In a bid to cement firmly cement its place in naval history, the world’s fastest ship, the Hydroptère, will attempt to break the record for the fastest trans-pacific voyage.
Since 2008, the Hydroptère has been breaking speed records. During that year, the unsurprisingly French ship showed the world what it was capable of by sailing to a speed of 52.86 knots (97.90 km/h; 60.83 mph). A few months later, the ship eclipsed its previous precord by reach 56.3 knots (104.3 km/h; 64.8 mph) with only the mild drawback of flipping itself upside down.
Unfortunately for the Hydroptère team, neither of those impressive marks were eligible for the world’s speed record, on account of the fact that they were reached on a course shorter than the 500 meters needed to set an official records.
Undaunted by mere technicalities like course lengths and capsizing, the Hydroptère’s team pushed forward, and on September 4, 2009 the ship finally broke the world record, cutting through the water at a 58.86 knot (97.90 km/h 60.83 mph) clip.
The key to the Hydroptère’s performance is its design. When at top speed, the Hydroptère is lifted five meters out of the water. Only the hydrofoils make contact with the water, allowing it to remain technically a ship rather than an airplane, and at maximum speed, the foils themselves experience forces that are twice that of what is experienced by the wings of a jet. To maintain their structural integrity, the foils are composed of carbon fibers that are impregnated with epoxy. The Hydroptère has also been shaped using the most advanced hydrodynamic and aeronautical analysis, which has given it the ability to accelerate from 20 to 45 knots (37 - 83 km/h 23 – 51mph) in 10 seconds.
In 2009, a fully crewed ship, the Alfa Romeo II, set the world record for the fastest trans-pacific voyage with a time of 5 days 14 hours, 36 minutes, 20 seconds. In short order the Hydroptère might erase that entry and establishing itself as one of the most impressive vessels to ever set sail.
Watch a Video of the Hydroptère in Action:
Images and Video Courtesy of Hydroptère & Sailingnews.tv