It took 10 years, but Richard Jenkins — a British engineer from Hampshire — has broken the land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle.
The Ecotricity Greenbird, on the dry plains of Ivanpah Lake just south of Las Vegas, hit a record breaking 126.1 mph. A speed which is 10 mph faster than the previous record which was set by American Bob Schumacher in 1999, driving his Iron Duck vehicle.
And I think the Daily Mail couldn’t have said it better when they called Jenkins the fastest naturally powered human on the planet.
“It’s great. It’s one of those things that you spend so long trying to do and when it actually happens, it’s almost too easy,” Jenkins told the BBC. He went on to say that “things couldn’t have been better.”
The Greenbird is made of carbon fibre composite and powered only by the wind. The only metal is in the wing bearings and the wheel units. For photos, video and audio of the car, go here. Here’s a satellite view of the dry lake, which straddles the California-Nevada border.
The designers say it’s a “very high performance sailboat” but one that uses a solid wing instead of a sail to generate movement. “Greenbird weighs 600kg when it’s standing still,” said Mr Jenkins. “But at speed, the effect of the wings make her weigh just over a tonne.”
Due to the shape of the craft and the high speeds, the wings also provide lift. Good for aircrafts, bad for cars! To compensate for this, the designers have added small wings to “stick” the car to the ground, in the same way Formula 1 cars do.
But Jenkins isn’t just intersted in land-speed records, he has also build a wind powered craft that travels on ice! “Now that we’ve broken the record, I’m going back on to the ice craft. There’s still some debate as to whether travelling on ice or land will be faster,” he said
Jenkins has a pretty endearing thank you on his blog, check it out. Congratulations Jenkins, we look forward to your next record breaker!