In a warm-up to an attempt to break the trans-Pacific sailing record from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the foil trimaran l’Hydroptère DCNS set the first certifiable 1-mile speed record on San Francisco Bay on Aug. 31.
A race committee, under the authority of the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay and the San Francisco Bay Area Multihull Association, declared a preliminary record of 37.5 knots (43.1 mph) on a 1-nautical-mile course between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Winds were 16 knots, gusting to 20 knots.
Click play to watch the trimaran in action.
The preliminary speed is based on visual timing that will be certified on analysis, including GPS plots, according to the l’Hydroptère team.
"When we learned there was no formal sailing speed record on this extraordinary bay, we knew we must see what we could do," l’Hydroptère designer and skipper Alain Thébault said in a statement. "Our project has always been about showing how fast sails can fly."
The world's fastest sailboat, l'Hydroptère DCNS in 2009 reached a sustained speed of 50.17 knots (58 mph) over 1 nautical mile, as ratified by the World Speed Sailing Record Council, and a top speed of 56 knots (64.4 mph).
The experimental 60-footer has a beam of 79 feet, with a mast standing more than 9 stories tall. It combines aerospace and marine technologies, using hydrofoils and a newly developed stabilization system from the French high-tech company DCNS to lift the boat and attain stable high speeds.
"When l’Hydroptère DCNS accelerated up onto its foils, it was like watching ‘Star Wars,’ going to light speed," says Bob Naber, a multihull speed expert on hand for the record run.