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Southern Spars - North Technology

Salt and Speed draws to a close

by Tanguy Blondel on 15 Dec 2012
Salt and Speed Tanguy Blondel
'Salt and Speed', an event set up with the goal of breaking the outright speed sailing record and underway since 17 November on the new nautical arena of Salin-de-Giraud, France, came to a close today. Kitesurfers Alexandre Caizergues and Rob Douglas, the event’s two protagonists, are positive about the results of this first session and have set a date for next spring for some fresh runs, with the aim of averaging 60 knots over 500 metres and securing the World kitesurfing record.

Alexandre Caizergues, organiser and rider at 'Salt and Speed':

About the event: 'The results of this first attempt are more than positive on every level. The organisation team is beginning to really get the hang of things and the volunteers who assisted us during this initial waiting period have really done a good job and were always to hand, even when it was only three degrees on surf spot… A massive thanks to them! In terms of conditions, we were well aware that the month of December could be difficult, as much in terms of the strength of the Mistral as the temperatures. I think we went for it on the days we needed to go for it and in the end we had one great day with a strong Mistral, albeit a little too ‘straight’. We also had two nice days with around thirty knots, which enabled us to get to grips with the spot a little better still. It was a shame that the only day with strong wind was the first one as it’s hard to acclimatise to hard-core conditions from the outset!

In sporting terms, we have nevertheless secured the best kite performance of the year through Rob with a 53.40-knot average over 500 metres. That is hugely satisfying for the whole of the Salt and Speed team! By taking this title, Rob has won a fantastic Zenith watch. The 'Volkswagen Transporter Arena' also earns the title of the fastest spot in France and Europe, which is another feather in our caps. For the future, I’m obviously keen to continue this adventure with, I hope, a follow-up season in the spring, but I don’t yet know what form this will take. We know that the spot could be a lot quicker, which is added motivation!!! Finally, I’d also like to thank the partners of Salt and Speed, without whom none of this would have been possible, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Zenith, Groupe Salins and the Fédération Française de Vol Libre (French Free Flight Federation).'

About his performance: '52.45 knots is good. I’m happy with my performance. By the end of the attempt I managed not to be far behind Rob Douglas, the current reference over the distance, since he’s the World kite record holder. I had a tough start to the season with my injury and it took a lot of work to get back up to speed again. I still have some tweaks to make on my equipment and together with my partners we’re working on this element so we can tackle the spring with high hopes. This winter I’m heading to the Middle East for some training.'

Rob Douglas: 'We’ve validated the first phase of competition at this new spot, the 'Volkswagen Transporter Arena'. I pulled off the best world kitesurfing performance of the year with an average of 53.40 knots over 500 metres, so I’m happy with that. I’m going to head back to the United States with a head full of ideas about how to improve my equipment. I’m already itching for 'Salt and Speed' 2013 to come knocking. This winter I’m going to do more physical training and I’ll be heading to Costa Rica to practise in some strong wind conditions.'

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 speed!
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