Dylan Fletcher’s Great Britain SailGP Team have this week achieved what no other sail racing team in the world has done, breaking the sport’s elusive 50-knot speed barrier during training ahead of Cowes SailGP.
This historic moment – a first aboard the supercharged F50 catamaran – occurred during the British team’s fourth day of training on the Solent, ahead of SailGP’s European debut to be held on 10th and 11th August at Cowes.
Training off Egypt Point on the racecourse for the penultimate event in SailGP’s opening season, Fletcher and the British team comprising of Chris Draper, Stuart Bithell, Matt Gotrel, Neil Hunter and Richard Mason were the first ever to fly at a record speed of 50.22 knots on the 50-foot foiling catamaran. It is the equivalent to 58 mph and 93 kph.
Fletcher has said:
“We’re always trying to push the boundaries, and to be honest, it feels pretty wicked to get a notch up on Tom Slingsby.
“Cowes has a long history of hosting iconic sailing events and we knew this stretch of water, with the right conditions, could set us up well for breaking this record. It’s unbelievable how far sailing has progressed in the last few years and SailGP and these F50s really represent the next generation of our sport. We now can’t wait to hit it again in racing and really showcase these fantastic boats.”
With the British Team having promoted earlier in the day that they had reached 49.54 knots of boat speed, it wasn’t until SailGP data analyst Scott Babbage interrupted the team’s debrief to set the record straight. He reported that when the higher-frequency data was pulled off the F50, it was revealed that they had recorded 50.22 knots, making them the first SailGP team to break through the 50-knot barrier. The top speed was achieved in 19.3 knots of wind speed.
The Great Britain SailGP Team is set to take on rival teams from China, France, Australia, Japan and the United States on Saturday and Sunday in front of the SailGP Grandstand off Egypt Point, Cowes. All 6 teams will now be seeking to break 50 knots for the first time ever in a sailing race – truly setting the official record for SailGP – taking advantage of the strong sea breezes and tidal flows in Cowes.
The upcoming grand prix will mark the penultimate event in the championship’s 2019 inaugural racing calendar and the first in Europe. This action-packed season will conclude in Marseille, France, in September, where teams will compete in a breath-taking finale for the championship trophy and a $1million prize.