Water Speed Record Contender

Lately I’ve been all excited about wind powered transportation, and yesterday I rediscovered the raging battle for fastest wind powered watercraft.

We all remember when a really cool looking boat called “Yellow Pages Endeavor” that could only sail on one tack broke the record in October, 1993 at Sandy Point, Victoria.

They sailed it on a tiny inlet that was situated in a very windy area, but narrow enough to avoid most of the waves that would be normally associated with such gusts. It was piloted by Simon McKeown of Australia, and reached a speed of 46.52 knots.

Photo from: extreme.hu

That record held until April 10 2005, when Finian Maynard set a new speed sailing record of 48.7 Knots on a windsurfer. That’s pretty cool, but it’s not really a sailboat.

Recently, however, my new favorite company Wind Jet has developed a contraption that I can only really call a floating airplane powered by a kite. Unlike “Yellow Pages Endeavor” the “WindJet Craft” can sail on both tacks, upwind and downwind while being able to run in substantial waves.

Apparently the craft can exceed 40 knots and becomes clear of the water at top speed. Apart from the keel foil, that is, which remains submerged in order to carry the side forces.

At current, it does not seem to have the record for world’s fastest sailboat, but I, for one, am hoping it gets it. If it’s anywhere near as fast as it looks, it should have no problem at all.

German Kite Skates Across Australia

Via TreeHugger

I got all excited to learn that a German fellow named Dirk Gion has gathered up a mountain board and some kitesurfing gear and taken to windskating across Austraila. I’ve always thought that the wind was an underutilized source of power. I’ve raced sailboats since high school, and I’m aware of certain iceboats exceeding 75mph and more than 10X wind speed, but I have to admit to being surprised that Dirk has managed to exceed 30mph powered only by a kite.

Aparently he has been pulled over by the police a couple of times, but had no real problems with them. I’m sure this has just been out of curiosity for the most part. I mean, I would pull him over if I was a cop just to pick his brain. I can only imagine, however, that if he was doing this in the US, the oil lobby would have had their neo-conservative buddies pass some kind of law against it, and poor Dirk would be sitting in prison now.

Anti-authroity mentality aside, however, you just have to admire a guy who tackles a 3000 + kilometer journey with only a skateboard and a kite, and it’s not like this is his only ambitious journey. At 19 he crossed Germany and France on horseback, and he has managed some pretty impressive rock climbing accomplishments as well.