Alex Caizergues is the fastest snowboarder on the planet. But the French kitesurfer wants more.
The answer is Syroco’s Moonshot #1, a high-tech sailboat.
In 2017, during Salt and Speed, a speed sail event held in Salin-de-Giraud, France, Caizergues broke his own windsurfing record.
According to the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSR), the wind sports athlete sailed at 57.97 knots (107.36 kilometers per hour) over 500 meters.
In other words, he’s the fastest snowboarder on the planet, a category that primarily includes kitesurfers and windsurfers.
Above him there is only one player – Vestas Sailrocket 2.
Vestas Sailrocket 2 is a high performance B division sailboat designed and piloted by Australian sailor Paul Larsen.
On November 24, 2012, the super boat cruised at 65.45 knots (121.21 kilometers per hour) for 500 meters in Walvis Bay, Namibia.
Now, Alexandre Caizergues wants to break a record that has remained intact for a decade. The code name for his mission is Syroco’s Moonshot #1.
What is Syroco?
Syroco is a scientific and technical laboratory focused on generating innovative breakthroughs that can be applied in industrial sectors.
The company, founded in 2019 by Caizergues, Bertrand Diard, Florent Boutellier, Yves de Montcheuil and Olivier Taillard, aims to push and develop new solutions through pioneering exploits and achievements.
The team is currently working specifically on economic and environmentally sustainable ideas for the maritime transport system.
“We crave discovery,” Alex Caizergues tells SurferToday.com.
“Our partners and crew are experienced professions in entrepreneurship, engineering, naval architecture and elite sports.”
In other words, Syroco wants to anticipate the limits imposed by current technologies and bring answers to the table.
The birth of a fast sailing obsession
In October 2010, kitesurfers Alex Caizergues, Sébastien Cattelan and Rob Douglas traveled to Luderitz, Namibia to set a new sailing speed record that each of them had already held in the late 2000s.
“We raced hard against each other, increasing the pressure and lowering the times, but the room for improvement was extremely tight – around 1/10th of a knot”, notes the French kitesurfer.
Nevertheless, the kiters knew that sooner or later they would have powerful opponents aiming to steal the sailing speed records.
Thus, in 2012, the trio built an expressway in Salin-de-Giraud, near Marseille, to set a world record on French territory.
“However, in a dramatic turn of events, in November of the same year, Vestas Sailrocket 2 shattered the record by sailing at 65.45 knots and adding ten knots more to the previous mark,” Caizergues recalled.
The episode ended kiteboarding’s supremacy in speed sailing.
“We were already sailing at the limits of the technical and physical possibilities. So it was no longer a sporting challenge, it had become a technological game.”
Caizergues did not give up, however.
So he sat down and thought about a business model that could make his dreams and ambitions a reality.
It was no longer just sport, it was also something that had to involve an entrepreneurial dynamic rooted in technologies, products, and even intellectual property.
The company name – Syroco – is inspired by Sirocco, the powerful wind that blows from the deserts of Africa and is well known to sailors in the Mediterranean.
Moonshot #1: The World Sailing Speed Record Project
Moonshot #1 is Syroco’s first and most visible project.
Caizergues and his crew are working to push the boundaries of sailing, and the results speak for themselves.
SurferToday spoke to the two-time world speed sailing record holder and four-time world kiteboarding champion to learn more about the futuristic Type 007 speed watercraft.
What are the main projects Syroco is working on?
The world sailing speed record, of course!
But beyond this Moonshot #1, we are studying the applications of our technology in the industrial field.
We recently launched a software platform based on a digital twin that helps operators and shipbuilders to measure and improve the energy efficiency of their fleet.
For example, the French shipping and container shipping company CMA CGM uses it to evaluate wind propulsion technologies for container ships.
What exactly is Moonshot #1?
Syroco is developing a speed vessel designed to break the carbon-free sailing speed world record.
The target is 80.99 knots (150 kilometers per hour), and we will start the campaign in 2022.
What are the breakthrough parameters of Moonshot #1 from a design/architecture and engineering/materials perspective?
Interestingly, speed is much more closely related to durability than it might seem at first glance.
For the Moonshot #1 speed record, we developed equations, numerical simulations, tools and unique expertise that optimize the use of wind energy and decrease parasitic forces such as drag.
Using these variables, we can apply all the knowledge to a 40-foot hydrogen-powered pleasure yacht or to managing the energy efficiency of a container ship.
We are actually involved in projects in both types of projects.
Ultimately, better efficiency means less fuel consumption and/or improved economy for the deployment of alternative energies – hydrogen, electricity, wind, etc.
It is also our pragmatic contribution today to making the oceans – and the atmosphere – cleaner and healthier.
Who financially and technically supports the speed sail project?
The speed record is supported by sponsors who seek to associate their brand with innovation, sustainability and the energy transition.
Our latest sponsor to embark on the adventure is the Swiss watchmaker Hamilton.
What is the most complex challenge when developing a world record speed machine?
There is a lot of! I will cite just two.
The first is to maximize the efficiency of the only energy we have: the wind.
For this, we are implementing a concept called “the water wing”, with a perfect alignment of forces between the wing and the foil.
The second is that the foil starts cavitating as soon as we reach 50 knots, so we have to solve the cavitation equation.
How is Moonshot #1 different from, for example, L’Hydroptère?
There are two main differences, apart from the fact that we will go much faster: the alignment of forces and the fact that by flying above the surface of the water, we reduce friction.
What are the steps planned until the world record attempt?
Right now we are testing a 1/3 scale prototype of the fast craft.
We plan to start construction of the actual ship in early 2022 and launch the record campaign at the end of the year.
What are the features of kitesurfing and windsurfing applied to Moonshot #1?
We are actually closer to kitesurfing than windsurfing.
In kitesurfing, the traction is generated by a kite wing, which is much larger in our case: 20-50 square meters.
There is also an opposition of forces between the wing and the element in contact with the water.
But unlike kiteboarding, all the forces are perfectly aligned, removing the moment borne by the kiter between their harness and their feet.
When and where do you plan to test it?
We plan to test it by the end of 2022, most likely in the south of France, where Syroco is headquartered.
What will be the tasks of the pilot navigating Moonshot #1 at 150 km/h?
It will certainly be about controlling the kite wing and the foil. At over 80 knots, these will be very demanding tasks.