A close up of the land craft - the Greenbird on Lake Lefroy, Australia.


General FAQs

Q What is the Greenbird?
A The Greenbird is a British challenge on the land and ice world speed records, using wind power alone. On March 26, 2009 at Ivanpah Dry Lake, Richard Jenkins smashed the old land record of 116.7 mph with a new time of 126.2 mph, and now we're after the ice record too. More about The Greenbird.

Q Who holds the current records, and what are they?
A The former Land Record of 116.7 mph (188 km/h) was set on 20th March, 1999 in Prim, Nevada (USA) by Bob Schumacher (USA) in 'Iron Duck'. On March 26, 2009 at Ivanpah Dry Lake, Richard Jenkins smashed the old land record of 116.7 mph with a new time of 126.2 mph. The Ice Record has no official record, but it is generally reckoned to be around 80 mph. More about the ice record challenge and the land record challenge.

Q Are you using the same craft for both records?
A No - Due to the different requirements of the surfaces, specialist vehicles are required to cope with the unique properties of each medium. More about the crafts.

Q How do the vehicles work?
A All the crafts rely on solid sails, much like an aircraft wing. Just as airflow over an aircraft's horizontal wing pushes the aircraft up, the flow of air over The Greenbird's vertical sail pushes the vehicles forward. This force, combined with exceptional efficiency, enables the land craft to travel at between 3 & 5 times the real wind speed, depending on the surface traction. More about how they work.

Q When and where will the record attempt take place?
A The next attempt will be a ice record taking place in winter 2009/10 at Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana USA. Read more about the ice record location. On March 26, 2009 at Ivanpah Dry Lake, Richard Jenkins smashed the old land record of 116.7 mph with a new time of 126.2 mph.

Q Why is the attempt taking place in North America?
A Canyon Ferry Lake in Montana is internationally famous for its iceboating conditions, and provides us with the best possible chance at gaining a second world record. Read more about the ice sailing season.

Q Will you be carbon offsetting your travel to and from North America?
A Nearly 10% of all on-shore wind turbines in England today were planned and built by Ecotricity. We feel that the contribution made to the development of wind technologies via the record attempt, far outweighs the carbon produced in transportation of the vehicle and the team. The Greenbird itself will be shipped to America, reducing its carbon footprint significantly.

Q How do you decide daily whether to go for the record? And once conditions are favourable, what is actually involved with setting up and doing it?
A We set up the vehicle and it normally takes about a day to assemble and get all the settings and tolerances correct. After initial trials, if everything works well, we will declare that we are on 'official record standby'. This means that the vehicle is record condition and awaiting suitable weather conditions to challenge the record.

Read more on the ice record location and our record updates on our blog.

Q Why is the vehicle called The Greenbird?
A The achievement the land record has confirmed our claim to the greatness of British engineering. Last year, we decided to name the vehicle The Greenbird - a nod to Donald Campbell, the last British world record holder in his craft the Bluebird. Donald achieved incredible speeds in a golden age of fossil fuels - when oil was cheap and no one had thought that one day it would run out. Fast forward to today and we are coming to the end of the age of fossil fuels and the dawn of the age of Renewables. The Greenbird symbolises this historical watershed better than anything else. Cars of the future won’t be running on fossil fuels they will be running on Renewable sources of energy like the Wind. And with today’s technology we can achieve incredible speeds, using only wind power.

Q Why the sails are so differently shaped (ice craft v. land craft)?
A The sail shape and area is dictated by the amount of 'grip' you have on the surface underneath and the required acceleration.

On land (salt flats), the traction is low and we have a relatively large area in which to sail. This dictates a small (tall and skinny) highly efficient sail, which gives a higher top speed although poor acceleration. As we are only concerned about top speed and we have a large area, acceleration is not important on salt.

On ice, we have significantly greater traction (against slipping sideways) but a smaller area in which to sail. This means we need more power at slower speeds (bigger sail) to increase acceleration. As long as we can maintain grip at high speeds, the larger area should not affect the top speed. More on how it works.

Q How is the speed and record attempt actually recorded?
A The speed is recorded with high accuracy, on board GPS (global positioning system). We have a minimum of 4 separate systems on board, each recording the speed and position of the vehicle, up to 10 times per second. At least one system was provided by the official measurers who were present. These measurers, or time keepers, were from the North American Land Sailing Association, which is responsible for measurement of land sailing speed records.

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