Speed Kiting versus L’Hydroptère

If you’ve been following our blog from the start, you will know that it was kitesurfing that got us first started.

Kite surfing – who would think it one of the most extreme of the extreme sports out there? When you watch the grace and beauty of the swooping kites, the speed and twists, manoeuvres and jumps of the kiters, one tends to think – extreme? No ways, beautiful and graceful certainly, but not extreme.

However it is a dangerous sport as you are totally at the mercy of an unpredictable force – the wind.

And using that totally unpredictable force, the people of Luderitz in Namibia have held the speed kiting annual event there since 2007. Relatively new on the calendar, this is a must for all speed kiters. Between August and March Luderitz has consistent, strong wind, blowing from the south at the perfect angle of 140 degrees to the sailing course.

2010 Luderitz Speed Challenge: new innovations are being prepared

The event is organised by ESF Events, managed and owned by Frederic Dasse  and French kitesurfer  Sebastien Cattelan who became the first sailor to break the 50 knots barrier with 50.26 knots on the 3rd of October, 2008 at the Luderitz Speed Challenge. The event is observed by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

In 2009 a 3 metre wide canal was dug which opened up a world of possibilities. It proved to be an amazing idea, as it created a near perfect water state that allowed kiters to go faster than ever before in less wind (40 knots max) !   This canal is 10 times more narrow than the canal at “Les Saintes Marie de la Mer” in France, where Antoine Albeau had previously set the fastest time on a windsurfer (49.09 knots).

Kiteboarding has put itself firmly on the map as one of the fastest sailing sports on earth, although the international sailing community has changed its definition of sailing so that kitesurfing is no longer considered sailing! Hmmm, spoilsports…

Some of the records smashed to date in Namibia are:

2007 Records :
1st “Kiteboarding World Record Attempt” already reached success with amazing results:

  • Kiteboarding world Record
  • Outright Ladies world Record

2008 Records :
Kiteboarding became the fastest craft on water and 1st to break the 50 knot barrier.

  • 18 national records were set.
  • Every competitor improved their personal Records.
  • The first ever over-50-knots outright speed sailing record

2009 Records:

  • a new world kitespeed record – 50.98 knots (94.4 kph)
  • new USA outright speed sailing record (men and women)
  • new Slovenia, Brazil outright records

The plan in 2010 is to build upon the success of last year, and dig a canal the whole way. The width and angle will also be improved. It’ll be made dead straight to get better averages over 500 meters.

The event attracts many nationalities and has proven to be the fastest kiteboarding spot in the world over the past 3 years. Hopes to beat the present record set by the fastest sailing boat on the planet, L’Hydroptère, are high. She currently holds the record with 51.36 knots…

Last year Alexandre Caizergues  broke the kiteboarding world record with an astonishing 50.98 knots. It would seem that beating L’Hydroptère’s record is not an impossible dream.

Entries are open now for the 4th – 31st October 2010 event at Luderitz. Should you be interested in taking part, I suggest you go directly to their website.

Good luck and be careful… falling at that speed will result in more than a few bruises!

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