My uncle still thinks it is not possible, but we multihull sailors know this more than any other sailor. One can actually sail faster than the true wind on most points of sail – except dead downwind. Until now.
It’s one of the great ironies of sailing. Going dead downwind, arguably the “easiest” angle of sail, is also the slowest. Thanks to the phenomenon of apparent wind, modern boats regularly sail faster than the true wind speed on a reach. But on a run, there’s no getting around the fact that the faster you go, the less pressure there is on your sails—until BUFC (big ugly f…. cart) According to Rick Cavallaro, chief scientist at Sportvision Inc.—a company founded by renowned navigator Stan Honey—the exercise began as a fun brainteaser, namely “can you build a wind powered-vehicle that goes directly downwind, faster than the wind, steady state?” The result has been a “huge raging debate across literally dozens of internet forums” and a somewhat ungainly looking vehicle affectionately named the BUFC.