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Polycarbonate Powers Sailboat’s Attempt to Set World Speed Record

A sailboat powered solely by the wind that glides across the water at a speed of 80 knots (92 mph) — this is what the designers of the SP80 speedboat promise. The vessel will have its first “test drive” along the French Mediterranean coast this summer. The goal: To set a new world speed record for sailboats. As a member of the Record Club, the SP80 team’s partner network, the Exolon Group is supporting the development and construction of this sustainable speedboat.

Both weight and safety play a major role in achieving the desired speed record. The cockpit is made of 12-mm-thick solid polycarbonate (PC) sheets manufactured by Exolon Group and thermoformed by French company Vitalo/Starplast. The lightweight, highly transparent sheets provide optimal visibility, and are designed to be extremely impact resistant and to withstand environmental conditions. The sheets can be hot and cold formed, meaning they can be adapted optimally to the aerodynamic requirements of the boat.

The SP80 is 10.5 meters long and 7.5 meters wide and has space for two pilots. Together with the sail and power module, the cockpit is one of the three most important elements of the sailboat.

The development plan for the SP80 project as a whole is also innovative. The contracting company is working in cooperation with EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne), which enables the engineers to develop the boat in collaboration with scientists and engineers from the renowned Swiss university while students learn from the process.

The team is confident the SP80 will reach its goal during initial tests this summer and break the current world speed record of 65.45 knots (75 mph), which was set in 2012. The actual record-breaking attempt is planned for 2024.

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