Swiss-based SP80 speed project aims to reach 80 knots with a kite pulling its surface-skimming trimaran. A ­subsurface superventilating foil counters the lift of the kite, and a mechanical interface aligns the forces. (Courtesy SP80/)

If Alex Caizergues succeeds at breaking the speed sailing world record in 2022, it will be his third time around using a kite, but otherwise completely different from his first two records. Those marks—50.57 knots in 2008 and 54.10 in 2010—were set when foiling boards were continually upping the 500-meter mark, sometimes more than once a year. Caizergues’ 2010 run added 3 knots to what the famed trimaran L’Hydroptere had shown us only a year before. But all those efforts ran into cavitation trouble at about 52 knots, that point when flow over the foils boils into vapor—the point at which control vanishes. For his early records, Caizergues used a hydrofoil to lift him above the water. Now, with his Syroco team based in Marseille, France, he intends to use a hydrofoil to hold him down…

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