Moonshot #1: the speed sailing craft developed by Alex Caizergues' Syroco | Photo: Syroco

Alex Caizergues is the fastest sailboarder on the planet. But the French kiteboarder wants more.

The answer is Syroco's Moonshot #1, a high-tech speed sailing craft.

In 2017, during the Salt and Speed, a speed sailing event held in Salin-de-Giraud, France, Caizergues smashed his own sailboarding 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 is the fastest sailboarder on the planet, a category that mainly involves kiteboarders and windsurfers.

Above him, there's only one player - Vestas Sailrocket 2.

Vestas Sailrocket 2 is a high-performance B-division sailing yacht designed and piloted by Australian sailor Paul Larsen.

On November 24, 2012, the super boat sailed at 65.45 knots (121.21 kilometers per hour) over 500 meters in Walvis Bay, Namibia.

Now, Alexandre Caizergues wants to break a record that has remained untouched for a decade. The codename for his mission is Syroco's Moonshot #1.

Alex Caizergues: the fastest sailboarder on the planet | Photo: Syroco

What Is Syroco?

Syroco is a scientific and technical lab 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 feats and achievements.

The team is currently working specifically on economic and environmentally sustainable ideas for the maritime transportation system.

"We have a thirst for discovery," Alex Caizergues tells

"Our partners and crew are experienced professionals in entrepreneurship, engineering, naval architecture, and elite sports."

In other words, Syroco wants to think ahead of the limits imposed by current technologies and bring answers to the table.

Syroco: a a scientific and technical lab focused on generating innovative breakthroughs in maritime transportation | Photo: Syroco

The Birth of a Speed Sailing Obsession

In October 2010, kiteboarders Alex Caizergues, Sébastien Cattelan, and Rob Douglas traveled to Luderitz, Namibia, to set a new sailing speed record that each had already held in the late 2000s.

"We raced hard against each other, increasing the pressure and lowering the times, but the margin for progress was extremely tight - around 1/10th of a knot," notes the French kiteboarder.

Nevertheless, the kiters knew that they would, sooner or later, have mighty opponents aiming to steal the speed sailing records.

So, in 2012, the trio built a speed channel in Salin-de-Giraud, near Marseille, to set a world record in French territory.

"However, in a dramatic turn of events, in November of that same year, Vestas Sailrocket 2 shattered the record by sailing at 65.45 knots and adding ten more knots to the previous mark," recalls Caizergues.

The episode put an end to the kiteboarding speed sailing supremacy.

"We were already sailing at the limits of the technical and physical possibilities. So, it was no longer a sports challenge - it had become a technological game."

Caizergues was not giving up, though.

So, he sat down and reflected on a business model that could make his dreams and ambitions a reality.

It was no longer all about sports - it was also something that had to involve an entrepreneurial dynamic anchored on technologies, products, and even intellectual property.

The company's name - Syroco - is inspired by Sirocco, the powerful wind that blows from the deserts of Africa and is well-known by sailors in the Mediterranean.

Syroco's Moonshot #1: the speed watercraft will sail above the water's surface | Photo: Syroco

Moonshot #1: The World Sailing Speed Record Project

Moonshot #1 is Syroco's first and most visible project.

Caizergues and his crew are working on pushing the limits of sailing, and the results speak for themselves.

SurferToday sat down with the two-time world sailing speed record holder and quadruple kiteboarding world champion to learn more about the futurist, 007-like 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 applications of our technology in the industrial field.

We recently released a software platform based on a digital twin that helps cargo ship operators and builders measure and improves their fleet's energy efficiency.

For example, French container transportation and shipping company CMA CGM uses it to evaluate wind propulsion technologies for containerships.

Moonshot #1 by Syroco: the sailing craft uses a kite to propel itself at high speed across the water | Photo: Syroco

What exactly is Moonshot #1?

Syroco is developing a speed craft designed to shatter the world's sailing speed record with no carbon emission.

The target is 80.99 knots (150 kilometers per hour), and we will start the campaign in 2022.

What are the groundbreaking settings Moonshot #1 has from a design/architecture and engineering/materials perspective?

Interestingly, speed is much more closely linked to sustainability than it may appear at first sight.

For Moonshot #1's 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.

By using these variables, we can apply all the knowledge to a 40-foot leisure yacht powered by hydrogen or a containership's energy efficiency management.

We are actually involved in projects in both types of projects.

At the end of the day, better efficiency means less fuel consumption and/or improved economics for alternative energy deployment - hydrogen, electricity, wind, etc.

This is also our pragmatic contribution today to making oceans - and the atmosphere - cleaner and healthier.

Syroco: a company founded by entrepreneurs, engineers, naval architects, and elite sportspeople | Photo: Syroco

Who is backing up the speed sailing project, both financially and technically?

The speed record is backed by sponsors who seek to associate their brand with innovation, sustainability, and the energy transition.

Our latest sponsor who came onboard the adventure is the Swiss watchmaker Hamilton.

What is the most complex challenge when developing a world record-breaking speed craft?

There are many! I'll just mention two.

The first one is to maximize the efficiency of the only energy available to us: the wind.

For this, we are implementing a concept named "l'aile d'eau," with a perfect alignment of forces between the kite and the foil.

The second one is that the foil starts to cavitate as soon as we reach 50 knots, so we have to solve the cavitation equation.

How is Moonshot #1 different, for instance, from L'Hydroptère?

There are two main differences, apart from the fact that we'll go a lot faster - the alignment of forces and the fact that by flying above the water's surface, we are decreasing friction.

Syroco's Moonshot #1: the speed sailing tests will be begin in late 2022 | Photo: Syroco

What are the stages planned until the world record attempt?

Right now, we are testing a one-third-scale prototype of the speedcraft.

We expect to start the construction of the actual vessel in early 2022 and start the record campaign late in the year.

What are the features of kiteboarding and windsurfing applied to Moonshot #1?

We are actually closer to kiteboarding than to windsurfing.

In kiteboarding, the traction is generated by a kite wing, which is much bigger in our case: 20-50 square meters.

There is also an opposition of forces between the wing and the element in contact with water.

But unlike kiteboarding, all forces are fully aligned, removing the moment supported by the kiter between his harness and his feet.

When and where do you plan to put it to the test?

We plan to test it by the end of 2022, most likely in the south of France, where Syroco has its headquarters.

What will be the pilot's tasks sailing Moonshot #1 at 150 km/h?

It will definitely be controlling the kite wing and the foil. At 80 plus knots, these will be very demanding tasks.

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