The Phoenicians had no idea when they pioneered sailing. The great naval battles throughout history would have turned out completely differently had this technology been available then. Even those who have cruised or raced on monohull sailboats of any size or design have absolutely no idea what this is like! The sensation of speed, the mind-boggling acceleration and yes, the flirtation with the border of your lifespan all contribute to the adrenalin-junkie-high these boats offer. Watching them sail alone stirs a true sailors loins! It's downright visceral.

Tempting Thanatos isn't mere hyperbole, either. This past week, the 72-foot America's Cup catamaran Artemis Racing capsized in San Francisco bay. Olympic Gold Medalist Andrew "Bart" Simpson died when the cat capsized and he became caught underwater beneath it. Artemis syndicate CEO Paul Cayard says that everyone involved in the group is completely devastated. Like most life-threatening sports, you never let the potentials ruin your fun.

The AC72 cats run at speeds in excess of 40 knots around a race course in San Francisco Bay. But the  French trimaran, Hydroptére, qualifies as the current world sailing speed record holder at more than 50 knots over a kilometer course. However, Hydroptére races offshore and plans to break the California to Hawaii speed record. It will take a sustainned average speed above 17.21 knots for 2215 56.3 knots (104.3 km/h; 64.8 mph). She followed that feat with her world-record speed run of 50.17 knots (92.91 km/h; 57.73 mph).

So yes, screaming across the water at warp speeds (for sailing vessels) must be truly thrilling. But unlike monohulls where you may have a more than a few moments to relax, take a deep breath, enjoy dinner, read while off watch, on these boats, you focus every second or you potentially pay the ultimate price! I can accept that. I love risky endeavors myself. But it 's very hard for me to imagine what kind of techno-breakthroughs could possibly be next to improve ultimate sailing performance!

Christine A Tedesco
11/17/2016 11:28:36 pm

Approx 59 miles an hour on a sailboat?!? I hope Steven Hawkins is wrong. The human race needs time to make this technology affordable. Nevermind the cat on the sail...I'm in!!!

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    Dean Travis Clarke is a licensed captain, author and has spent more than a quarter century as a highly respected marine journalist.

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