Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 11:46 UK

Bid for world land-speed record


The Greenbird team's Dale Vince tells BBC news about preparations in Australia for the record breaking attempt.

Two British men are preparing an attempt on the world land-speed record for a wind-powered vehicle.

Eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince and engineer Richard Jenkins will try to beat the record of 116mph (187kmph) at Lake LeFroy in Western Australia.

Their British-designed and built craft, named Greenbird, is carbon-neutral.

Mr Vince said the team were following in the footsteps of Donald Campbell who used several cars and boats named Bluebird to break speed records.

"Campbell did it with the prevalent fuel of the day - we're doing it with the prevalent fuel of tomorrow," he said.

"Donald Campbell had his massive cubic capacity engines and energy dense fossil fuels - we have just the wind.

"But the wind will still be here in 50 or 100 years time - the age of renewables has been a long time coming (back) but will endure."

The Greenbird is a land yacht which relies on solid sails like an aircraft wing.

'Wind window'

In the same way that air flows over an aircraft's horizontal wing and pushes the aircraft up, the flow of air over the Greenbird's vertical sail pushes the vehicle forward.


The Greenbird's predecessor is put through its paces in 2007

This force enables the craft to travel between four to six times the real wind speed, depending on the surface traction.

Mr Vince who will co-pilot Greenbird said he was "eight out of 10 confident" of breaking the record.

Members of the Gloucester-based Greenbird team are already in Australia testing the vehicle and preparing for the record run. Unseasonal weather has delayed initial trials.

"We need the weather to come right," said Mr Vince. "The lake is wet at the moment and it should be dry this time of year and we need the wind window which is coming any day now," he said.

"The lake is 500 sq km and is a salt lake so it's very flat and we can sail in any direction. It has some good wind as well but it's really the space we need."

The team also plans to make a challenge on the Ice World Speed Record, again using wind power alone.

Mr Vince said the team behind Greenbird were also working on a less exotic wind-powered vehicle that could be used for domestic journeys.

"Wind-powered cars are the way of the future," he said. "We're going to have our prototype on the road in December."

Blind man sets land speed record
11 Oct 05 |  Manchester
Land speed record bid abandoned
08 May 05 |  Science/Nature

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