Arguably the most advanced data analysis provider for performance yacht racing, SailingPerformance has been a technology partner of Syroco for some time now. Cyrille Douillet, founder and CEO, just joined the team of technical advisors who support Syroco’s efforts in cutting edge areas.
Cyrille recently had the opportunity to spend time with the team and get a first row view of the progress. He kindly shared his impressions.
So last week I spent a couple of days in Syroco's offices and shed in Marseille, France. A couple of familiar faces from previous America’s Cups were there to greet me. Their goal is plain and simple: breaking the 150km/h barrier on the water, thereby crushing the current world sailing record. Their solution is simple too. Well on paper at least. A manned aerodynamic capsule flies a kite, hovering above the water, while an 'inverted' underwater foil tied to the capsule by a cable keeps them from flying out in the sky. Simple goal: achieve equilibrium between the kite and the foil. No rudders, no wings, no hydraulics... simple.
They have asked SailingPerformance to join them in their madness as an external adviser on data processing. What an honour! We've helped them create a custom data solution, with a mix of our 'old-school sailing' tools and cool new ones (InfluxDB, Grafana, etc...).
I was given the chance to go on the water with them during one of their foil testing sessions. A scaled-down version of their capsule would get pulled around the Marseille harbour, hung down from a rig mounted on their chase boat. They spent the afternoon playing with different foil setups, occasionally crashing the suspended capsule back to sea. But then it happened, all of a sudden the foil went straight to its optimal location, the capsule lifted out of the water, and then stabilised about 1m above the water. Amazing.
This project really has wings, and I was impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the small team of engineers. At this stage, the thought of putting someone in this capsule sounds a bit hairy, but wow does the future on the water sound exciting!