Swiss Team Prepares to Break the Sailing Speed Record

Richard mille
Courtesy Richard Mille

Published Apr 23, 2021 1:11 PM by Ankur Kundu

Swiss engineering team SP80 is preparing an attempt to break the world sailing speed record, with their target for a first trial set for 2022. For this venture, they have partnered with renowned Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille. Apart from the sponsorship, carbon TPT material for the boat's structure will also be supplied by the company. Carbon TPT is a pre-impregnated material made exclusively for the cases of the brand’s top-end watches by North Thin Ply Technology.

"Fueled by the desire to achieve their goal, SP80 are ready to shake up sailing conventions. This same daring spirit has been guiding our brand for the last 20 years. In this young company, we see the effervescence of an enthusiastic and talented team,” said Tim Malachard, Marketing Director at Richard Mille.

SP80 was founded in 2018 by Xavier Lepercq, Benoît Gaudiot, and Mayeul van Broek. The three engineers share a common passion for kitesurfing, sailing of every kind and ocean crossings. Now SP80 includes a team of 40 engineers, along with students from EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne).

To break the world sailing speed record of 65 knots set in 2012, the SP80 team set out to find a completely innovative solution. This propelled them to find a new way to counter fluid friction: using a hull made entirely from Carbon TPT and propelled by a kite spanning 20 meters. The team has filed a patent for a power management system that transmits all the power from the kite to the boat’s foil while maintaining stability at high speed.

On first look, the structure of SP80’s vessel looks like a mixture of a boat, a plane and a Formula 1 car. The design studio has developed a special ‘super ventilated foil' that positions the sailing boat at the surface of the water to guarantee its stability at high speed. In doing so, this technology avoids cavitation, where water vaporized due to an excessive decrease in pressure affects performance.

“Richard Mille’s involvement in the SP80 adventure is a source of great pride and incredible motivation for our young team. It means that we can step up our development and begin building our sailing boat so that it can make its first journeys out to sea in 2022,” said Mayeul van den Broek, co-founder of SP80.