When designers put their heads together to make something that looks fast, it generally turns out that it goes pretty fast too. The reverse is equally true, which is exactly what we’ve got with the SP80 sailboat, which looks like it was imagined by the team at Star Wars and is designed to break the world sailing speed record next year.
As with so many precision engineering and manufacturing companies, be it watchmaking or bicycle production, SP80 is a team based in Switzerland. Since the company was founded in 2018, they’ve been hard at work designing the world’s fastest sailing boat, which looks less like the galleys that launched after Helen of Troy, and more like an SR-71 Blackbird jet.
SP80 have designed its sailboat to achieve the eye-watering speeds of 80 knots (150km/h), which if can be actualised in a real-world setting, would shatter the current world record of 65.45 knots (121.1 km/h) that was set in 2012 by the Vestas Sailrocket 2. The vessel itself measures around 10 metres long, with a pair of stabilizing fin-like pontoons that measures seven metres from tip to tip.
In order to keep it as sleek and aerodynamic as possible, the sailboat doesn’t actually have a mast or traditional sail, instead propelled by a kite blowing ahead of the vessel. Because of this unconventional design, the vessel requires two pilots, one of whom will steer the boat while the other pilot’s the kite.
As you’d expect in what is effectively an F1 racecar of the high seas, the cockpit of the vessel has been designed with reinforced kevlar elements that can withstand 50G of accelerating force. Boasting bucket seats, six-point harnesses, and helmets for both pilots’ safety, it will also be the first sailing boat with deployable oxygen masks in case of an emergency.
“2023 will be a decisive year, with the final preparations to break the 80 knots record and make sailing history,” explained Mayeul van den Broek, co-founder and project manager of SP80.
“We are currently looking for the last financial and technical partnerships to take the adventure to the finish line. The whole team is so proud to see this concept becoming a reality and we can’t wait to finally unveil and test our final design on the water!”
SP80 has already attracted the sponsorship of the watchmaker Richard Mille, a sophisticated manufacturer that actually uses high-end sail making technology to create its extremely robust watch cases. It’s a natural fit for both Swiss companies, as SP80 seeks to lock in its final sponsorship partners.
The final SP80 sailboat is expected to be fully built and launched by the end of 2022, with the first attempts at the world sailing speed records to take place near the middle of 2023 in the south of France.