World's best at Lüderitz Speed Challenge

Luderitz Speed Challenge

From 15 September to 13 October 2008, kitesurfers and windsurfers that are passionate about speed sailing will meet for the second edition of the 'Lüderitz Speed Challenge' in Namibia.

Mission: beat the outright speed sailing world record over the official 500 metre distance which currently stands at 49.09 knots…and even break the mythical 50 knot barrier.

Discovered in 2004 by French professional kitesurfer Sebastien Cattelan, the bay in front of Lüderitz has long been ridden only by a small handful of local windsurfers. It is located in Namibia, and since 2007 has had a growing reputation as one of the world’s best speed sailing sites. Indeed, in that same year in Luderitz, young French kitesurfer Alexandre Caizergues broke the World Kitesurfing Speed record of 47.92 knots, the third best overall speed of all time.

From 15 September to 13 October, more than 20 riders are expected at the start for runs of 500 metres which put them in line for the record books.

Manu Taub, Alexandre Caizergues, Sebastian Cattelan, Rob Douglas and Sjoukje Bredenkamp, the current outright female world speed sailing record holder (42.35 knots in Luderitz last year), are running as favourites amongst the kitesurfing contenders that can reach these phenomenal speeds.

On the windsurfering side, Bjorn Dunkerbeck, the Terminator, the multiple world champion who is in great shape at the moment, will be competing with the ambition of breaking the blistering outright world record of 49.09 knots. This record was set earlier this year by Frenchman Antoine Albeau on the Sainte-Maries de la Mer 'trench' during the Masters of Speed event.

Commented Sebastien Cattelan and Fred Dasse, two French expatriats living in Cape Town, South Africa, and the owners of ESF EVENTS, the event organiser:

Fred Dasse: 'It has always been a dream of mine to organise international sailing competitions. I have windsurfed for 30 years, spending my childhood in West Africa and travelling widely in my life. When I dropped my suitcases in South Africa, I decided to create this event with Sebastien Cattelan.. In the first edition, last year, we quickly had many runs over 44 knots, and at the end the famous record of Alexandre Caizergues. This year, we have decided to set the bar higher, with a more elaborate structure and the arrival of the windsurfers at the starting line. I am personally delighted to welcome Bjorn Dunkerbeck, multiple world champion. We are very confident. Kitesurfers have already gone over 50 knots on GPS. I believe that everything is in place to make it possible to reach the 50 knot barrier, although it will require a number of critical parameters to be met. If there is a record, it will be validated by the officials of the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC), it’s good news.'

Sébastien Cattelan (personal best : 46,71 knots): 'This event is mostly an adventure between kitesurfers and windsurfers, rather than just a competition, because the spot of Lüderitz is such a magical place. It is hidden between a restricted diamond area and a Nature Reserve. We discovered it in 2004, after a trip to the Walvis Bay Speed Week in Namibia, where we had tip-offs from local windsurfers. When we arrived there (a ten hour drive from Cape Town), we quickly understood that its situation was exceptional for world speed record attempts. The wind is very strong (very often over 40 knots) and it arrives at the right angle to the beach. In fact, it’s a one kilometre wide bay and over seven kilometres long. Last year we sailed on a run that had a curved shape. This year, we have managed to dig a straight line along the shore, without any chop, which improves speed. We dug and positioned sandbags upwind of the run, which will allow windsurfers and kitesurfers alike to evolve their performances. What’s fantastic about this spot is the possibility of doing 50 runs a day thanks to the exceptional wind and temperature conditions. This allows us to fully test our equipment. We can compare this to Formula One, technical setup is very important in speed sailing. I am convinced that a record will be broken in this edition because in kitesurfing we are going very, very fast in training sessions, and the level of the competitors is very high. We will also take the opportunity to run the third leg of the PKRA Speed Sailing tour.'

All the news from the event, information about the competitors and more is available at www.luderitz-speed.com.