The Lüderitz Speed Challenge will not take place in it's normal form for 2011, as approval to build the new canal was granted too late to inform all the competitors in time, so it'll be used as a testing year.
The new canal has been built in the salt pan a few hundred meters upwind of Second Lagoon, and still needs to be validated for safety reasons.
The trial event (testing phase) will take place 20 October until 17 November 2011. Should this prove successful, then a full event will be organised in 2012 when all the international speed sailors (kiters and windsurfers) will be invited.
A World Speed Sailing Record Council (WSSRC) commissioner will preside to ensure we conform to the WSSRC rules and to validate any national, continental or world records established during this period.
The first edition of the Lüderitz Speed Challenge, held in September and October 2007, saw a number of impressive performances, suddenly placing Lüderitz on the world sailing map in a major way !
Sjoukje Bredenkamp, a professional kiteboarder from Langebaan in South Africa, established a new outright female speed sailing world record in Lüderitz, becoming the fastest sailing woman in the world, with 42.35 knots over 500m.
Alex Caizergues, Manu Taub and Sebastien Cattelan, all French professional kiteboarders, established several new kitesurfing speed records, and took respectively the second, third and fourth outright all-time speed sailing records, with 47.92 knots, 46.98 knots and 46.71 knots.
Since then the Outright and Kite speed records have been broken several times.
Rob Douglas was the first kiter to claim the outright speed sailing record in 2008 with 49.84 knots.
Next was Sebastien Cattelan who became the 1st sailor to break the 50 knot barrier in 2008 with 50.52 knots.
Alex Caizergues improved this to 50.57 knots the very next day.
Alex managed to improve this to 50.98 knots in 2009, just shy of the 51.36 knots outright record set by the boat "Hydroptere".
A canal was built in 2010 which improved the water state and allowed for faster speeds with greater control, this resulted in Sebastien Cattelan being the first person to break 55 knots with 55.49, then a few minutes later, Rob Douglas took it further with a stunning 55.65.
Both these speeds are well beyond Hydroptere's record, and validated the purpose of a canal.
The problem with last year's canal is that it was in an eco-sensitive area and kept getting destroyed by the tides; therefore it was decided to move the canal extensively beyond the reach of the tide (besides Spring High which occurs only twice a month). We'll find out this year whether this decision has been vindicated.
Lüderitz has generated enough wind over the aeons to move all of the desert sand away, leaving bare rock, diamonds and no vegetation.
It's now recognized as the best speed sailing spot on the planet for kitesurfing, and will likely soon also reach this status for windsurfers.
There are a number of reasons to this…
At the coast at Lüderitz itself is a natural speed strip, with a great angle that provides conditions perfect for breaking the outright WSSRC 500m record.
Firstly, the wind:
The wind in Lüderitz blows consistently, in the same direction, from August to March every year. The wind is strong, and in spite of the surrounding desert, is not hot, which gives higher density to the airflow and contributes to better performances. It is accelerated by a funnel effect as it comes from the cold Atlantic Ocean waters, over the dry savannah of south Namibia, and into the Namibian desert. It is precisely in Lüderitz that the wind, channelled through a range of high hills perfectly shaped to increase its speed, reaches the sand desert, which high daytime temperatures amplify by creating an additional low-pressure “suction effect”. As a result, we benefit from extra strong winds, very regular in direction and strength.
Lüderitz is normally windy for a four to five day period without a break at least three to four times a month, and we could say from experience that in-season, 50-70% of the time is good for record conditions. In 2007, we ran 11 sessions for just under World Record conditions over the 28 days duration of the event.
The outright record was broken 3x in 2008, Alex improved the kite record in 2009 to 50.98, and it was further improved to 55.65 by Rob Douglas in 2010.
With advent of the canal, the water state remains excellent, even in gale force wind. This improves the control and consequently the speeds.
Thirdly, the angle to the wind:
The ideal angle of the wind needed to reach high speeds in kitesurfing or windsurfing is around 140 degrees. This is the angle at Lüderitz…It seems like this spot has been created just for speed.
Our next target is the 60 knot barrier !
Images will be available freely to the press and the competitors or their sponsors. Photos, as well as video images, will be provided by outsourced professional and will be also featured daily on our website. Stories, interviews, results, newsletters, breaking news, and race notices will be written live and published daily by our Press Centre manager.
That’s it !
See you in Lüderitz …