The first ever Outright Windsurfing World Record was set by Pascal Maka, who clocked 38.86 knots in 1986 (1st Windsurfing Record was in 1983: Fred Haywood: 1st at 30 knots).
After this things went a little quiet, though a promising phenomenon was brewing near the tip of Africa. The Lüderitz Speed Challenge was born in 2007 and by October 2008 the event had entered the annals of sailing history, after the event’s kitesurfing co-organizer Sébastien Cattelan broke through the mythical 50 knots barrier. From that moment on, records have continued to tumble here on one of the world’s harshest coastlines.
The wind speeds that enable these incredible feats are the result of warm desert winds meeting the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, creating a massive pressure differential. What remained was for the organizer’s to study the local conditions in meticulous detail and to use their world-beating sailing expertise to continually improve the 500m run to the point at which, today, the event serves a model for other world-record breaking attempts around the world.
After the development of a channel on the margins of the lagoon in 2009 Lüderitz became home to the fastest ever sail speeds, speeds which received world press when kite surfers shattered world records several times (ending with 55.65 knots).
The lagoon-side innovation continued and for the Lüderitz Speed Challenge 2012 the organizers excavated an extraordinary artificial channel at a remove from the lagoon, resulting in flatter, safer conditions that enabled the big names of the windsurfing community to book their tickets for Namibia.
Three days into the four week windsurfing component of the Lüderitz Speed Challenge 2012 Frenchman Antoine Albeau improved the Windsurfing World Record with an average recorded time of 49.41 knots. Six days later his countryman Cédric Bordes clocked 49.66 knots but this was soon surpassed by Swiss Patrick Diethelm’s speed of 49.71 knots. It was clear that the 50 knot threshold was going to be pushed and it was Anders Bringdal from Sweden who became the first ever windsurfer to do so with a time of 50.43 knots, though his triumph was short-lived as Albeau finished that day with a time of 50.62 knots. Pushed on a daily basis by Bringdal, Albeau broke the World Record eight times over the competition’s four weeks period, ending with the fastest time of 52.05 knots. Albeau was joined in making history by the fastest female of the event, Zara Davis of Britain, who posted a windsurfing world record speed of 45.83 knots (made on Production board).
12 national multi-discipline records were broken during the course of the event, which is incredible when one considers that 13 nations were represented. The records were as follows :
SWEDEN: Anders Bringdal: 51.45 kts (95.3 kph) which is also the World Record on Production Board.
NETHERLANDS: Jurjen Van Der Noord: 51.26 kts (94.9 kph)
SWITZERLAND: Patrick Diethelm : 50.49 kts (93.5 kph) and then Bjorn Dunkerbeck: 51.09 kts (94.6 kph)
GREECE: Nick Vardalachos: 50.56 kts (93.6 kph)
GERMANY: Christian Bornemann: 46.75 kts (86.5 kph)
UNITED KINGDOM: Farrel O’Shea: 48.82 kts (90.4 kph)
FEMALE UNITED KINGDOM: Zara Davis: 45.83 kts (84.8 kph)
FEMALE TURKISH: Lena Erdil: 45.74 kts (84.7 kph)
ITALIAN: Alberto Possati: 44.47 kts (82.3 kph)
CROATIAN: Boris Vujasinovic: 44.47 kts (82.3 kph)
UKRAINIAN: Alexander Goncharov: 40.95 kts (75.8 kph)
In addition four national windsurfing records were posted in Lüderitz: the French, South African and Namibian records were respectively broken by Antoine Albeau, Mark Grinnell, Matthias Röchtter.
All in all seven riders hailing from five different countries went over 50 knots. These were:
FRANCE: ANTOINE ALBEAU (52.05kts) and CEDRIC BORDES (50.23kts)
SWEDEN: ANDERS BRINGDAL (51.45 kts)
NETHERLANDS: JURJEN VAN DER NOORD (51.26 kts)
SWITZERLAND: BJORN DUNKERBECK (51.09 kts) and PATRICK DIETHELM (50.49 kts)
GREECE: NICK VARDALACHOS (50.56 kts)
These unprecedented performances were made possible not only by the incredible skill and athleticism of each contestant but also by their belief in the event and their willingness to give of their experience to improve the sailing conditions. All the windsurfers agree that this year’s results can definitely be improved, and who wouldn’t, when you consider A.Albeau went three knots faster than he did in 2008, in less wind! The riders are presently leaving Namibia with ideas for modifying their gear in order to return for more action in stronger winds in 2013.
Anders Bringdal left saying that “The Lüderitz Speed Challenge World Record Attempt is the dream of every fanatic of speed”. Everything suggests that the future editions of the Lüderitz Speed Challenge will be legendary!
In addition four national windsurfing records were posted in Lüderitz: the French (52.05 kts), South African (49.66 kts) and Namibian (47.51 kts) records were broken by Antoine Albeau, Mark Grinnell, Matthias Röchtter.
Other speeds :
Martin Van Meurs (Dutch):47.95 kts
Martyn Ogier (British):48.21 kts
Cédric Bordes (French): 50.23 kts
Christian Benzing (German): 45.57 kts
Dieter Gerichhausen (German): 44.63 kts
Antoine Albeau/ Cédric bordes – TANDEM: 38.12 kts
Far from finished, the next two weeks of the Lüderitz Speed Challenge 2012 will be dedicated to Kitesurfing.
Watch this space!
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