... to challenge the speed record

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For more than a decade, no wind-powered vessel was faster on the water than Australian Simon McKeon’s 30-foot trimaran, Yellow Pages Endeavour.

For more than a decade, no wind-powered vessel was faster on the water than Australian Simon McKeon’s 30-foot trimaran, Yellow Pages Endeavour, which reached 46.52 knots in October 1993 off Sandy Point, Australia.

That changed in November 2004, when Irish boardsailor Finian Maynard touched 46.82 knots over 500 meters on a canal known as the “French Trench” in Saintes Maries de la Mer, France, making him the fastest sailor on the planet. Five months later, in April 2005, Maynard topped his own time, reaching the current record of 48.7 knots. In October 2005 Maynard also set the mark for the fastest nautical mile: 39.97 knots. That record was broken a year later by Dutch boardsailor Bjorn Dunkerbeck, who touched 41.14 knots. The records were ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (www.sailspeedrecords.com ).

Maynard, who is 32, began boardsailing at age 8 with his parents in the British Virgin Islands, where he now lives. Standing 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing nearly 260 pounds, some say his size and strength help him maneuver his sailboard in 40- to 50-knot gusts.

Today, Maynard heads a small group of fellow speed sailors called the Masters of Speed (www.mastersofspeed.com ). Their mission is to accomplish what no other sailor has yet to do: break the 50-knot barrier.