Speed sailing has become an international and interdisciplinary sport which includes kite surfing, wind surfing and sailing|

Speed sailing has become an international and interdisciplinary sport which includes kite surfing, wind surfing and sailing. For many years the different sailing disciples have competed to smash record -capturing the imagination of the media in a battle where barriers are constantly being pushed.

In 1975 the 40 knot barrier was broken. It took until 1987 for windsurfer Erik Beale to break that record. It took another 20 years for Sebastien Cattelan to break the 50 knots barrier!
The 1st Speed Sailing event was organized in Leucate, France in 2003 by Sebastien Cattelan. In 2007 he organized the first “Luderitz Speed Challenge” – now officially recognized as the fastest speed strip in the world.Since 2007 Cattelan has brought together all of the best International speed sailors, who share his ambition to push the boundaries of speed sailing.
In the 2008 Luderitz Speed Challenge Sebastien Cattelan was the 1st man to break the 50 knots barrier (+90km/h average over 500m) and Kitesurfing officially became the fastest craft in Speed Sailing with 50,57 knots (+93,5km/h average over 500m) – Two other Kiteboarders, American Rob Douglas and Frenchman Alexandre Caizergues also passed the 50 knot barrier. Within a few months the Hydroptre (hydrofoil boat) claimed the title with 51,36 knots (95 knots average over 500m).
All performances are validated by the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council) who have ratified speed sailing records since1972 www.sailspeedrecords.com Cattelan has made South Africa his base since 2002 – training in the most extreme conditions in the world, helping him to stay in the top of world rankings. In 2009 he held the titles of “World Speed Champion on GPS “and the “GPS Record holder in Speed Sailing” with 53.06 knots (+98 km/h average over 500m).
As a pioneer in the sport, Sebastien Cattelan has contributed hugely to the development of speed kiting equipment The 3 Pre-requisites required for Speed Kiting:
Location – finding a spot where the wind condition and water are condusive to speed sailing
Equipment – your board and kite.
Skills€“ this involves technical knowledge of how to sail fast. The most difficult thing is learning to use the power of the wind in the kite, combining it with the board which acts like a razorblade – cutting the surface of the water ensuring faster speeds. Lederitz Bay, Namibia, is the town where “Alizee’s” winds blow the strongest onthe West Coast of Africa. From September to February these winds, strengthened by the heat from the desert and accelerated by the “venture” effect that tunnels down the hills around Luderitz lagoon, the anemometer reach regularly 45 knots and higher.
Together with the flat water, the angle and power of the winds allow the riders to sail faster than the prevailing wind speed. Finding the right location is 90% of the performance.
The Board: Cattelan explains that as speed increases the impact of the board on the water surface becomes harder. As a result, the higher the speed, the more flexible the tail of the board needs to be to ensure control through the chop. Experience is everything in this game. Cattelan works together with Fred Kloren, the Cape Town based shaper of “Xelerator” kite boards. Together they have spent years of research and development creating the ultimate speed machine. Xelerator is also the only company that sells both production and custom speed boards. The custom boards are based on Xelerator’s TPFC (Thickness Profile Flex Control) which changes the thickness of the boards according to the rider’s weight. All of these profiles are stored in a database where they are combined with the rocker profile to match different riding conditions. This way the rider is ensured that they have the right board for the conditions. www.xeleratorkiteboarding.com
The Kite: In the early days of speed kiting there was not enough depower so it was impossible to stop after the finish line! In order to benefit from the flattest water riders have to stay as close to the shore as possible. Cattelan discovered that in order for the kite to depower quickly the kite needs to be flat. Together with the French brand Genetrix he has developed the ultimate speed kite – the Genetrix Hydra €“ improving safety and allowing the rider to reach the fastest speeds in the strongest wind conditions. www.gentrixkitesurf.com
Cattelans passion for speed sailing has led him to organize events and competitions to ensure that speed sailing continues to develop internationally as a professional sport.
In 2007 the 1st official runs were already 3 knots faster than any preceding world record! During the month of the first Luderitz Speed Challenge wooden poles were placed at the start line – allowing riders a head start before the run on flatter water – resulting in a faster average speed over 500m. On average an additional 3 knots increase in speeds were recorded over the month of racing – ending at the top speed of 47,9 knots (the official record at the time was 48,70 knots – by a Windsurfer and the Kiteboarding record was: 41,79 knots).
In 2008 a dam was built using sandbags. Approximately 50 000 bags created a pyramid shape wall of 2 m wide and 1 m high. This prevented chop on the water again ensuring faster speeds could be reached. In certain places a wooden barrier was also installed. The hard work paid off – for the first time in the history of speed sailing 3 riders broke the 50 knot barrier!
In 2009 Cattelan decided to excavate a channel the length of the speed strip which extended 200 m before the start line to 200m after the finish line, again resulting in faster speeds
With all the valuable experience gained from previous years, in 2010 the excavating has become more precise. A straighter and wider channel has been built with improved angles allowing for maximum wind strength and ease of use. Cameras have been installed at the start and finish lines to capture the moment records arebroken!
LUDERITZ SPEED CHALLENGE 2010 will bring together famous Windsurfers and Kite surfers from all over the world:
The Overall Speed record: 51,36 knots (set by hydrofoil boat)The Kitesurfing Women’s record: 45,20 knots (set by kite boarding)The Kitesurfing Men’s record: 50,98 knotsThe Windsurfing Men’s Record: 49,09 knotsThe Windsurfing Women’s Record: 41,25 knots
Records per Nation to beat :
-France :Ultimate Record : 51,36 knotsKitesurf : men: 50,98 knots / women: 44,74 knotsWindsurf : men: 49,09 /women: 40,05
-South Africa:Kitesurf: men: 48, 79 knots / women(Ultimate): 45,20 knotsWindsurf : men: 39,86 /women : nothing yet-EnglandKitesurf : men: 44,78 knots / women: 38,18 knotsWindsurf : men: 44,34 /women: 37,24

Source: Waterhound

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