About us

Our vision

We are a team of EPFL engineers and students who believe that through the combination of sailing, kitesurfing and engineering principles, we will significantly outperform the standing World Sailing Speed Record.

In this endeavour, we are imagining unique solutions and novel concepts that we think also have potential in the sailing world. By establishing a new record we want to demonstrate a new set of tools with applications in fast marine transport, offshore sailing or energy production.

This vision is the foundation upon which we are now building a boat capable of reaching 150 km/h (80 knots) with the wind as its sole source of power.

Our organisation

Created in 2018, the project is composed of 2 entities : the SP80 company owns and manages the overall project and the SP80 student association furthers our link with the EPFL community.

Our partnership with EPFL is beneficial to both parties: students get the chance to contribute to a challenging project which will make better engineers out of them, and the SP80 team gains access to a talent pool of creative minds as well as the school’s facilities. We believe that with the correct balance of novelty and experience we will sail above 80 knots.

SP80 story

©Guilain Grenier – www.hydroptere.com

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The inspiration

The Hydroptère was the first boat in history to sail above the mythical 50 knot (92 km/h) speed barrier.

Imagined by the French sailor Eric Tabarly and developed by Alain Thebault, notably in collaboration with EPFL, the Hydroptère is a legendary boat that has inspired a generation of sailing enthusiasts.

The same can be said of Mayeul, Benoit and Xavier; witnessing this feat propelled speed sailing to the forefront of their young minds and planted the desire to someday make their mark in sailing history. This dream would inspire the SP80 project a few years later.

The triggering factor

Driven by their passion, Xavier, Mayeul and Benoit pursued studies in mechanical engineering at EPFL, the place that helped build the Hydroptère.

They met while working on the Hydrocontest: a design competition in which radio-controlled boats are tested for their speed and energy efficiency. That year, EPFL’s contender was an ambitious foiling boat that happened to have been built under the supervision of Robin Amacher, a former engineer of Hydroptère’s design team.

Working with someone that had been an active member of the Hydroptère project, Xavier, Mayeul and Benoit’s dream had never felt any closer.

The three of them decided to take the leap and start an independent project.

©Chloé Jobert – SP80

©Mediacom – EPFL

©Hydrocontest – EPFL

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©Chloé Jobert – SP80

©Chloé Jobert – SP80

©SP80

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The beginning

Their complimentary profiles and positive experience with Hydrocontest encouraged them to take on their own challenge. Xavier as engineer, Benoit as kitesurfer and Mayeul as sailor.

They start working on the idea of fitting kitesurfing boards with super-ventilated fins. The concept of super-ventilated profiles was an interesting matter because they had notably been used by Paul Larsen on board Vestas Sail Rocket in 2012 to beat Hydroptère’s speed record and reach a staggering 65 knots (121kmh). In the following years however, super-ventilation’s uses hadn’t been further developed for sailboats. 

After manufacturing super-ventilated fins thanks to the support of the NTPT carbon fiber, trials were conducted in the south of France. After only 3 runs, Benoit reached 41 knots, confirming that this profile had massive untapped potential that could be unlocked using a kitesurfing sail. 

These promising results set the trio’s minds at work, and they quickly realised that a kitesurfer’s speed is restricted by the load that the body can withstand; augmenting the kite size will make you go faster, but at some point you will be overpowered. Replacing the human link between the foil and the kite with a rigid body, such as a boat, should dramatically increase its loading capacity. Armed with this theory, Xavier set to work on a proof of concept. During the next few months, he coded a simulator demonstrating the project’s feasibility. The results were the only confirmation they needed, and thus SP80 was born, with the ambitious goal of reaching 80 knots.

The organisation

2019 marked a turning point for SP80.

SP80’s first sponsorship, P&TS, allowed the three founders to formalise the project and implement an official structure.

EPFL also pledged its support to the team as a scientific partner. This collaboration enabled SP80 to gain access to top research infrastructures as well as invaluable insight from professors, and gave EPFL students the opportunity to join the team. 

As a result, the student association was founded in addition to the company, adding 20 more volunteer engineers and students to the team.

A team truly began to come together to create the world’s fastest sailboat.

