|Alex Caizergues (F-One)|
Rob Douglas (Cabrinha)
Jernej Privsek (Jägermeister)
Felipe Johannpeter (Genetrix)
Melissa Gil (Cabrinha)
Tim Turner (Yellow Jersey Strategies)
|World kiteboard speed record: 50.98 knots|
USA outright speed sailing record: 50.95knots
Slovenia outright speed sailing record: 44.59 knots
Brazil outright speed sailing record: 42.14 knots
USA woman’s national speed sailing record: 38.00 knot
Australia national kiteboard speed record: 33.94 knots
November saw the third annual Lüderitz Speed Challenge, held in Namibia. Despite lighter winds than previous years (seldom exceeding 35 knots) it was the improved equipment and better technique used that saw kiteboarders obtain faster times than the stronger conditions in previous Speed Challenges.
Many competitors walked away with new records, most notably Alex Caizergues (F-One) who set a new world kiteboard speed record of 50.98 knots (94.4kph), just missing out by a fractional 0.38 knots of the current outright speed sailing record set by sailboat l’Hydroptère in October this year (51.36 knots).
Rob Douglas (Cabrinha) set a new USA outright speed sailing record of 50.95knots, and his colleague in the North American Speed Sailing Project, Melissa Gil (Cabrinha) set a new USA woman’s national speed record of 38.00 knots. Jernej Privsek (Jägermeister) improved on his previous years Slovenian outright speed sailing record with an impressive 44.59 knots, and Felipe Johannpeter (Genetrix) did the same establishing a new Brazil outright speed record of 42.14 knots. All records still to be ratified by the WSSRC.
The French competitors dominated the event for another year with Alex Caizergues, Sebastien Cattelan and Christophe Prin-Guenon leading the rankings. Fellow countrymen Jerôme Bila, Sylvain Hoceini and Manu Taub also had a strong showing with each of them regularly getting 45+ knot results. The South African's effort was impressive but unfortunately failed to reach the heights of last year.
Given a few extra knots of wind and l’Hydroptère's record would surely have been broken, but this wasn't to be and highlights the great drama of speed sailing. Skill, talent, equipment, technique, bravery and a great deal of practise all come in to play at these events. Perhaps though it is lady luck that inevitably proves the most valuable asset, determining the conditions of the water and wind for the competitors.
“We were very happy with how the Lüderitz Speed Challenge went this year - even with the world gripped by a massive economic depression we managed to run a successful speed challenge that attracted many of the world’s top sailors,” says Sebastien Cattelan, event organiser and leading speed sailing contender. “The challenge for next year is to attract more sponsors to take part in this ‘Formula 1’ of sailing. The Lüderitz Speed Challenge is the ultimate David vs Goliath competition of individual skill and bravery against large, well funded hi-tech sailboat teams.”