Interview with Sylvain Hoceini & Sebastien Salerno

Chris Benz Lüderitz Speed Challenge

To the point

by Sylvain Hoceini & Sébastien Salerno – FRANCE (Kitesurfers)

Sebastien Salerno

How long have you kite-surfed and done speed sailing?

Sebastien Salerno:
Kite: start 2005 / speed: 2010

I start to do race competitions (Long Distance) in 2007 in France. Then, I have followed the PKRA World Race Championship in 2009.The 2010 Lüderitz Speed Challenge has been my first speed competition.

Sylvain Hoceini

Sylvain Hoceini:
Kite :start 1996 / speed 2006
My 1st competition has been already in 1999: 1st World Championship in Marocco.

Titles and Achievements:

2nd in French Snowkite Championship in 2008/ 2nd in Long Distance World Championship in 2009 / Lüderitz Speed Challenge 2010:I have passed the 100kph with 54.28 kts (4th in the world ranking)

Actual French Speed Champion and 2nd in the World ranking / 2nd in World Championship in Freestyle in 2000/ Multiple French & European champion in Long Distance

What is « Speed » for you?

First of all, it’s a real challenge against yourself. It’s Adrenalin and Commitment. It’s a huge work in the development of the equipment. Actually, it’s months of development of equipment for only 20 seconds runs.

Adrenalin! It’s my favorite discipline, the continuous development of equipment and performance researches. I think you need time to go fast. You have to go slow (learn and develop) before you can go fast.

What is the LUDERITZ SPEED CHALLENGE for you? And what have been the improvements this year – 2015?

Sebastien Salerno

For me the LSC is 1st, a big and wonderful adventure every time. It’s also the opportunity for me to refocus on myself. When I come here in Lüderitz-Namibia it allows me to escape from the everyday life.

I come here for this event because I want to feel sensations I can’t feel anywhere else in the world. It’s a ride on a merry-go-around for a kid. It’s « Space Mountain »!

You have to understand, its speed but in a channel. The accelerations you can get, the capacity you get to make you going faster is incomparable than anywhere else in the world.

I have participated in 2010, 2013 and this year. I see major improvements made on the channel and around the channel : village, shuttle to go back to the start, … services you appreciate in this chase dealing extreme conditions. When we were racing in the channel in the lagoon before 2011, you were going back to the start by yourself, sailing, and you were getting really tired from that. You really appreciate those kinds of services and details.

The new and current channel has been dug 300m from the lagoon. I have already seen it in 2013 on my 2nd participation and for me it was already accomplished. There is a big gap between 2010 and 2013.

The angle is perfect and suits 100% the wind orientation and our speeds. This is already one of the most important conditions that the development of this channel has provided.

The perfect and wide launching area allows riders to enter the straight part with already an incredible and huge speed (me I have clocked a 60 kts in 35 kts of wind !). The finish is also providing the fastest speeds in the channel but slightly less than the entrance. The finish is of course really impressive as it’s not an open ocean but it’s really long wide and looks like a swimming pool. The width of the channel is also very good to be able to absorb the possible winds variations.

Sylvain Hoceini

For me LSC is 1st a challenge for the organization: it starts from here. Be able to provide to riders a channel with all it includes with local possibilities, like “with only your “heart and your belief”! I am glad to use what they bring and to develop and adapt myself to what is available. It’s an adventure.

I have raced here in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014 and this year.

I have never stopped my evolution here. I have started with 49.79 kts on 500m in 2008 (4 in the World ranking).

The drafts of the channel have been brought in 2009 and I have taken the benefit from this in 2010 reaching 52.9 kts. (2 years after, the 5th best time in the World ranking but 3 knots more!).

This channel has always been improved until reaching the almost perfection today. I remember in 2008 have said that soon everybody will be able to reach 50kts. Now, when I do 50kts I am like “oh nooo! Again! I have to move my ass! ». I am not satisfied. We have to understand that.

This year I can easy see that the channel has been once again improved and can supply better performances: arrangements at the start, in the finish and along the run show a fine tuned run. Cattelan has invented a new chop killer concept which is working like a bomb! I trust the organization to find quick solutions at each step of the event to be efficient, understand, analyse and create with the available tools to reach the needs of the riders. You have to deserve the channel. For me the next record which will be broken, will be established in a collective spirit.

So far, what have been your sensations in the channel?

Extremely high speed at the entrance. We can keep the energy safely with no stress. On the last 200m, the relief made by the hills allows another huge acceleration. The finish stands without any chop, really clean.

In the middle, we feel sometimes a hole with lighter wind but only when the wind is not strong enough. We only get few really strong gusts so far and the strong wind has not been constant so in that case you have to sail a lot to get the luck. If you don’t, you have no chance. The chop killer that Seb has made is really efficient. It absorbs the little waves that the wind can create. In general, the channel is really safe and allow to push it but it’s still an extreme sport. You have to be really fit because it’s short and intense efforts that you have to supply. It’s the Quest of the exceptional, of something almost inaccessible that you try to transform in accessible. So of course it brought you in an uncomfortable position. It is ironic: the more you commit the best you can handle it safely. It becomes easier. More you risk the most you can control. Powerful on your feet, you manage to keep your tracks better with more stability (avec plus d’accroche avec les ailerons).

The 1st race day is always very impressive. It’s impossible to get ready without any adjustment period. The result increases by 30% after 1 hard training week.

About my feelings so far, this year, I can say that I have been really surprised about the power you can get at the start. I was not expecting to get those kinds of huge accelerations. The quality of the start of the run make me feeling that I go faster without even feeling it. The channel is so fast that when there is only 20 kts of wind like yesterday, I do 45-47 kts and I am cruising only. It’s too easy. But I can say it’s a channel designed for strong winds and efficient to reach much higher performances.

What are your objectives for tomorrow?

First of all, my main objective is to beat my 54.28 kts Personal Best that I own since 2010 and prove to myself that my skills have increased since.

The 2nd one is a collectiv objectif. I want to be part of the future record and push one of us 3 with Sylvain Hoceini and Sébastien Cattelan to beat the actual record in kitesurfing (56.62kts). It’s my spirit. I wish to show what we do in Lüderitz and how a group spirit can provide amazing performances and the story would be beautiful. It would be a great and deep pleasure to be part of that. So it’s on the same time a personal challenge and a collective adventure. Being together and push in the same direction. Lüderitz, it’s the mutual aid, the sharing; Yesterday Seb proposed to give me his board for example, Sylvain too. It’s still competition but with a common spirit. We find solution together with available equipment. Here we make plans B: That is what I love.

57 kts average on 500m humbly. If the wind is there, it’s possible. Maybe 2 changements on my equipment to see the difference. A bit of chance for the right gust. . I have never been that ready.

  • History 2015
    Day 4

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