There is now under two weeks until the start of this years Lüderitz Speed Challenge. We'll be bringing you all the news and results from the event when it happens, but until then we thought we'd enlighten you on some of the facts and stats that are sure to pop up in your next pub quiz.
It was in 2004 that French kitesurfer Sebastien Cattelan, together with Sophie Routaboul (co-organizer of the event) discovered this now legendary speed location. This natural lagoon in the Namib Desert has all the qualities to become the top international speed sailing venue in the world. The warm desert winds accelerate through the surrounding hills and on reaching the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean thermal atmospheric pressure creates incredibly high wind speeds.
Speed Sailing has become an international inter-disciplinary sport. For many years an ongoing challenge existed between Windsurfers, Hydrofoil boats and kitesurfers to smash records - capturing the imagination of the media in a battle where speed barriers are constantly being broken.
The worlds first speed sailing record was set in 1975 by the British boat - the Crossbow - with a speed of 31,80 knots.
30 years on and it was Sebastien Cattelan who was the first person to break the mythical 50 knot sailing barrier on the 3rd October 2008.
In 2007 the very first Lüderitz Speed Challenge was held and existing speed sailing records were broken by kiters. The second fastest time in speed sailing ever was recorded. First place was held by windsurfer Finian Meynard from the Virgin Islands.
The second event, in 2008, saw kitesurfers break all existing speed sailing records and officially become the fastest sailors in the world. Changes were also made to the course including a 'chop killer' helping improve the 500m-water surface to ensure a smoother slide and increased wind speed angle.
In 2009 organizers decided to create a canal alongside the existing 500m speed strip to ensure flat water and a better wind speed.
Frenchman, Alexandre Caizergues used this to his advantage to set the kitesurfing record of 50.98 knots. He was beaten though to the overall speed sailing record by L'Hydroptere, traveling 51.36 knots.
Recently, a GPS (tool of measure) world record of 53,06 knots (98km/h over 500m averages) has been set in Lüderitz by Sébastien Cattelan. This proves the potential of the 2010 Lüderitz Speed Challenge, which always verifies speeds with the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council - www.sailspeedrecords.com, who officiates all speed world attempts.
This year plans have been made to widen the canal at the start as much as possible, making entry much easier. The sand taken from the canal will be laid up wind, creating a wall, for protection against chop created in the water at high tide.
And there you have it. On the off chance your pub quiz is mostly speed sailing themed, consider yourself having it already in the bag... or if you are the host, then we possibly have provided you with some truly challenging questions for you to use at will (cue evil laugh).
Perhaps this will be the year the 55 knot barrier is broken? We wouldn't bet against it. Keep up to date with it all here and visit www.luderitz-speed.com to learn more.
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