After the 36th America's Cup victory in 2021, the stars aligned for Emirates Team New Zealand to aim for the current World Wind-powered Land speed record. The attempt took shape when the passion for speed of Grant Dalton – Emirates Team New Zealand CEO – and the childhood dream of Glenn Ashby -  a key team member for over 10 years – met the expertise in the technical and research industries of Team Principal Matteo de Nora. In a few weeks, they put together the core group that, just over a year ago, started working through the new design and engineering challenges entirely focused on beating the existing Speed World Record.

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    THE RECORD: 202.9 km/h (126.1-mph)

    The Wind Powered Land Speed World Record is currently held by Britain's Richard Jenkins, whose 'Greenbird' land yacht hit 202.9 km/h (126.1-mph) in 2009 across Ivanpah Lake, a dry lake in the California's Mojave. It took him ten years to achieve the result.

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    World records attempts must undergo a stringent verification process with either NALSA (North American Land Sailing Association) or FISLY (International Land and Sand Yachting Federation).
    - Must be sailed on a natural surface with a flat elevation within 1 metre of elevation
    - Starting only by human push start allowed for the record run
    - The record speed must be more than one mile per hour for at least 3 seconds above the existing record (>204.5km/h x 3")

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    THE CRAFT: Horonuku

    'Horonuku' - meaning gliding swiftly across the land - has been conceptualised, designed and built by Emirates Team New Zealand. A one-of-a-kind 14-metre hard-winged land yacht with no engines. It's all about wind. Instead of a conventional sail, Horonuku uses a rigid wing that produces thrust, as an aeroplane wing produces lift. The entire craft is built of carbon composite materials, aside from the metal parts used in bearings for the wing and the wheels. 

    Length (long mode) = 14.2m
    Max Beam = 8.2m
    Wing height from ground = 11.1m
    Wing = tailplane actuated unstayed rigid wing spar
    Total Mass (incl max ballast) = 2800kg
    Power = wind only, no stored energy allowed
    Wheels = 2x inline rears 18", 1x front and 1x pod 15"
    Construction = vacuum-formed carbon fibre epoxy sandwich panel main body elements
    Controls = steering from wheel, brakes/tail flap trim function from foot pedals/hand levers

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    THE PILOT: Glenn Ashby

    Born in 1977 in Bendigo, Australia, Glenn is a long-time Emirates Team New Zealand member with an outstanding sailing career that includes, among others, three America's Cups, an Olympic silver medal and 17 World Championships in four different classes of boat.

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    To face the design and engineering challenge of Horonuku’s endeavour to be the fastest wind-powered craft in history, Emirates Team New Zealand had to put together a few of their best member. Together with Team Principal Matteo de Nora, the core group consists of naval architects Guillaume Verdier, Romaric Neyhousser and Benjamin Muyul, Mechanical/Structural engineers Jeremy Palmer, Romain Gard, Tim Meldrum, Adrian Robb and Jarrod Hammond and shore crew members Sean Regan and Dave French.

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    THE LOCATION: Lake Gairdner, Australia

    Lake Gairdner is located about 440 kilometres northwest of the state capital of Adelaide and 150 km from the nearest town along dusty outback roads. The lake is over 160 km long and 48 km across, with salt over 1.2 metres thick in some places. The usually bone-dry salt lake in South Australia had 50mm of water in it in July due to abnormal weather conditions. About 100mm of water evaporation is expected each month, and as summer approaches, this will only increase. As will the winds, with October expected to be the windiest month of the year in the location.

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    It's a technical and tactical challenge as highly contingent on weather and conditions. Constant evaluation and plan adjustments are essential to ascertain the perfect weather window to attempt the record. Just a few knots could equal success or failure. Approximately 30 to 35kts of wind and a dry surface are crucial elements to have a chance of breaking the current record. 'Horonuku' needs about 7km distance to go from a standing start to full record speed.


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