Flying on the World's Fastest Sailboat

Long before foiling Moths and airborne AC72s, there was French sailor Alain Thébault and “the dream”—to create a sailboat that could fly, and in the process go faster than any sailboat had ever gone before. After years of trying—and many, many failures, some of them catestrophic—Thébault finally succeeded, setting a 500-meter speed record of 44.81 knots in 2007 and a nautical mile record of 43.09 knots in 2008. l’Hydroptère will also forever retain a place in history as the first true sailboat (as opposed to a kiteboard) to break the 50-knot barrier, after it hit a top speed of 56.3 knots on December 21, 2008. Since then, the boat has been reconfigured for offshore sailing. However, it has been stymied by weather in an attempt to set a new record on the storied Transpac course from Southern California to Hawaii. Thébault has also set off in a whole new direction, with what he calls iDroptere, a pure-speed vessel he hopes will someday go 80 knots or more. Only time will tell if he succeeds. However, given the tenacity with which Thébault pursued his first dream, it would be unwise to bet against him.