New ZealandRegatta

Land Speed World Record Attempt: a Record of the Records

World records are not broken every day, nor are they ever easy to achieve, but when they are there is usually a stringent process of verification that any attempt must go through.

While the recent World record for the oldest tandem parachute jump by 103 year old Rut Linnéa Ingegärd Larsson (Sweden) was verified by Guinness World Records, the Wind Powered Land Speed World Record has two governing bodies. There’s NALSA, (North American Land Sailing Association) and there’s also FISLY (International Land and Sand Yachting Federation).

Pilot Glenn Ashby has been working away in the background organising the required processes to ensure any attempt at the world record will be officially recognised.

“Both of those associations (NALSA & FISLY) can effectively ratify the result.” explained Ashby. Everything needs to be checked off by the official measurer that we will have on site. That judge, if you like, will also oversee the timing equipment and make sure that everything’s above board. We use a GPS system, a timing and a tracking system and there cannot be any stored energy as such in the craft. So every function that you do, whether it be steering or trimming the wing, all needs to be direct drive and provided only by human power. So all things being equal, we should have everything set up really well.“

For Ashby, as the pilot at record breaking speeds that will need to exceed 202.9km/h, his control is not much more than a two finger operation on a lever, some foot pedal pumps and some small steering adjustments when the craft is going really, really fast.

It isn’t just the craft itself that has stringent rules around it, the surface that ‘Horonuku’ will sail on is also restricted.
“The wind powered land speed record absolutely needs to be done on a natural surface. So it cannot be a tar sealed road or anything like that.

And that is one of the reasons we are heading towards Lake Gairdner in South Australia. The salt lake is completely natural, it is also a very, very flat surface as the rules also state that the course shall be within 3.3 feet (one metre) in elevation.

But on top of these two rule requirements we’re hoping that the location will provide us also enough grip on the surface and also the wind that will provide us power to go ahead and break this world record.”

There is also a rule specific to starting any speed run that says: “The yacht shall start from a dead stop without assistance from any external source other than humans, on foot, pushing” which means the wider Emirates Team New Zealand Land Speed team will literally be ‘hands on’ for any record run and Ashby knows this better than anyone.

“There’s been some amazing journeys throughout the course of history with wind powered craft. To be part of that history moving forward is a very, very special thing for all of us in this team and something that we hope we can leave our mark on at the top of…’ officially’ of course.”

There is one more key rule to keep in mind: The record speed must be more than one mile per hour (1.6km/h) for at least 3 seconds above the existing record to be beaten.

So the minimum target to exceed for a World Record run is in fact 204.5km/h for Glenn Ashby in Horonuku to become the fastest wind powered craft on land- ever.

16 May 2022

Project Speed: ‘Horonuku’ Ready to Wind Powered Land Speed World Record Attempt

Image courtesy Emirates Team New Zealand

Emirates Team New Zealand and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei today christened the land yacht to be used in their Wind Powered Land Speed World Record attempt as ‘Horonuku’ in front of team members and land speed suppliers and supporters at their base in Auckland. 

As has become a significant and valued part of Emirates Team New Zealand culture, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as the iwi manaaki of the team have again named and blessed the craft in its endeavour to be the fastest wind powered craft in history.

‘Horonuku’ means gliding swiftly across land. Horo means fast or swift movement and nuku is connected to over earth or land.

Marama Royal, Chair of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust said, “The name Horonuku captures the purpose and vision of this challenge to pilot this innovative machine to record-breaking speeds over land. For 30 years Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as iwi manaaki has been side by side supporting Emirates Team New Zealand in their successes here in Tāmaki and on the team’s numerous offshore adventures. Over this time we have shared our tikanga and traditions that make Aotearoa unique and once again we are honored to bless and name Horonuku today.”

Image courtesy Emirates Team New Zealand

Piloted by Glenn Ashby, the craft is ready to begin its New Zealand based testing phase at the RNZAF base at Whenuapai in West Auckland where Horonuku will be taken through a series of structural and systems tests over the next few weeks.

For Ashby the day is a very proud day and one step closer to a childhood dream to become the fastest man on land powered by the wind. “I have only been back in New Zealand for two weeks and in that time Horonuku seems to have come off a computer screen and been put together ready to go. I can’t speak highly enough of the design team and the craftsmanship of the production team in creating this amazing craft.”

The design of Horonuku is for out and out speed, the target is the World Wind powered Land speed record currently held by Britain’s Richard Jenkins, whose ‘Greenbird’ land yacht hit 202.9 km/h in 2009.

“Richard’s record will not be easy to beat,” said Ashby. “There is definitely an element of needing the stars to align when achieving a world record like this where you need the conditions on the ground and in the air to be perfect. It is our job now over the next month or so, to get as much useful testing as we possibly can done here in Auckland, before we put Horonuku on a ship to Lake Gairdner to continue testing and tuning on the salt lake so we are ready to roll when a weather window comes along.”

“We hope that today’s blessing and naming of Horonuku with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, the team and supporters of the land speed project will help us to align those stars for our eventual record attempt.”

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