In winds reaching more than 50 knots, two new world speed records were set today at the Lüderitz Speed Challenge. The current world speed record holder in windsurfing, Antoine Albeau (FRA), set a new outright windsurfing record of 53.27 knots, which improves the speed of 52.05 knots that he set in 2012. Also, Karin Jaggi (SUI) set a new female world windsurfing record of 46.31 knots, which improves on the speed of 45.83 knots set by Zara Davis (GBR) in 2012.
Both records will need to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. The Lüderitz Speed Challenge, held annually since 2007, has produced 12 World and 75 National Windsurfing and Kiteboard speed records. Observed by the World Sailing Speed Record Council and the International Sailing Federation, the 2015 event occurs over six weeks from October 5 to November 15.
In 2012, we watched the sailing speed record world shaken, with a raft of world records coming out of that year’s Lüderitz Speed Challenge and surrounding Namibian waters. After starting off quietly on the world record front, this year’s event saw one of those big 2012 records fall. French windsurfer Antoine Albeau beat his own mark to lift the 500-meter (1,640-ft) record up over 53 knots.
The Chris Benz Lüderitz Speed Challenge is not your average event, even in the above-average world of world speed-record chasing. Inland from the breezy coastlines where you’d expect to find people windsurfing and kiteboarding, the event takes place on an artificial 1-km-long (0.62-mile-long) strip of water in the middle of the Namib Desert. And it runs for weeks on end.
Sometimes called the Lüderitz Speed Channel, the “fast channel” used for the annual gathering of sailing speed hounds was purpose-designed for speed record-level windsurfing and kitesurfing by French kitesurfer Sébastien Cattelan. Cattelan became the first to break 50 knots (92.6 km/h, 57.5 mph) when he piloted his kite rig to 50.26 knots (93.08 km/h, 57.8 mph) on the Lüderitz channel in October 2008, the second year of the Speed Challenge. Many others have set world and national records on the channel over the years.
The event takes place in Lüderitz (southern Namibia) in the middle of the Namib Desert. Founder and organiser of the event, and the first person ever to achieve 50 and 55 knots, Sébastien Cattelan (France), is the brainchild behind the specially made *very fast* channel. This artificial 1km long channel is located in the natural Lüderitz Second Lagoon just a few kilometers from Lüderitz town in the middle of the Namib Desert.
The 2015 event has attracted 40 top riders to attempt to break National and World Records. Windsurfing and kiteboarding competitors will represent Germany, the United Kingdom, Namibia, South Africa, France, Serbia, Belgium, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Croatia, Fiji, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy.
By the end of the day, Albeau had taken 32 total runs, with 13 runs over 52 knots (96.3 km/h, 59.8 mph) and 4 runs over 53 knots (98.2 km/h). That’s a truly awesome day on the water, especially considering that 50 knots was only reached a few years ago.