Saturday, January 13, 2018

Worlds Fastest Sailboats

I wrote this article on Dec. 4th 2011 and so I thought it's time to update this article as a lot of records have fallen since 2011. The debate about how fast sailboats can go and/or speed differences between monohulls and multihulls can sometimes be a ridiculously contentious debate. It can be like talking about politics. So I think the best way to resolve this debate is to state facts, so here are the facts as supplied by the World Speed Sailing Records Council.

November 2012 off the coast of Walvis Bay, Namibia the Vestas Sailrocket was able to set three sailing records. 1. Top speed, (2.) 500 meet record top speed, and 24 hour record. Currently the Top Speed and 500 meter records is at an amazing 65.45 knots (75.2 mph). The nautical mile record is also by Vestas at an average speed of 55.32 knots. These records are not likely to be broken for some time. It should be noted this sailing craft can only sail on flat protected waters in one direction, so is not able to tack, jib, etc. Watch this amazing sailing craft...

The top speed record for a sailboat that can actually sail in open waters and able to tack, etc. goes to the trimaran l’Hydroptere. For 500 meters it hit a speed of 51.36 knots, which is almost 60 mph (59.33 MPH). They also did 24 hours at an average speed of 50.17 knots. Next phase for the design team is to develop an ocean going model. So look for many ocean records to be broke shortly.

Many felt circumnavigating the globe by water in under 50 days was impossible but that impossibility happened when the Trimaran Groupama 3 did it in 48 days, but then the trimaran Banque Populaire V did it in 45 days. Then the unthinkable happened when the trimaran IDEC Sport 3 skippered by Francis Joyon did it in 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes, 30 seconds. So maybe breaking 40 days is possible. This catamaran also set the 24 hour record at an average speed of 37.83 knots/43.53 mph. An interesting note is all three trimarans mentioned here are one and the same boat but was raced under 3 different names. What is amazing is the closest a power boat could get to this record was 60 days with the jet boat Ady Gil. However this was not non stop as they had to stop 12 times to refuel. The USS Navy nuclear-powered submarine USS Triton also did it in 60 days… 2 hours faster and non stop totally submerged.

The fastest speeds around a race course go to the Americas Cup (AC) catamarans. The older AC72 catamarans were fast, clocked at 44.15 knots for the 2013 America's Cup. After the 2013 event the AC cats were reduced to 48 ft but turned out to be faster and were clocked at 46 knots. Certainly these AC cats are the fastest sailboats ever to sail around a racing course, however this class of cats are now dead as a future racing class. When New Zealand won the 2017 America's Cup they announced the next America's Cup event would be raced on slower monohulls. Sad new to some, particularly the younger generation that loved the excitement of the fast high speed formula like racing. If you are sad about this news, no worries as foiling cats are here to say... see the next paragraph to see why.

The Extreme Sailing Series has been going on for years aboard 40 foot non foiling cats and then in 2016 they moved to the smaller but faster GC32 foiling cats. For many the Extreme Sailing Series moving to foiling cats was a big deal with the let down of the America's Cup no longer being raced on foiling cats. So via the Extreme Sailing Series one can still get their high speed foiling fix by watch spectacular racing and crashes. The GC32 top speed is 40.2 knots thus far off the pace of a AC cat but at a smaller size very impressive. Check the racing out at

In a smaller size of 18 feet is Flying Phantom that can hit speeds of 34.9 knots. There are several companies manufacturing 18 foot foiling catamarans but the Flying Phantom is the most popular at this point.

And finally the smallest and fastest sailboat is the foiling 12 foot catamaran called the UFO. This boat when foiling cat has hit 24.8 knots with a solo sailor. We will be posting more about this boat on FunToSAIL website shortly.

It should be noted that foils take work to maintain and the GC32 sells for $300,000 and the Fly Phantom sells for about $45,000. So for the average sailor these foiling cats are not the best choice for the weekend warrior. However the UFO sells for $7,000 and foils are fairly low maintenance do in part to the boats small size.

The sailboat that started the whole speed junky and off the beach surf craze is the undisputed king of beach cats, the 16 foot Hobie 16. This cat has been clocked at 25.9 knots, with GPS speed reports of up to 27 knots. When it comes to a non-foiling cat which was first built in 1970 its fast and continues to be the most sailed and raced worldwide. In addition with the addition of the Trapseats (wing like hammock seats the attach to either side of the boat) one with a disAbility that limited mobility can also sail this cat.


Top speed unofficially is 32.45 knots aboard the 140' Mari-Cha IV, sustained for short bursts. Since no monohull is hitting speeds of 40 knots or more the World Sailing Speed Record Council has no records of top speeds other than during monohulls record attempts at 24 hours or longer. Again some large high performance monohulls have hit over 30 knots for a very short time.

