Melissa Gil

The Speed Strip was opened yesterday at 2PM to take advantage of the incoming tide to give competitors as much time on the water as possible. Many of the bravest took chances in marginal water conditions at the start, having to sail perfectly judged lines to stay in the deeper water. Even a fraction of a second of lost concentration or unfortunate choice of racing line meant a hard crash – and these were legion, with numerous awesome face-plants at over 40 knots.

Wind never picked up more than around 30 knots, but it was super-steady, and conditions on the run were glassy-smooth.

Leading the men was Christophe Prin Guenon (F One) with an excellent 46.88 knots, and Rob Douglas (Cabrinha) on his heels with a best of 46.54. This shows how much the equipment and technique has improved over last year – getting over 46 knots would have been a brilliant achievement in perfect race conditions last year, now competitors are reaching these speeds even on moderate days.

The difference between 46 knots and 50 is massive, however – and every knot faster than 50 is an exponentially harder velocity to achieve. But the possibility of beating l‘Hydroptére is within the kitesurfers’ reach. All they need now is strong wind.

Charlotte Consorti (F One) led the ladies, with many runs over 40 knots (best 40.48). Sophie Routaboul (Genetrix), who was a novice only a year ago, set a personal best of over 37.85.

Melissa Gil (Cabrinha) set a new woman’s US national speed record of 37.57 knots, beating the record of Meg Mackenzie set 14 years ago in Fuerteventura.

Forecasts for later this week are promising, and everyone is holding thumbs for a grand finale to the 2009 Lüderitz Speed Challenge.


SOURCE: Luderitz Speed Challenge