New Zealand's wind-powered car breaks the land speed world record

New Zealand’s wind-powered car breaks the land speed world record

(Wellington) A New Zealand-based sailing team announced Monday that it has broken the world land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle, reaching 222.4 km/h in Australia.


The aerodynamic machine, dubbed a “horonoko” – which means “quickly sliding over the ground” in Maori – was piloted by Glenn Ashby, a member of New Zealand’s America’s Cup team.

On-board computers recorded a speed much higher than the previous land record of 202.9 km/h set by British engineer Richard Jenkins in 2009.

This new feat has yet to be verified by the International Sand Yachting Federation (FISLY) before it can be confirmed as a record.

“Obviously, my team and I are thrilled that we managed to sail the Horonoko faster than anyone else before driven solely by the wind,” said Ashby, adding that “more wind and better conditions” would improve that performance.

Team principal Matteo Di Nora argued that the record time was the result of improved aerodynamics, construction methods and materials.

The Oakland-based team was tackling the land speed record as part of their preparations for their America’s Cup title defense. Ocean Sailing Queen will take place in Barcelona in 2024.

“What is often underestimated is that the technologies we explore in challenges like this one – or in the America’s Cup campaign – are ultimately the foundation of tomorrow’s technology.” Mr. de Nora confirmed.

The high speeds reached by Glenn Ashby on Sunday night on a salt flat in South Australia came during a period of fine weather, after several frustrating months where heavy rain often delayed the test site.

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“With rain and no wind in the forecast, we were on a tightrope,” said Australian-born Ashby, the 2008 Olympic sailing silver medalist.

“You can’t achieve such a result without a great team around you and a little help from Mother Nature,” he continued.

Mr Ashby is confident Horonoko can go faster in 2023, after the Christmas break and once the expected period of light winds has passed.

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