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Southern Spars

Latest bid launched for outright World Speed Sailing record

by Tanguy Blondel on 4 Dec 2012
Salt and Speed sunset © AQUATERRA / Beneteau Gregory http://www.aqua-terra.info
The latest bid for the outright World Speed Sailing record has been launched. Since Wednesday the French and American kiteboarders, Alex Caizergues and Rob Douglas, have been performing a series of 500-metre runs in the 'Volkswagen Transporter Arena', a surf spot situated at the heart of the Salins du Midi in France’s Camargue. Rob Douglas, the current holder of the World kitesurf speed record (55.65 knots achieved in 2010), second of all the categories behind Paul Larsen’s Sailrocket 2, has so far pulled off a timed sprint of 53.40. Alex Caizergues, the first man to exceed 100km/hr (54.10 knots in 2010), has achieved 52.45 knots.

This is excellent news because it means that the Franco-American duo, among the top speed kitesurfers on the planet, have over recent days validated the brand new spot in Salin-de-Giraud. Along this 800-metre long trench, spanning some 10 metres in width and perfectly angled in relation to the north-westly to northerly Mistral, the riders are able to go very, very fast. 'We weren’t in optimum conditions last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Sunday,' explains Alex Caizergues, the project’s initiator together with his father, Philippe, who’s also a speed kitesurfing buff. 'The water was a little too high and the wind angle wasn’t entirely favourable for propelling our machines along at speed'. Added to that it was cold and rain coloured proceedings on Wednesday making conditions particularly extreme.

'It was like being on the moon' smiles Christophe Simian, an enlightened observer from the venerable WSSRC, the world speed record regulator. It was reminiscent of the ends of the earth given how wild and hostile the environment is for man. The strapping Rob Douglas didn’t look too impressed as he alternated between solo power runs and rides, clearing his mind as he says and doubtless running through the different scenarios, Morgan, his younger brother keeping an eye out! 'The wind is stronger than in Namibia, where we’ve been performing over recent years. It can easily pick up to 50 knots. I am impressed by the site. I don’t think it’ll be a problem to beat the outright world kitesurfing record, which I currently hold. As regards the outright World Speed Sailing record, recently set by Sailrocket, that’ll take time but we’ll get there. That’s all part and parcel of the history behind these records and that’s why it’s so rich'.

In any case, the numerous 'Salt and Speed' volunteers, perched along the banks of the 'Volkswagen Transporter Arena' are ready for anything to help Alex and Rob reach for the stars in the speed world.

Alert: Rob Douglas and Alex Caizergues will be in action on Saturday. A strong Mistral is expected at the site…

Reminder: the first act of 'Salt and Speed' will continue until 14 December 2012.

Alexandre Caizergues: Born on 14 March 1979

3 x World Speed Champion (2007, 2008, 2009)
2 x World Speed Record all categories combined in 2008 and 2010
2 x World Kite Speed Record in 2007 and 2009
2 x FFVL (French Free Flight Federation) French Speed Champion
European Long Distance Number Two 2008
World Speed Number Two 2006

1st man to break 100 km/hr on the water, propelled by the wind

Partners: Ouest Provence – AlpEnergie par GDF SUEZ - Volkswagen Véhicules Utilitaires (Commercial Vehicles) – Zenith – Orange.


Rob Douglas: Born on 16 June 1971

World Speed Record all categories combined in 2011 with 55.65 knots and 49.84 knots in 2008.

World Speed Champion 2012

Partners: The Black Dog - Cabrinha - Lynch Associates - NPX - Dakine - Curtis Fins- Mike's Lab custom boards


In figures:

65.45 knots: SailRocket 2 24 November 2012 in Namibia
59.23 knots: SailRocket 2 November 2012 (awaiting WSSRC approval)
55.65 knots: Rob Douglas 28 October 2010 Namibia
54.10 knots: Alexandre Caizergues 12 October 2010 Luderitz, Namibia exceeding 100km/hr
51.36 knots: Hydroptère on 6 September 2009
50.57 knots: Alexandre Caizergues 4 October 2008 Luderitz, Namibia
50.26 knots: Seb Cattelan 3 October 2008 Luderitz, Namibia
49.84 knots: Rob Douglas 19 September 2008 Luderitz, Namibia
49.09 knots: World Speed Record Antoine Albeau 5 March 2008 in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France
46.82 knots: Record set by windsurfer Finian Maynard in the autumn of 2004, bringing an end to the hegemony of the sailboat Yellow Pages in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France
46.52 knots: Yellow Pages Endeavour in 1993 at the Sandy Point spot, Australia
38.86 knots: Pascal MAKA the first windsurfer to rack up a new official record with 38.86 knots in Sotavento
26.30 knots: Crossbow Catamaran in Portland in 1972

NB: the outright World Sailing Speed Record is the best average speed over 500m by a sail-powered contraption… As such it is different to a peak Salt and Speed Facebook Page

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