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December 12, 2022

Emirates Team New Zealand Sets New Land-Speed Record

Records are meant to be broken. America’s Cup holder Emirates Team New Zealand and land speed pilot Glenn Ashby have sailed Horonuku, their wind-powered land-speed world record craft, faster than any previous records.

Horonuku Emirates Team New Zealand
Horonuku, from Emirates Team New Zealand, getting to record-breaking speed in Australia.
© 2022 Emirates Team New Zealand

Horonuku, named by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and meaning “gliding swiftly across the land,” did exactly that, and was clocked at 222.4 km/h (138.2 mph) in 22 knots of windspeed on Lake Gairdner (a large salt lake) in South Australia.

Pilot Glenn Ashby was very happy, but knows Horonuku can go much faster. “The team and I are obviously buzzing to have sailed Horonuku at a speed faster than anyone has ever before — powered only by the wind. But in saying that, we know Horonuku has a lot more speed in it when we get more wind and better conditions,” Ashby said.

“So, for sure, there is a cause for a celebration, but this isn’t the end.”

Before the 222.4 km/h speed is declared “official” there is a stringent verification process that needs to be conducted in accordance with the international governing body, FISLY (Federation Internationale de Sand et Land Yachting), for the new world-record speed to become ratified. There was an independent FISLY-approved judge on the ground at Lake Gairdner to witness and verify the run. Measured on a two-second average speed, the result is directly comparable to that of the standing record of 202.9 km/h (126.1 mph) recorded over 13 years ago by Jenkins on March 29, 2009.

The high-speed run by Ashby and the team comes after a frustrating few months of unprecedented rainfall and surface water on the lake, leading to delays in the program. And the weather forecast for this weekend was equally challenging, with significant wind direction changes and the dreaded threat of rain and thunderstorms.

Now the team has passed the previous record speed and is confident that with more wind Horonuku has the ability go even faster. They now await a perfect weather forecast to have another run. Though in the absence of any more breeze in the foreseeable future, and with Christmas just around the corner, that is likely to come in 2023.

We reached out to Richard Jenkins, previous world land-speed record holder and CEO of Saildrone in Alameda for his comments. He referred us to his posting on LinkedIn. saying, “Huge congrats to #glennAshby & #TeamNewZealand for breaking my land speed record, which has stood for almost 14 years! Great work by a very professional team and well deserved.

“Of course, very flattering that they ended with a design so similar to Greenbird!”

Richard Jenkins Greenbird
Richard Jenkins’ Greenbird, when she set the record almost 14 years ago, looked very similar to new record-holder Horonuku .
© 2022 Richard Jenkins

“Horunuku was a lot bigger and heavier than Greenbird, but the size of Greenbird was ultimately driven by something I could carry, assemble and run single-handed. Greenbird weighed 350 kg, and Horunuku weighed in at 2.5 tons. I used aerodynamic downforce for top speed, rather than static weight. The light weight meant it was nimble and fast to accelerate, so I could use smaller lake beds, which gave me a lot more venue flexibility; however, you do pay the price of top speed for the aero-induced drag. I was skeptical the heavy approach would achieve the record due to the acceleration penalty and not being able to utilize short gusts at top speed, but ultimately it obviously paid off in the right conditions. Great work and design optimization by the TNZ design team; well done.”

Emirates Team New Zealand announced the achievement in a press release today.

A Question About Spinnakers, Symmetry and Ratings

Here’s a question for those of you who are fluent in the language of the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet, aka PHRF, or know their rules of racing like the back of their blistered, sunspotted hands.

Jim Morgan, who races his Oceanside-based Ericson 35 MkIII Green Flash, wrote us with this question:

“I have an Ericson 35 Mk 3 that is raced with a bow-tacked asymmetric kite. The rating PHRF (in SoCal) assigns is based on a poled-out symmetrical kite, which offers a significant advantage on deep downwind runs, particularly windward/leewards.

“They either do not understand, or just don’t care, about the difference. (And they question why their membership is on a death spiral!)

“The sailmakers (Ullman, Quantum, etc.) tell me there should be a correction due to the inability to square back the kite. Have you guys ever covered this topic? Max Ebb?”

Anyone care to take a stab? Please comment below, or write us here.

