Land Rover’s Engineering Supports Hannah White In Quest To Break World Sailing Speed Record

by Heather Platt | Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2015

Land Rover is supporting its Global Ambassador, Hannah White in her attempt to break the “World Women’s Nautical Mile speed record for a sailing vessel”. Engineers from the company will use their expertise in engineering and aerodynamics to enhance the design of the hydrofoiling monohull sailboat that Hannah will use in her record attempt in early 2016. The attempt will be overseen by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.


Land Rover is collaborating in the design and development of the purpose built sailboat, Speedbird, drawing from its strive for innovation, engineering expertise and advanced facilities in order to maximise performance of thesix-metre vessel, which has a carbon fibre hull weighing only 14kg.

Dr Daniel Wood, Aerodynamics Engineer at Land Rover, said: “This is a really exciting project for us, we are always looking at how we can use our expertise to ensure every design is fully optimised. Applying this knowledge and technology to other models, such as sailboats can be very effective in increasing speed and power. Using my experience with Formula 1 as an aerodynamicist, optimal performance for Speedbird will be achieved ensuring Hannah has the best chance possible of smashing the world record.”

Combining world-class engineering, state of the art facilities and engineering know-how, has enabled Land Rover to optimise the fluid dynamics of the hydrofoil stub sail for minimum drag while ensuring stability is maintained.  Working closely with Hannah and her team since January 2015, Land Rover’s involvement has already achieved a 32.3% drag reduction, a development that will have a significant impact on the success of the project and ultimately the breaking of the nine-year-old world speed sailing record. The current record stands at 34.7-knots and is held by British windsurfer Zara Davis, who set it in 2006.

Project Speedbird Technical Director, Dave Chisholm, said: “Through our collaboration with Land Rover we have unrivalled access to a highly capable engineering team with outstanding facilities. Using Land Rover’s state of the art equipment and unrivalled expertise in aerodynamics, we have been able to optimise the fluid dynamics of Speedbird’s hydrofoil and stub sail, finding the absolute pinnacle of performance. This was a crucial part of the challenge we face in achieving our goal of breaking the record.”

Hannah White, Land Rover ambassador, said “This is a huge, but exciting challenge for me. Since the moment Dave and I had the idea for Project Speedbird, I have been preparing mentally and physically. Now that I have put my training boat aside and I’m training in Speedbird, my programme has stepped up a gear. It’s more intense and we are working hard to ensure that both the boat and I are fully prepared for the record attempt in 2016. Whilst this is a personal challenge, I want to show people that if you work hard enough and really put your mind to something, anything is possible.”

Hannah will attempt to break the World Women’s Nautical Mile speed record at the beginning of 2016.  Between now and then, she will undertake a gruelling training programme and practice schedule to hone the skills required to break the record.

Land Rover has a long history with sailing and this summer, announced a global partnership with Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) ahead of its challenge for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017. As Title Partner and Exclusive Innovation Partner, Land Rover will work closely over the next two years with the BAR design and engineering teams to help deliver a winning combination of advanced engineering and innovative technologies in their bid to bring the oldest sporting trophy in the world home to Britain, the place where it all started with a race around the Isle of Wight in 1851. 2015 also sees the third year of a three-year sponsorship as Series Main Partner to the Extreme Sailing Series™, one of the world’s most exciting and competitive international sailing circuits.


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