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The Film about ‘Iron Duck’ Setting the World Sailing Speed Record

California is known for a spectacular coastline and 12-month sailing season. Less well known is the eastern ‘shoreline’, which sits near one of the best sites in the world for land sailing and setting world sailing speed records: the Ivanpah Dry Lake bed. We recently received the film trailer below for a film about the Iron Duck – a legendary iron ‘sailboat’ that set the world speed record on California’s ‘inland sea’. We previewed the entire 30-minute documentary, which is an inspiring tale of the human spirit and how people are driven by curiosity, passion, creativity and desire to take on great challenges.

Southern California filmmakers Bowsprit Company sent in the description: “It almost ended before it started, with the crash of their first-speed yacht record attempt, the disaster that broke the short-lived Wood Duck. The Iron Duck tells a story of how Bob Dill and Bob Schumacher went on to build and sail the fastest wind-powered vehicle in the world.

“In 1999, they shattered the 100 mph mark and secured a place in the record books that held for ten years to the day.

“The wind-powered world speed record was an obsession of Dill’s who thought he could break it with the initiative engineering ideas he had to build the Iron Duck. Bob Dill’s infatuation with the speed record drew him to drag his best friend Schumacher along across the country every year for a decade. They persevered through unpredictable playa conditions, design iterations, and entirely self-funding an ambitious record attempt. The campaign was a success with Bob Schumacher, who set a new and seemingly unbeatable speed record at 116.7 mph. However, both friends have always wanted for the trophy to be in Bob Dill’s name.

“Today, we follow Bob Dill as he brings the legendary boat out of retirement to sail it one last time (his 70th birthday) before scrapping it and saying goodbye to the 30-year project. As in the speed trials, the wind doesn’t readily cooperate, and Dill has to decide if he is ultimately ready to let go of the dream of the Iron Duck.”


Curiously, after ten years, the record was broken by Bay Area sailor and entrepreneur Richard Jenkins, who is also the founder of Saildrone in Alameda which we covered in our August 2018 issue. Richard is recognized in the film when he ups the record from 116 miles per hour to 126.1 mph aboard his land yacht Greenbird. The film is worth watching, and comes out November 20. The Greenbird record still stands.

1 Comment

  1. Geri conser 2 years ago

    Great job. Enjoyed so much brought back many memories with our home made land sailor back in the 70s. Thanks

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