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).

There are also several riders snapping at their heels, just off the 50-knot level, including privateers Jerome Bila and Sylvain Hoceini.

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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PKRA Chile 2008

Another fantastic day concludes at the PKRA 2008 World Tour in Matanzas, Chile dubbed Movistar Kiteboard World Cup 2008. The same weather condition as yesterday prevailed today with cloudy to overcast skies in the morning but bright, sunny weather in the afternoon.

The wind was also light during the first half of the day so the games started an hour and a half later than the original schedule of 10:30 a.m. Most of the competitors rigged their 9-meter kites during the start but went on to downgrade to their 7-meters later in the day.

In today’s notable heats, Maciek Kozerski (Naish, POL) was defeated by Michael Schitzhofer (JN, AUS) in a tough heat #27a with more powered moves, higher tricks and faster moves. Tom Court (North, GBR) defeated Andy Yates (Slingshot, AUS) in the same heat with a fairly solid run, landing a regular and switch mobe, back to blind air pass, kiteloop handle pass, slim, shifty 3, and a blind judge with aerial handle pass.

Yates on the other hand, landed a slim, 313 5, blind judge with aerial handle pass, back to blind air pass, front mobe and mobe to wrapped.

Alvaro Onieva (Best, ESP) took a decisive win over countryman Cesar Portas (North) in the 28th heat with more power and cleaner execution while Tom Hebert (Airush, New Caledonia) defeated Madison Van Heurck (Naish, USVI) in a super stylish heat, riding smoothly and more powered.

Alex Pastor (Naish, ESP) lived to fight another day and moved a step closer to challenging Mikael Blomvall for the 4th place overall by knocking out Shitzhofer in heat #29 with high technical difficulty score and better execution and Pastor in heat #30b. Russian Petr Tyuskevich then defeated Tom Court in the same heat with more varied tricks and a higher technical difficulty score.

The 30th heat saw Onieva pounced Hebert, riding super-powered moves and clean tricks, going against Hebert’s big moves with grabs. With a much lower kite throughout this moves plus more variation, Onieva took the heat win and moved on the next round only to be defeated by countryman Pastor who is bent on getting the 4th place overall win.

With a higher technical riding score, landing a regular and switch slim/back to blind air pass, mobe, front mobe, blind judge, and front mobe to blind, Pastor won the heat. However, his luck ran out in the 32nd heat when he landed hard on the water and hurt his ankle and headed back to the beach.

Pastor landed only a blind judge, mobe, non-inverted slim while his opponent, Sebastien Garat (RRD, FRA) landed a blind judge, hasselhoff, 313, s-bend to blind, slim and kgb thereby taking the win. Pastor settled for 5th place in the overall PKRA rankings as a result of his loss.

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