Kitesurfers try to reach the 100 kph mark in Luderitz

October 8, 2008 | Kiteboarding

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.

The 50-knot barrier – the “four minute mile” of the speed sailing world – has been breached, and now the challenge is on to be the first human to sail at 100kph, and faster. l’Hydroptère achieved a peak speed of 52.6 knots on Sunday 5th October, and the kitesurf speed sailors have reached significantly more.

GPS records of the recent record-beating runs show Rob Douglas reaching 54.3 knots, Alexandre Caizergues 55 knots, and Sebastien Cattelan hitting an astonishing 58.3 knots peak speed. 

In an age where climate change, environmental degradation and the harnessing of renewable energy resources has become so important, speed sailing has become a showcase of how humans can still strive for excellence, in a way that does not pollute or waste.

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