September 09, 2009. A new world record - this is what everything is about in the bay of Hyères in Southern France. The trimaran "Hydroptère" is speeding over the Mediterranean sea. The airflow hitting the crew on board at wind force 7 is so strong that spray is stirred up feeling like slaps in their faces. Forces of nature pull at every part of the ship. However, the record is achieved: Hydroptère reaches a speed of 51.35 knots (about 95 km/h) and is thus considered the fastest sailing boat in the world for the distances of 500 and 1000 m.
This success was made possible by one man's ideas. Alain Thébault of France has been pursuing his dream of building the fastest sailing boat in the world for decades - a ship that moves so fast that it flies over the water. To make this dream a reality, Thébault has consistently relied on leading-edge technologies.
The developers of Hydroptère virtually reinvented ship building. Highly innovative materials, optimized design and many tests: Every component used in Hydroptère has been tested to achieve the objective - the world record. Here are a few examples:
- The Hydroptère team has developed the so-called "Hydrofoil" - a special material that withstands loads of up to 45 tons and achieves sufficient thrust without creating turbulence in the water.
- The ship's mast is made from titanium - and costs an impressive 400,000 Euro.
- The boat is made from carbon, the sails are woven from carbon fiber.
When bordering on the very limits of feasibility, using professional and powerful test and measurement equipment is a must.
The Hydroptère team therefore deliberately decided to use HBM's QuantumX measurement data acquisition system. Reliability, precision, quality: QuantumX is outstanding for these values - they are also crucial to Hydroptère's success. The high quality of measurement data therefore has significantly contributed to the further optimization of stability, speed, cavitation, aerodynamic drag, vibration and oscillation as well as the strength of the material used.
Hydroptère is among the first users worldwide to rely on the new CX22W data recorder from the QuantumX family. The device - featuring WLAN connection and touch-screen operation - is installed in the middle section of the boat and continuously saves measurement data acquired at different locations in the boat.
Damien COLEGRAVE, responsible for the test and measurement equipment on board: "We have been involved in the development of CX22W from the start and HBM has incorporated our feedback point by point. The idea of an "embedded PC" combining the benefits of the Windows world with the reliability of a rugged data logger has proven successful."
In addition, the measurement data acquisition system has been integrated into the mobile radio network. Data can easily be accessed from the office via a web browser for real-time analysis of trial runs. Optical and acoustic signals alert the responsible engineer as soon as critical load limits are exceeded - to facilitate a speedy and appropriate response.
Extensive analyses of the recorded measurement data are performed after each test. They enable conclusions to be drawn on the boat's response to swell, wind direction or positioning of the sails. The results are included in the computer simulation of the trimaran to simulate extreme conditions and further refine the mathematical model. This results in better prediction of the boat's most likely behavior.
Hydroptère uses the QuantumX amplifier system and, in addition, strain gages from HBM. The strain gages installed by HBM withstand high speed, sea water and vibration. Using the complete measuring chain from HBM involved many benefits, explains Damien Colegrave:
"Only by combining strain gages and precise data acquisition did we succeed in optimizing the boat's critical components. No experimental data had been available for such a prototype so far. Therefore, we have opted for a highly reliable measurement system and hence for HBM."
The Hydroptère dream goes on. New records, new goals are in sight. Alain Thébault intends to sail round the world in 40 days with an even huger hydrofoil trimaran. What seemed impossible in the past has come within reach - not at least thanks to the results of leading-edge measurement technology. "HBM has become part of the team, striving to make my dream come true and to build the fastest sailing boat of all times," Alain Thébault sums up.