Swiss graduates build futuristic boat designed to beat sailing speed record

Swiss graduates build futuristic boat designed to beat sailing speed record

Former students of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have designed a futuristic boat with the aim of breaking the world speed record for sailing. They hope their craft will be able to reach a target speed of 80 knots or 150 kilometres per hour!

Current sailing world record is 65,45 knots

The speed that the team has to beat is the 65,45 knot (121,21 km / h) record set by Australian sailor Paul Larsen in 2012 - Larsen’s boat, the Vestas Sailrocket II, broke the sailing record over 500 metres. The Swiss team hopes to beat his record at a test in southern France in the spring of 2024. 

The team is headed up by former EPFL students Mayeul van den Broek, Xavier Lepercq and Benoît Gaudiot and their team of 50 in the port of Mies, Canton Vaud. The boat required two years of testing and creating prototypes until the current model - the SP80 - was born. 

Video: SP80 Record / YouTube

SP80 more like a rocket than a boat

Visually, the SP80 does not look like a conventional sailing boat. The structure is 10,5 metres long, 7,5 metres wide and has no sail - instead, the SP80 uses a kite to achieve top speed.

“Before we can go at 80 knots (almost 150 km / h), we have to get to know the behaviour of the boat and coordinate with the pilots", the team told Blick. "The aim is to get faster step by step by December 2023 before we go to the winter shipyard. Then, in spring 2024, we will return to Leucate in the south of France with an optimised boat to attempt a first-world record for speed under sail."

The project took hold in the minds of the three founding EPFL students back in 2016 while they were still studying at the university. In 2019, the company managed to acquire sponsorships which have helped make the project a reality.

Image: ©Guillaume Fischer via



Emily Proctor

Former Editor at IamExpat Media.

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