Luderitz Speed Challenge 2008 

The Lüderitz Speed Challenge 2008 is finished, and it was a triumph, both for the competitors, who broke almost every record there was to break, and for the organisers, ESF Events, who not only proved that the speed strip in Lüderitz is one of the best speed sailing destinations in the world, but that a world-class, WSSRC sanctioned event could be successfully run here.

The Lüderitz Speed Challenge 2009 is already being planned, and will likely run over four weeks in October next year. The media coverage of this event has been phenomenal – specialist speed-sailing Websites, monthly sailing magazines, general sports periodicals, prime-time television. To see some of the coverage highlights, visit the “Media” section on Luderitz-speed.com.

“This event has been fantastic in every way. We achieved what we came to do – to break the 50 knot barrier and set a new world record in Lüderitz. We also saw every competitor sail faster than they’ve ever sailed before. The speed strip here has massive potential – we have only just started. We are looking at new ideas for the chop killer, other strips that can provide windsurfers great sailing, and getting a better idea of how the wind and tides work here to get the best possible conditions to take us to the 100kph level and beyond,” said Fred Dasse of ESF Events.

After the red flag went up to end the sailing yesterday, Sebastien Cattelan and the Netherlands' Rolf van der Vlugt stayed out to see what could be done as the wind suddenly picked up even more in the late afternoon. On GPS they both far exceeded the current records, with Cattelan going over 60 knots peak speed, and 54 knots average over 250m! With the right conditions, there is no end in site for how much faster speed sailors can go at the second lagoon in Lüderitz.

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Luderitz Speed Challenge 2008 

Today is the last day of strong wind, co-operative tide, and time... the Luderitz Speed Challenge sees the last of the racing today, with the official closing ceremony tomorrow (Friday).

Today is going to be a huge battle, with the top riders Alex Caizergues (FRA), Rob Douglas (USA) and Sebastien Cattelan (FRA) going all out to get (or keep!) the title of the world's fastest sailor.

The 50 knot barrier has been broken, and now these three riders are separated by only 0.05 knots (50.57, 50.54 and 50.52).

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Luderitz Speed Challenge 2008 

The last week has seen plenty of news on the speed sailing front, with ultra-yacht l’Hydroptère managing to crack the 50-knot peak speed with a peak of 52.86 knots.

The yacht is still some way off from maintaining the 50 knot average speed over a full 500m that is required for a record, but it is getting faster every day.

Interest in the sport is growing, with massive media coverage of the record-breaking runs in Luderitz, both in sailing press and the mainstream media, from prime time television to national daily newspapers (TF1, CNN, l’Equipe).

Support from the other disciplines of speed sailing to the contenders at the event in Luderitz has been solid, with messages of support from Christophe Simian, the manager of the Canal Des Saintes Maries de la Mer in France, where so many speed sailing records have been set by windsurfers, and congratulations messages to new world record holder Alexander Caizergues from Alain Thébault, captain of l’Hydroptère.

The sport of speed sailing is growing in several directions – course sailing, long a popular pastime in the windsurfing world, is becoming very popular for kitesurfers in the US and Europe, already with two hundred or more people competing in events, and growing fast.

GPS speed sailing (where sailors carry GPS receivers to determine their speeds over a run) is also growing rapidly as equipment becomes more affordable, making the sport accessible to more people in both windsurfing and kitesurfing.

And then, at the pinnacle of sporting performance and equipment technology, true speed sailing under WSSRC rules has captured the imagination of sailors and sports lovers, who can admire the fearless adventure of trying to go faster than anyone else in the world.

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