Alex Caizergues

November 1st was the first official racing day of the 2009 Lüderitz Speed Challenge. It began early with the event organizers helping prepare the timekeeping equipment to begin racing at 4:00 pm when the wind speed was expected to be at its highest. Nature wasn’t in a co-operative mood… similar to what happened last year, there was an unusually high tide covering the whole beach. This year, however, it also managed to break apart a big part of the chop-killer, so the first priority was to get that fixed.

Some fast thinking and faster action had everything ready to go in time. Though the wind was blowing fairly lightly - less than 30 knots – race officials decided to open the run regardless as it’s still great practice for the competitors. The wind peaked as expected at about 4:00pm and decreased gradually after that. The tide also began to recede as the wind began to drop and the racing finished up around 6:30pm.

Most riders were using their larger kites (10 to 11m2), but still managed to get well over 40 knots (which was a major achievement in perfect conditions only a few short years ago). Alex Caizergues, Rob Douglas and Christophe Prin Guenon led the field with 43.11, 42.92 and 42.10kt respectively.


Congratulations to Sylvain Hoceini who is celebrating his birthday. He turned 41, like the speed he managed to record today. Too bad he wasn’t turning 55!

The light conditions didn’t stop Felipe Johannpeter from setting a new Brazilian speed record of 38.15 knots (subject to ratification by the WSSRC). Congratulations Felipe!

Light wind is expected for the rest of this first week, so most of the riders are settling back to patiently (but nervously) await the next wind cycle.

Good news is that a lot of video is being produced about the various speed sailing events, allowing a global audience to witness the breaking of national and international records, both here in Lüderitz and beyond. Some great video footage of the first week of training was shot by Paul Railton of ‘Super Sport’ and has been put online (intro to the event with some stunning scenic footage and epic crashes, summary of Day 1). Now Paul is joined by a specialist team that has produced some outstanding documentaries on the life (and sport) aquatic, ‘Image Movement’.

The team of Gilles Boussion, Vincent Clap, Daniel Cherchi and Chloè Vallier have come down to Lüderitz to record footage from this year’s Speed Challenge for their feature on speed sailing. They have been following the current world outright speed sailing record holder, l’Hydroptère, as well as former long-time record holder, windsurfer Antoine Albeau, and the English sailboat contender, Sailrocket, which is arriving today from Walvis Bay, Namibia, after recording an unratified time of 49.3 knots. This film will be released in early 2010.

Here is a list of individual results from the day.
All times are subject to WSSRC ratification.


1-Alexandre Caizergues: 43.11 kts
2-Rob Douglas: 42.92 kts
3-Christophe Prin Guenon: 42.10
4-Sylvain Hoceini: 41.85
5-Jerome Bila: 41.48
6-Geoffrey Mascarell: 40.14
7-Taro Niehaus: 39.59
8-Manu Taub: 39.57
9-James Douglas: 39.36
10-Basil Cambanis: 39.14
11-Charlotte Consorti: 38.36
12-Paul Railton: 38.19
13-Felipe Johannpeter: 38.15
14-Tim Turner: 33.97
15-Peter Bjarke Olsen: 33.77


SOURCE: Luderitz Speed Challenge