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The New Land Yacht Aiming to Break a Land Speed Record

America's Cup-winning Emirates Team New Zealand is attempting to break the wind-powered record

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Gif: Emirates Team New Zealand / YouTube

When I hear the term land yacht, the first kind of vehicle that comes to mind is either a full-size luxury sedan or an SUV. Could you imagine a Cadillac Escalade setting a land speed record? Not me. Though, there’s a new literal land-going sailing yacht looking to raise the bar. Emirates Team New Zealand, the America’s Cup-winning sailing team, has launched a land yacht to attempt to break the wind-powered land speed record later this year. The current wind-powered land speed is 126.1 mph (202.9 km/h), set in 2009.

Earlier this week, Team New Zealand officially unveiled its land speed record challenger, the Horonuku. The vehicle will be powered, for lack of a better term, by a 10-meter (32.8 feet) tall rigid carbon-fiber wingsail. The wingsail is designed to propel the land yacht up to 155.3 mph (250 km/h) if the conditions allow.

Glenn Ashby will pilot the vehicle. Ashby has won two America’s Cup Matches as a sailor with Team New Zealand. He said in a statement:

“There is definitely an element of needing the stars to align when achieving a world record like this where you need the conditions on the ground and in the air to be perfect. It is our job now over the next month or so, to get as much useful testing as we possibly can done here in Auckland, before we put Horonuku on a ship to Lake Gairdner to continue testing and tuning on the salt lake so we are ready to roll when a weather window comes along.”


Emirates Team New Zealand and the Horonuku are expected to make their record attempt in August on Lake Gairdner, a salt lake in South Australia. To break the record, all Ashby has to do is exceed 126.1 mph for three seconds during his run. The sailing team is also preparing for their next America’s Cup Match in 2024 in Barcelona, Spain.