And now we take a moment to enjoy the beauty of some West Coast spinnakers. Those are the Cal 40s Green Buffalo (foreground) and Azure hugging the shore in the 2017 Great Vallejo Race.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim Henry
Here’s a little asymmetry as seen on the long, final leg of the 2017 Westpoint regatta.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim Henry

Do you have a classic photo of a horizon dotted with colorful spinnakers? Please send it to us here. You may even get yourself on the cover of Latitude 38.

The Trouble With Sailing the Forbidden Path

Surely we’ve all done it: sailed a little outside the usual route. Perhaps in an attempt to take a shortcut, perhaps we’ve seen something that warrants a closer look. Either way, one or more of us will have sailed a forbidden path, for one reason or another. If we’re fortunate, we suffer no consequences, but sometimes one does.

Jeff Berman, of the Tartan 4000 Maverick, sent us the following photos a couple of weeks ago, of a mariner who, perhaps having taken the forbidden path, ended up on the rocks.

Boat in forbidden zone
You can’t tell from this photo, but between Alcatraz and the red/green AZ buoy is a rock known as Little Alcatraz.
© 2022 Jeff Berman
boat on rock off Alcatraz
The powerboat seems to have found the rock.
© 2022 Jeff Berman
boat on rock and USCG rescue craft
Now, how to explain one’s predicament to the USCG.
© 2022 Jeff Berman

If this is indeed the same situation as was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, then the incident occurred on Saturday morning, November 26, just before 10:00, with two people and three dogs aboard.

Forbidden zones usually exist for a reason, and it behooves us as sailors to be aware of not only those zones, but also the reasons behind them. That way, if we do choose to ignore the rules, we can at least know what we might be in for if we find we have made the wrong decision. That said, there is nothing to indicate that the captain of the unfortunate powerboat was in that area intentionally. Perhaps the boat had mechanical difficulties. So while this story may sound accusatory, it is not our intention to point the finger. As we said at the start, we’ve probably all crossed that line.

What trouble have you gotten into when you sailed a track that you later wished you hadn’t? Let us know here: [email protected], or in the comments below.

The Resurrection of ‘Rosebud’

Serendipity has many forms: perhaps running into an old college flame right after a breakup, small talk at a bar bringing a job opportunity, or a gap on the starboard layline when you’ve overstood out on the left side. For me, it happened on August 12, 2022, when on the second-to-last night of the 5O5 Worlds Rob Woelfel casually mentioned he had worked as a salvage diver. The next two-plus months would bring a crazy adventure, as four friends and competitors came together to save and rehabilitate a boat that had started another sailor’s racing dynasty.

This is the story of Rosebud, a Santa Cruz 52 commissioned by Roger and Isobel Sturgeon in December 1997. The boat is the 15th in the production run of 27, and a former Big Boat Series champion. It nabbed the cover of the October 1999 Latitude and led to the build of two other great Rosebuds: the famous and successful TP52 and STP65. While the two newer Rosebuds are still sailed in the Northwest and in the Mediterranean under new owners, the first SC52 version had disappeared, long forgotten since the last time it was seen racing on San Francisco Bay in 2005.

I became part of the story of Rosebud in 2016 as the victim of a never-ending conference call on my commute back from Palo Alto to Alameda. It was during that call that I discovered San Leandro Marina, what must have been a formerly big marina now mostly used for watching planes land in Oakland, relaxing after a visit to the dispensary, and cleaning out your Lyft. Much to my surprise, there was a big rig that sure seemed out of place in the marina: a tall, triple-spreader mast that I recognized quickly. It was a Santa Cruz 52. A fuzzy, zoomed-in photo showed the boat’s name was Morgana, and she had fallen into disrepair. I was intrigued.

December Issue
She didn’t look her best, but the discerning sailor could see her true beauty beneath the grime.
© 2022 Rosebud

What must happen to send a boat like an SC52 to be forgotten in a marina?

How does it end up in San Leandro, so far away from the waters where it would sail? A month or so later, I dropped by the harbor office to see if I could find out more. Sure enough, the slip fees were up to date, and while they could not give me the owner’s name, they were happy to let me check out the boat. The boat was on an end-tie, two fingers from the mouth of the marina. The woman who walked me down to the boat said that the marina was going to close, and I’d soon find out why.

To read the full story, go to Latitude38‘s December issue.

You can support Latitude 38’s local sailing news when you click here

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