©Alain Herzog – EPFL

©Schreyer – P&TS

©Mediacom – EPFL

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©Guillaume Fischer – SP80

©Guillaume Fischer – SP80

©Adrien Ninin – SP80

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The road to 80 knots

The project, now well underway, continues to expand and develop. The entire team, made up of more than 35 members, is set on the following objectives: launch the SP80 boat in 2021 and beat the World Speed Sailing Record in 2022.

During the course of this year, a first 4m long prototype will be tested to validate the boat’s fundamental concepts before final construction.

©Guilain Grenier – www.hydroptere.com

2
0
0
9

The inspiration

The Hydroptère was the first boat in history to sail above the mythical 50 knot (92kmh) speed barrier.

Imagined by the French sailor Eric Tabarly and developed by Alain Thebault, notably in collaboration with EPFL, the Hydroptère is a legendary boat that has inspired a generation of sailing enthusiasts.

The same can be said of Mayeul, Benoit and Xavier; witnessing this feat propelled speed sailing to the forefront of their young minds and planted the desire to someday make their mark in sailing history. This dream would inspire the SP80 project a few years later.

©Chloé Jobert – SP80

©Mediacom – EPFL

©Hydrocontest – EPFL

2
0
1
6

The triggering factor

Driven by their passion, Xavier, Mayeul and Benoit pursued studies in mechanical engineering at EPFL, the place that helped build the Hydroptère.

They met while working on the Hydrocontest: a design competition in which radio-controlled boats are tested for their speed and energy efficiency. That year, EPFL’s contender was an ambitious foiling boat that happened to have been built under the supervision of Robin Amacher, a former engineer of Hydroptère’s design team.

Working with someone that had been an active member of the Hydroptère project, Xavier, Mayeul and Benoit’s dream had never felt any closer.

The three of them decided to take the leap and start an independent project.

©Chloé Jobert – SP80

©Chloé Jobert – SP80

©SP80

2
0
1
8

The beginning

Their complimentary profiles and positive experience with Hydrocontest encouraged them to take on their own challenge. Xavier as engineer, Benoit as kitesurfer and Mayeul as sailor.

They start working on the idea of fitting kitesurfing boards with super-ventilated fins. The concept of super-ventilated profiles was an interesting matter because they had notably been used by Paul Larsen on board Vestas Sail Rocket in 2012 to beat Hydroptère’s speed record and reach a staggering 65 knots (121kmh). In the following years however, super-ventilation’s uses hadn’t been further developed for sailboats. 

After manufacturing super-ventilated fins thanks to the support of the NTPT carbon fiber, trials were conducted in the south of France. After only 3 runs, Benoit reached 41 knots, confirming that this profile had massive untapped potential that could be unlocked using a kitesurfing sail. 

These promising results set the trio’s minds at work, and they quickly realised that a kitesurfer’s speed is restricted by the load that the body can withstand; augmenting the kite size will make you go faster, but at some point you will be overpowered. Replacing the human link between the foil and the kite with a rigid body, such as a boat, should dramatically increase its loading capacity. Armed with this theory, Xavier set to work on a proof of concept. During the next few months, he coded a simulator demonstrating the project’s feasibility. The results were the only confirmation they needed, and thus SP80 was born. ; with the ambitious goal of reaching 80 knots.

©Alain Herzog – EPFL

©Schreyer – P&TS

©Mediacom – EPFL

2
0
1
9

The organisation

2019 marked a turning point for SP80.

SP80’s first sponsorship, P&TS, allowed the three founders to formalise the project and implement an official structure.

EPFL also pledged its support to the team as a scientific partner. This collaboration enabled SP80 to gain access to top research infrastructures as well as invaluable insight from professors, and gave EPFL students the opportunity to join the team. 

As a result, the student association was founded in addition to the company, adding 20 more volunteer engineers and students to the team.

A team truly began to come together to create the world’s fastest sailboat.

©Guillaume Fischer – SP80

©Guillaume Fischer – SP80

©Adrien Ninin – SP80

2
0
2
0

The road to 80 knots

The project, now well underway, continues to expand and develop. The entire team, made up of more than 35 members, is set on the following objectives: launch the SP80 boat in 2021 and beat the World Speed Sailing Record in 2022.

During the course of this year, a first 4m long prototype will be tested to validate the boat’s fundamental concepts before final construction.

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