Record-breaking speed sailor has plans for 'crazy boat'

    The world's fastest ever sailor
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    Story highlights

    • Paul Larsen piloted 'Sailrocket 2' to record speeds of over 65 knots
    • CNN Sport speaks to Larsen five years on
    • Sailor reveals even "bigger" plan in the pipeline

    (CNN)Walvis Bay, 2012.

    Flamingos soar over the Namibian coastline as the fastest sailor in history flies by at 78mph.
      A decade of work, unwavering belief and dedication to the cause is crystallized in a single record-breaking moment.
      Welcome to the Bonneville Salt Flats of speed sailing.
      Meet Paul Larsen, pilot of the Vestas Sailrocket 2.

      Five years on

      To this day, no other sailing vessel has exceeded 60 knots (69mph) over the 500-meter distance specified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.
      Having tipped speeds of 67 knots, Larsen and his team -- including Helena Darvelid and designer Malcolm Barnsley -- became overnight celebrities in sailing circles.
      Their sleek, 40-foot vessel -- featuring a carbon-fiber sail inclined at a 30-degree angle to the water -- still looks just as otherworldly as it did across the windswept shallows of Walvis Bay in 2012.
      And the 47-year-old Australian remains the outright sailing speed record holder over both 500m and a mile, five years on from blowing all competition out of the water.
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      Don't think he's since been resting on his laurels.
      Larsen has a new speed sailing project in the pipeline that he claims could be even bigger.
      "We're always looking for people who want to go on a crazy journey," he tells CNN Sport, taking some time out in Bermuda to watch the 35th America's Cup.
      "It's a big, asymmetric boat. A crazy boat ... Watch this space!"

      Sailrocket 3

      First there was SailRocket 1 — enshrined in sailing folklore after one of most dramatic boat crashes ever caught on camera — then came the vibrant orange SailRocket 2.
      Now Larsen is working on a vessel "capable of crossing oceans and thus sailing in all conditions at all angles."
      SailRocket 3 — otherwise known as "Brenda" — is set to be more versatile, capable of "significant payloads" and, most importantly, going "very fast."
      "I want to make a sailing concept that can do what nothing else can," said Larsen.
      "Simply going fast isn't that difficult; it just takes time and money. The fact is, there's simply so much still to be done with the interaction of wind and water."
      Larsen is confident even SailRocket 2 can stretch its current, validated performance to "well over 70 knots (80mph)."
      The development of "new, super cavitating foils" holds the promise of even more amazing speed potential, and SailRocket 2 is "tough as nails, stored in perfect condition and ready to roll when called upon."
      But SailRocket 3 could smash through the glass ceiling altogether and Larsen, remarkably, has motorboats in his sights.
      "I would love to see SailRocket 3, this wind-driven concept, take the Blue Riband trophy off huge powerboats," he says, alluding to the accolade given to the passenger liner that crosses the Atlantic Ocean with the fastest average speed.
      "It's believe that is doable. That would be something, eh?! From there, who knows how the concept could be applied..."
      Larsen offers the analogy of a jet engine in a world of piston-powered, propeller-driven aircraft.
      "Sure you can use it to go super fast, but ultimately its greatest application is subsonic," he explains. "It can carry payload high and relatively fast with incredible reliability. Now that's useful."
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      He envisages his concept transporting a number of passengers at high speeds, harvesting energy from the ocean while sailing.
      If his calculations are correct, the groundbreaking vessel will be able to sail 600 miles one day and motor for 600 miles the next -- zipping across the ocean powered by the energy recovered sailing and stored in batteries.
      "It really isn't unreasonable," says Larsen. "It takes time and money and the right people with the right vision and understanding."

      The plan

      The SailRocket 3 grand plan comprises three phases of development, starting with large scale model testing, moving on to intermediate size testing, before going full scale.
      Larsen anticipates the project will take between four and five years depending on the budget available.
      "The same small but tight team has helped me develop the concept to the point where we understand it enough to start looking for funding," he says.
      "This has included building the velocity prediction programs and doing preliminary structural analysis of key areas."
      The future could be upon us sooner than we might think.
      "Sure it all looks a bit crazy," jokes Larsen. "I appreciate that ... but we did 'crazy' pretty well last time!"