What Is The Fastest Type Of Sail?

Sailing is a sport that has been around for centuries, and has seen many different ships and sails come and go, with each new design striving for greater speeds and efficiency on the water. But what is the fastest type of sail? The answer may surprise you!

Basics Of Sailing

Sailing requires a combination of skill, experience, and understanding to make sure that a boat is able to move efficiently through the water while also staying safe and stable in any conditions it may encounter.

Every sailor must understand some fundamentals, such as the effects of wind on a boat’s sails, in order to stay safe and have an enjoyable time on the water.

Types Of Sails

The type of sail used can have a major effect on how fast a boat is able to go. The most common sails are triangular sails (known as jibs or mainsails), gaff-rigged sails, spinnakers, and square sails (known as lugsails).

Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to sailing speed, so it’s important to understand which type suits different conditions best before setting off on any voyage.

Factors That Affect Sail Speed

The speed at which a boat can sail is determined by several factors, including the size and shape of the sails, the amount of wind that is present, and even the weight and size of the boat itself.

In addition, other factors such as surface drag from waves or currents can also affect how quickly a boat can move through the water. Understanding these factors can help sailors make sure they are using their sails in an efficient manner for maximum speed potential!

Historical Outright Record Holders

The outright record holder for fastest sailing speed over 500 meters has changed hands several times over the years since its inception in 1851 with different designs attempting to break this record each time they are tested out in competition or during research trials. Some notable examples include:

  • The ‘Bayard’, an 81-foot schooner designed by William Fife III set an outright record with an average speed of 15 knots in 1851,
  • ‘Pyefleet’, designed by Uffa Fox held onto this record from 1952-1962 with an average speed of 16 knots,
  • ‘Kontiki’, designed by Illingworth & Primrose achieved speeds nearing 24 knots before being beaten by another design in 1972,
  • ‘Enza’, designed by Bruce Farr held onto this record from 1984-1998 with an average speed reaching 33 knots,
  • ‘Green Dragon’, designed by Hugh Welbourne beat out Enza’s record with speeds reaching 35 knots in 1998,
  • ‘Loki’, designed by Dave Hollom achieved speeds nearing 43 knots before being beaten again in 2008,
  • And finally ‘Vestas Sailrocket 2’ holds the current outright record with an average speed reaching 65.5 knots set in 13 May 2022!

Vestas Sailrocket 2: The Current Outright Record Holder

The Vestas Sailrocket 2 (VSR2) was designed as part of a partnership between Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S and British sailing experts Paul Larsen & Malcolm Barnsley for a project known as Project Speedbird II (PSB II).

It was built specifically for setting world records at speeds over 50 knots! This highly advanced hydrofoil catamaran features two hulls connected by carbon fibre cross beams that support a pivoting wing mast carrying three Kevlar carbon fibre mainsails that can be adjusted while underway to maximize performance even more!

Design Elements Of The Vestas Sailrocket 2

The VSR2 was designed with several cutting-edge elements that allowed it to reach such incredible speeds over 500 meters:

  • Its two hulls feature foils which generate lift at higher speeds allowing it to “fly” over water like an aircraft instead of plowing through it like other boats,
  • Its three mainsails are made from lightweight yet strong Kevlar/Carbon Fibre material that can be adjusted while underway allowing sailors to maximize performance depending on conditions,
  • Its wing mast pivots between angles during turns allowing sailors to change course quickly without slowing down,
  • Its unique bow design features reverse chines which reduce drag for higher top speeds,
  • Its unique cockpit features two vertical fins which act together like rudders when turning to provide extra thrust from side winds
  • Its overall design provides stability during high-speed turns ensuring safety for its crew at all times!

Other Cutting-Edge Designs

  • In recent years there have been several other cutting edge designs attempting to break this outright sailing record such as:
  • The ‘Wind Challenger’ designed by Mike Birch & Dave Holman which reached speeds nearing 61 knots in 2018,
  • The ‘Foiling Cat’ designed by Mike Feeney which reached 64 knots in 2020,  
  • And several others attempting to reach speeds beyond 70 knots!

Future Of Fast Sailing    

With all these cutting edge designs attempting world records every year it’s clear that fast sailing will remain competitive for many years to come! It will be interesting to see if anyone can break VSR2’s current outright record set back in 13 May 2022 or if new designs will be necessary if we want achieve higher speeds than ever before!


To answer our original question: what is the fastest type of sail? It appears that currently Vestas Sailrocket 2 holds onto this title having set an outright record averaging 65.5 knots on 13 May 2022 beating out all other previous designs before it! However, there are still many competitors attempting faster records every year so who knows what will happen next? Stay tuned…

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *