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.

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KTA Tour

After a quite day three, which focused on fun/demo wakeboard sessions and riders clinics from Dimitri Maramenides newly of Epic kites and Maelstorm, the final day saw a complete change of wind again and this time it would be blasting!

Riders and spectators alike were treated to competition riding at its best with a wind speed average of 26-28kts throughout the day once it started to blow through. With the course racing already in the bag from the earlier days, the final day was able to concentrate and complete all its freestyle competitions. So the day would see the first KTA Greater China comp for local riders, the KTA women’s freestyle and the completion of the double eliminator for the men.

All rounds had their great moments that produced screams and shouts of support from the Chinese crowds, most of who had never seen kiteboarding before. Great performances were put in by Zhoung Bin Xin, Lin Wen Liang and Zhang Huabao as they battled their way through the local event, with Bin Xin in the end taking the top place as China’s first freestyle winner.

Great performances also from the women were to follow and although there was not a high number of entries, it was good to see the girls put up a strong performance, with Hill Siu from Hong Kong taking the honours.

By the time the international men’s freestyle event hit the water to complete the second part of the double eliminator the wind was now at times gusting towards the mid 30kt area, although it settled down once more for the majority of the heats.

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Alex Caizergues

The winds on Wednesday went nuclear. Hennie, Basil, Sebastien, Alex, Charlotte, Christophe, Manu, Sophie and Tim all hit the water. Brave, because the wind was gusting to almost 55 knots.

Everyone experienced the biggest challenge for speed-sailing with a kiteboard: while almost no other watercraft can race in wind as strong as this, it brings its own limitations. Going really, really fast is easy (for a highly trained expert…). Crashing very hard is even easier.

The challenge is to make it down the whole 500m at peak speed. The wipe-outs today were spectacular.

Conditions on Wednesday were perfect to reach incredible speeds, though. All the competitors were feeling an electric sense of anticipation about the competition. They were all training hard – focusing on the best techniques for handling the very strong wind. Equipment is also better than last year, the shapes of the boards are different, and much improved.
 
Some quotable quotes and peak speeds:

Hennie Bredenkamp (58 knots): “electric, it’s my best speed ever!”
Alex Caizergues (59.5 knots)
Basil Cambanis (52.5): “I went maybe too late in the water”
Sebastien Cattelan (61.8 knots): “It was spectacular. We hope to push the limits further and maybe to break the outright record again. The dream gave me wings to run the event and motivated me to ride like never before.”
Sophie Routaboul (40 knots)
Charlotte Consorti (43 knots)

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