Team New Zealand attempt land speed record

Team New Zealand helps a champion sailor achieve a childhood dream with a world record attempt.

Glenn Ashby on Lake Gairdner in South Australia
Photo: Emirates Team New Zealand

Glenn Ashby, a longtime member of the New Zealand team, is behind the attempt to break the world wind land speed record.

Growing up in Bendigo, Australia, Ashby dreamed of going faster than anyone else, propelled by the wind.

Speed ​​has always been at the center of Ashby’s existence, on yachts, motorcycles or land yachts.

The quest for speed has earned her three America’s Cups, an Olympic silver medal and 17 world championships in four different boat classes.

Now, in a downtime ahead of the next America’s Cup campaign, Ashby has convinced the New Zealand side to try something different.

Team New Zealand has always commissioned external contracts to keep the design team strong and engaged during these times.

So when the independently funded project to attempt to break the world wind land speed record emerged, it was not difficult to find designers, engineers and shore crews willing to put their talents to use. race, from being the fastest on the water in the America’s Cup to being the fastest on land ever.

The speed record attempt had been discussed for a number of years by Ashby and Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton, who himself had a long-standing interest in such a record.

Team New Zealand's Land Speed ​​Vehicle

Photo: Emirates Team New Zealand

Ashby has been at the end of dozens of Zoom calls to the Team New Zealand base unable to return to New Zealand for the past 10 months.

A core group consisting of Guillaume Verdier, Romaric Neyhousser, Benjamin Muyul, Jeremy Palmer, Romain Gard, Tim Meldrum, Sean Regan, Adrian Robb, Jarrod Hammond and Dave French worked on the new design and engineering challenges entirely focused on breaking the existing record. 202.9 km/h set in 2009 by Richard Jenkins at Greenbird.

“As we did our research and delved deeper and deeper into the intricacies of the design challenges, it became very evident that Richard has truly done an amazing job with his world record design.” Ashby said.

“As a team, we explored some pretty creative and innovative design ideas in the quest for more speed, but in the end, our design and performance principles evolved into a reasonably similar concept in basic layout to the existing record holder, which really underlined for us what a huge challenge this will be.”

Without a silver bullet in terms of breakthrough design, and quite as predicted at the 37th America’s Cup with the next generation AC75, the gains will come down to small improvements and refinements that add up to progress and success. global.

“As with the America’s Cup, we just have to do better at all levels using our experience, skills and tools acquired as a team to date,”

“And then, like sailing, there are always the weather gods and we do everything we can to be ready when the right conditions come to the venue.”

Team New Zealand manager Matteo de Nora, who is a big supporter of the world record attempt, makes it clear why now is the time to take on the challenge.

“We are now seeing very close collaborations where the design crosses into Formula 1 territory with Ineos Britannia and Mercedes and Alinghi and Red Bull Racing to start,” he said.

“It is no coincidence and focuses on top speeds and lessons that can be learned the faster you can go. an important factor in the AC36.”

Emirates Team New Zealand Wind Land Speed ​​World Record Design and Planning

Design and planning of the New Zealand Team Wind Land Speed ​​World Record
Photo: Emirates Team New Zealand

The obvious element of uncertainty and point of difference for all Team New Zealand designers is the tire technology and the dynamic forces associated with the tires on the ground, as opposed to the hydrodynamic forces on the foils in the water.

“That’s the big unknown for us,” explained Tim Meldrum, mechanical engineer at TNZ.

“Tires on a flat salty surface going over 200km/h are very different to foils in the water at over 50 knots. The rules say we have to ride on a natural flat surface. The best we know where it can be windy are dry salt lakes.Because the tires are the only point of contact with the salt, it’s a pretty big factor in finding the sweet spot to maintain enough grip, with the least amount of rolling resistance.

Another conflicting issue with the norm in the America’s Cup concerns weight.

In AC75s, the less weight in the boat, the easier it will be to fly and the faster it will be.

With a sand yacht, weight is an advantage in some ways according to construction manager Sean Regan.

“In landspeed, weight will be our friend if it’s used in the right place. That way we can refine our construction techniques that account for the extra weight in certain aspects and not be so focused on weight savings. On the stabilizer nacelle we actively add weight or ballast to counter the force of the wind on the wing sail otherwise the craft would tip over This is not something we want for Glenn approaching speeds too high.

It’s these kinds of design issues that will need to be overcome in the generally condensed prospect of a world record shot in July or early August that Ashby and the team are trying to attempt on one of the vast salt lakes of Australia with Lake Gairdner. in South Australia or Lake Lefroy in Western Australia as potential locations.

Any world record must be rigorously verified and will require North America Land Speed ​​Association officials to measure and record the race with a specific set of rules that must be met to qualify for the world record.

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