New monohull 24 hour record confirmed. The World Sailing Speed Record Council has ratified a new monohull 24 hour record set by skipper Ken Read (USA) and 20 crew on the 100-foot Comanche on July 10-11. While competing in the 2015 Transatlantic Race, Comanche covered a distance of 618.01 nm, averaging 25.75 knots.Jul 20, 2015

The 84 foot Banque Populaire VIII, skippered by Armel Le Cléac'h (FRA) went around the world in 74 days, 3 hours.


A note of interest with the next America's Cup 36, the sailboats used will be foiling monohulls so we should see some new monohull records.

CONCLUSION: So there you have it the official records to establish the facts.

And just to get another debate going what top speed have you had your sailboat going? Make a comment below.

Hobie Co. indicated in the mid 70's of a H16 doing 26.2 mph, and officially advertised a speed of 25.9 mph in the early 80's. Check out the Hobie forum for speed info. A Hobie 21 was recorded going 32.5 knots (proof is posted) . Take a look at this video of a Hobie 16 doing 22.3 mph. I recorded the speed of 26 knots on my Reynolds 33 catamaran. I bet I have gone faster on this big cat but unfortunately I did not have a GPS with me.

An Olympic Tornado catamaran was recorded hitting 36 knots. And a Laser monohull was recorded doing 16.8 knots in a storm.

No matter what speed you are going its slicing silently across the water that makes it all so enjoyable.

By Miles Moore of

Friday, December 29, 2017

Snark Stories

1960 Sea Snark with Kool cigarette sail logo

First Generation
When I was twelve I scraped together all the money I had made from yard work, doing piecework in my Dad's machine shop, and anything else I could scrounge and bought a sailboat--a Sea Snark, then in it's first incarnation (1960) and I've kept it ever since. My Dad taught me the basics, but soon was sailing solo. The original Snark had an unprotected hull made of expanded polystyrene ("Styrofoam") with a plastic sail and a very flimsy plywood rudder that lasted only two summers.  The plastic sail was soon replaced with a red and white nylon sail bought from the manufacturers. That's me on the far left, peeking around the sail, at age twelve.

Second Generation
I sailed it on Clark Lake in Michigan for most of my growing-up years.  The centerboard was lost and replaced with one made from marine plywood scrounged from the garage.  It didn't see much use during my college days until the summer of my Junior year.  I had my wife-to-be (then girl friend) up to visit.  We had sailed it to the far West end of the lake and practically becalmed when my Dad arrived in his Aztec and buzzed the house to let us know to pick him up in Napoleon.  Kathy was not pleased to meet her future father-in-law looking wind-blown and red-faced.  After we were married a few years Kathy sewed up the blue and yellow sail to replace the now-shredded red and white sail.

Third Generation
When I joined the staff of Campus Crusade in 1974 and moved to Florida, I took the Sea Snark with us.  We sailed it in Tampa bay and Daytona Beach.  Once while sailing peacefully across Tampa Bay a dugong surfaced and exhaled noisily right next to us, scaring us well into the next century.  We move to Indiana in 1976, then California in 1980 where we began to sail on Mission Bay in San Diego and Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino mountains.  This picture shows me sailing with Josh at about age three.

Fourth Generation
I recently made a new sail from my old hang glider and we tried it out on Mission bay recently.  It was bordered with 1" webbing that was sewn into the boom/spar edges of the sail. Where they cross they were sewn together and a brass grommet inserted.  The stainless steel hinge bolt (between the boom and spar) runs through this grommet and anchors the sail.  The opposite ends of the webbing are anchored to the boom and spar with hose clamps.  Small holes melted every foot along the length of the edges allow nylon cable ties to fix the sail to the boom and spar leaving the aluminum entirely visible.

Here are some fun videos of fellow Snark sailors :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Last Racing of the Year!

This is it the last racing of the year via the Extreme Sailing Series, don't miss the action by watching the racing at their youtube channel
Racing begins Thursday/Nov. 30 at 14:00 local time (UTC-7). Fans can follow the action via the live blog on race day one and two and can watch the live stream on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 December from 14:00 – 17:00 local time.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Beach Sailing

A Three Part Adventure...

Begins with a casual motor from Spokane to Stevenson, WA, in the the heart of the Columbia Gorge, on the heels of the devastating Eagle Creek fire just across the river in Oregon.  Still smoldering as I pass thru, they're actively mopping up, visible from the recently opened freeway.  I spend the night with Frank, my regular crew aboard High Voltage, at his new vacation/retirement home he's built as a sailing accessory for his skiff/sailboard addiction.  We walk to the beach with the dog, and marvel at this magnificent wind machine that is the Gorge, and spend a pleasant evening on the deck appreciating where we are.

