The first Speed:World:Cup of the 2008 season in Port St. Louis, France, ended with the victory of the defending world champions Alexandre Caizergues and Charlotte Consorti, both from France. An amazing start into the new season, with conditions from light winds up to hurricane force, and some impressive top speeds.

For the fourth time in a row, Port St. Louis proved to be a perfect competition venue. Even when the conditions have been light in the last year, this time PSL showed again the full potential of Plage Napoleon, one of the fastest natural speedsailing spots in the world.

After three days without wind during the qualification trials, the main event started on 01.04.2008 with a total of 39 riders from 6 nations. All eyes were set on the reigning wolrd champions from France, Alexandre Caizergue and Charlotte Consorti, as well as on outright speedsailing record holder Sjoukje Bredenkamp from South Africa.

The event kicked off at 11:00 hours in around 30 knots wind and flat water. The first speeds of around 37 knots showed that there is potential for more. The usual podium aspirants struggeled a little bit and the way was free for Rolf can der Vlugt (NED) to snatch the victory. In the ladies fleet, racing was very close as expected between Charlotte Consorti and Sjoukje Bredenkamp.
The second leg was started in 25-30 knots of wind, with the better end this time for Alexandre Caizergues ahead of Rolf van der Vlugt. Same picture in the ladies fleet, Charlotte holds down Sjoukje.

On day two, race director Marc Blanc tested the skills of the riders in a special way, sending them out for three legs. Alex Caizergues was the man of the day with three bullets in conditions of 30-40 knots of wind and a slightly better angle. Charlotte took two out of three victories, but all the races in the ladies fleet are very close between her and Sjoukje, and then Katja Roose (NED) clearly in third. In total, eight women took part in this first worldcup of the season, another record to beat now.

With five rounds in their legs, the riders were already tired, but there was more to come. The forecast only called for 25 knots, but the usual mistral wind pattern made everyone expect more.

Day three started with - almost no wind. But this changed quickly when the sand on Plage Napoleon started to fly at around 11:00 hours, and it should become a real epic day. After the experience from the first Port St. Louis worldcup in 2005, when the mistral hit the Camarque with full strength and let Finian Maynard fly to a new world record in 60-80 knots of wind, it was "only" gusting a bit over 60 knots on that special day - enough to bury several kites of the riders under tons of sand and to turn the timing caravan upside down.

Alex Caizergues set the mark of the day with a stunning 43.09 knots run, Sebastien Cattelan, Rolf van der Vlugt and Christophe Prin-Guenon hit this magical mark as well. In now up to 50 knots of wind not many riders made the way up to the starting mark, but for those competing it was a magical experience. Sjoukje Bredenkamp was leading the ladies competition for a long time, but only a few minutes before the end of the leg Charlotte Consorti snatched victory with respectable 34.5 knots.

After a longer break the second leg of the day was started at 14:30. The wind gusting 60 knots in the meantime, flying water and sand everywhere.

The speeds were not so impressive as in the first leg, as the water was really rough now and most runs ended up in bad crashes. Everything went well so far for dominating Alexandre Caizergues, until the timing caravan fell over in a heavy gust and the race had to be stopped for a few minutes. After reopening the course, Rolf van der Vlugt set the run of this leg with a personal best speed of 42.35 knots, Charlotte Consorti directly behind him with 36.39 knots, taking the lead in the womens top speed ranking.

As fast as the wind came, the fast it dissappeared again. Racing days four to six saw no more action on the water except some freesailing. So all action concentrated on the evening program, well organized by the PSL crew.

On the last day, the pricegiving was then held under blue sky in the evening sun in front of the Centre Nautique - a real hardcore competition came to an end, and not a single competitor will forget this special experience.

Final Rankings Men:
1. Alexandre Caizergues (FRA, 3.5 points, 43.09 knots)
2. Rolf van der Vlugt (NED, 9.7, 42.35)
3. Sebastien Cattelan (FRA, 17, 41.58)
4. Christophe Prin-Guenon (FRA, 19, 40.52)
5. Manu Taub (FRA, 26, 41.43)

Final Rankings Women:
1. Charlotte Consorti (FRA, 3.5 points, 36.39 knots)
2. Sjoukje Bredenkamp (RSA, 8.7, 34.47)
3. Katja Roose (NED, 15, 31.40)

Source: Speed:World:Cup