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SAILING: Larsen feeding his speed need
ASK anyone to name the world’s fastest man on two feet and you would be hard pushed to find someone who didn’t know it was Jamaican Usain Bolt.
But ask them who holds the sailing world speed record and few would be familiar with Paul Larsen.
In his custom-made Vestas Sailrocket 2, Larsen, who was born in Australia and has lived in Weymouth for eight years, clocked 65.45 knots – just over 75mph – on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast last November.
That gave him the 500-metre record and on the same trip he also broke the previous best over a nautical mile.
And the 43-year-old has been feeding his need for speed a lot closer to home at Weymouth Speed Week, which is being held at Portland Harbour and comes to a climax tomorrow.
Larsen has been a regular at the event for some time and although there were no record attempts on this occasion, the Ferrybridge resident is still keen to see what other people are coming up with to whiz across the waves.
“I love all this stuff and you can’t keep me away from anything like this,” he said.
“I came down here nine years ago and the project we had then turned into a speed sailing record-breaker.
“There are people here that have the same target and it’s exciting to see what others are developing.
“Speed Week is a great event because I don’t think a lot of people know much about speed sailing as it’s always been on the fringes.”
Larsen has no doubts that his records can be beaten but for him and his team, safety is paramount and that is one of the key areas in his latest project.
He told Echosport he has no immediate ambitions of trying to better those speeds he achieved off Namibia, but would think twice if someone came along and took them out of his hands.
And he certainly isn’t someone who is looking for success on what most people see as sailing’s big stage.
“I like watching the Olympics but it’s not something I want to do,” he added. “I’m much happier on a beach in the south west Atlantic waiting for the wind to pick up to go out on the water.
“The Olympics and America’s Cup don’t interest me in terms of competing in them, but I would love to be able to sail across the Atlantic faster than someone in a powerboat.
“If I’ve got time off, I can never seem to sit still and am always drawing up plans and making models for our next project.”
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