Post breakfast, I connect with Dave and Vicki from Bozeman, as they pass through town, and we caravan westward towards the coast.  Which takes us through Portland, where we make a brief detour to visit Phil and Vicky's beautiful Craftsman bungalow in a sweet old neighborhood.  We get the VIP tour of not only the house, but the famed shop that has produced a long string of unique all aluminum land yachts that he and his father  designed and constructed over the the last 30 plus years.  Phil doesn't quite make it home in time to join in the tour, and because the weather is spectacular and we're itching to get to the beach.  Another couple hours has us rolling into Fort Stevens State Park, which occupies the extreme northwestern tip of Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia, where it dumps into the Pacific.  A huge jetty of giant boulders extends northward to define and protect the entrance,  with 30 miles of super smooth, exceptionally  flat, hard sand beach extending southward until interrupted by the great headlands and haystack rocks that characterize the OR coast.  And it's this beach that is the reason we're there!

We score a couple campsites and head off to explore the park, eyeing the beaches for sailing suitability and access.  At one marginal entrance point we chat up a ranger who points us to Sunset Beach six miles south.  It's perfect!  We can, and do, drive onto the beach with our rigs, and as the sun seeks the horizon, we assemble the boats.  No wind, and the tide is coming in, but the boats are ready for the morning.  We get back to camp, and there's Brooks, down from Port Townsend to check out this proposed new venue with us.  The bullshit flows til dark, and we retire giddy with the promise of impending glee.

So landsailing is a fickle sport to begin with.  You need a very flat,  hard and preferably smooth, surface.  Which in the USA is usually a desert dry lake bed.  Europeans sail the beaches almost exclusively, being a bit shy on such desert locales.  And then you need to survive on the edge of this playa until the wind arrives. To those essential criteria we now add tides.  We need the it to be out for the beach to be wide enough to get long enough tacks and jibes to keep the boat speed up.  So there's maybe and hour to an hour and a half on either side of low tide when the beach is sailable.  Now it's also preferable that this period be during daylight hours.  And when the wind is blowing.  And it would be really nice if it wasn't friggin' cold and blowing too hard.  And wasn't foggy.  All things Oregon beachs are (in)famous for.

But we, for reasons as yet to be revealed, are blessed with two days of sunny weather, temps in the eighties (yes, eighties on the Oregon coast!),  and a useful mean low tide at a reasonable hour, with wind.  Sails are rigged, and Dave is off instantly, with his superior light air skills and state of the art boat.  Brooks and I fuss about for a while with the gentle offshore breeze that's struggling to top the dunes and get down to beach level.  Eventually it builds enough to get hooked up, and the delicate dance begins, trying to keep the speed up enough to stay connected, not getting too close to the undulating water's edge, where the sand gets soft enough to slow one's momentum, nor on the other tack, get too close to the dunes that are creating a wind shadow that drops the pressure below what's needed to keep rolling.  Dave's fully powered up, and grinning maniacally, I'm having to get out occasionally for another push start, when my dancing skills fail me.  But when we're cruising it's heaven, following the edge of each receding waves, driving away as the next one breaks and pushes inland.  The beach is busy, with vehicles travelling north and south, and people wandering back and forth between surf and dry sand.  So vigilance is the order of the day, and it adds to the challenge of maintaining speed while negotiating moving obstacles.   But we're sailing the beach, a new experience for us all!

Our three hours quickly expire, and we're back exploring the park.  The mouth of the Columbia was considered a strategic site for many years, and many bunkers and old gun placements are still in evidence.  Enticing bike trail throughout the park beckon, but it never seems possible to bring all the correct toys on any particular adventure.  Brooks and I do break out the motorcycles to continue the exploration, and stay out til sunset, and join the many tourists and Oregonians who are also mesmerized by the ritual dousing of the star.

The next day again dawns bright, and we can hear significant breeze in the tops of the very tall trees of our campsites.  Oh, how I love coastal rain forests!  Particularly when it's not raining!  Back to the beach at the appropriate hour, and we're greeted with onshore breeze enough to induce giggles.  Sails go up and we're off!  The wind is more perpendicular to the beach today, with a small northerly component, making for long reaches on port tack.  The surface is so smooth, it's a Cadillac ride, top down, hair figuratively blowing in the wind (helmets required!),  Surf crashing just yards away, sunshine burnishing the sand and waves, it's an experience to be savored.

Eventually, the beach narrows as the tide returns, and it becomes more difficult to keep up enough speed.  We de rig, and pack up the boats, as the weather service threatens us with a cold front and rain the following day.  A relaxing dinner in camp winds things down, and the morning will find us embarking upon Phase Two of the adventure.


I just spent some time on your website, enjoyed it.  Will you do the Desert Regatta again?  I sent you some older reports that you may or may not have seen.  Feel free to post them if they have value for your site.  Waiting for ice.  Only moderately patiently.

Here is a fun video showing the fun and craziness of Land Sailing...

NALSA Big Boat Coalition, Alvord Desert, 2017 from Cinemotion Media on Vimeo.

Author of text Dave Farmer