Speed Dream: The quest for the fastest monohull on the planet

In 2008 world-renowned adventurer Richard Branson tried to break the current transatlantic monohull sailing record of 6 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes, 39 seconds on his 100′ Super-Maxi yacht Virgin Money, but had to abandon his attempt when the boat started to break apart in the middle of the ocean.

Illustration providing a fairly accurate representation of the SpeedDream design concept' Speed Dream

Illustration providing a fairly accurate representation of the SpeedDream design concept' Speed Dream

So, is it possible to beat what Branson calls ‘one of the greatest records of all’? Can a sailboat reach speeds in excess of 50 knots in stormy open-ocean conditions? Is it possible to cover 1,000 miles in a single day under wind power alone? Can the performance gap between offshore monohulls and multihulls be bridged?

Radical boat designer Vlad Murnikov believes the answer to all of these questions is yes and is assembling a new international team of designers, engineers, adventurers, and sponsors to prove it. ‘The SpeedDream Team,’ says Murnikov, ‘will comprise specialists with diverse expertise in offshore racing yachts like Volvo 70 and Open 60, multihull and powerboat design, hydrodynamics, structural engineering, and advanced composites.’

The team’s two-year quest is to build the fastest monohull sailboat on the planet. ‘Not simply to beat the existing transatlantic record,’ Murnikov says, ‘but to shatter it by more than a day! And then we’ll go on to challenge other world records like the transpacific and nonstop circumnavigation records.’

Murnikov is certain that, with the right crew and weather conditions, his boat will cross the Atlantic in record time reaching top speeds in excess of 50 knots. ‘With sustained speeds averaging 40-45 knots, SpeedDream will certainly break the 24- hour monohull speed record and could conceivably break the 1,000-miles-in-a-day barrier. No other sailboat has ever come close to this before,’ he says.

Murnikov was designer and project leader of FAZISI, Russia’s first-ever entry in the Whitbread Round the World Race, the premier oceanic sailing competition in the world, now known as the Volvo Ocean Race. In the 1989-90 Whitbread Race, not only did the remarkable FAZISI with its crew of novice sailors, overcome impossible odds to place 11th in a field of 23, it posted the next-to-longest 24-hour run racking up a then-incredible 386 miles in a single day.

Murnikov says his unique SpeedDream concept improves upon the once- revolutionary FAZISI blueprint and advances the scientific art of boat design into uncharted territory. Taking full benefit of cutting-edge ideas, materials, and technologies, his finished boat will feature an extremely light 100 feet long hull weighting only 18 tons. It’s slender triangular shape with super-sharp wave- piercing bow will possess extremely low water resistance and will cut through waves without pitching, slamming, or slowing.

Awesomely high speed will result from efficiency, not just raw power. A canting keel on an 18-foot strut and specially designed hydrofoils will provide ample stability to carry a generous sail plan on a 120-foot carbon fiber mast. Since, at fast speeds, the deck will submerge frequently, it will be sculptured to shed water quickly, reduce resistance, and provide sufficient protection for the crew.

Other aspects of the SpeedDream project are as innovative as the boat’s design. Novel TV coverage is envisioned to maximize sponsor exposure and marketing return on investment. Equally original will be SpeedDream’s approach to crew selection and training, ensuring that the best international sailing talent will be on board to unleash the craft’s ultimate potential.

Illustration providing a fairly accurate representation of the SpeedDream design concept' Speed Dream

Illustration providing a fairly accurate representation of the SpeedDream design concept' Speed Dream

Technical Data
Overall length -100ft.
Waterline length -100ft.
Maximum beam -20ft.
Waterline beam -10ft.
Displacement 18 ton
Ballast 9 ton
Sail Area (main + genoa) – 480 sq.m
Sail Area downwind – 1100 sq.m

Technical Aspects
The performance potential of the SpeedDream boat could be best demonstrated by comparison to the Volvo 70 – today’s fastest monohull. A typical Volvo70 has Displacement/Length ratio D/L=40 and Length/Beam ratio L/B=6. In relative terms SpeedDream is much lighter and longer with an amazing D/L=17 (!) and L/B=10.

This means that her resistance at high speeds will be significantly lower, yet she will be twice as stable as the Volvo 70, enabling her to carry a much more powerful rig. Unlike the Volvo70 that has to perform well in a wide variety of conditions – light and heavy winds, upwind and downwind sailing – the SpeedDream performance optimization will be focused on the narrow band of wind speed (moderate to heavy) and apparent wind (close reach, beam reach and occasionally, broad reach).

Boat will always sail with a constant heel angle (around 15-20 degrees) and her hull, appendages and sails will be designed accordingly.

Preliminary estimates show SpeedDream capable of reaching top speed in excess of 55 knots and maintaining 40-45 knots for extended periods of time.