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Fifty Knots cracked... and disputed

by scuttlebutt on 1 Apr 2008
50 knots!! just before the screaming © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz
Twenty year old Sjoukje Bredenkamp (RSA) has entered the history books and has broken the mythical 50 knot barrier... or has she? Sailing at the French 'ditch' specifically designed for speed sailing attempts, the young kiteboarder has broken all existing speed records on her Naish built kiteboard.

Her speed over a 500 metre course of 50.13 knots has been ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. But there are many observers who dispute the record... saying that for the last 50 metres she was not actually touching the water at all, but was, in fact, airborne at a height of at least 5 metres and simply blown through the finish gate before crashing, rather spectacularly.

'If it's a sailing record, one should be sailing' said Scottish boardsailor Beauregard 'Skruggs' McTavish. 'The outright airspeed record is a bit higher.. about 1000 knots higher. I could hear her screaming for help for the last 30 yards or so, no small accomplishment that, given how loud the wind was howling... but it's simply not sailing. Real men keep a fin in the water, that's all I will say for now...'

World Sailing Speed Record Council Secretary C. John Reed, on hand to observe Ms. Bredenkamp's historical run said: 'This should not be that complicated. It's the position of the WSSRC that Ms. Bredenkamp has indeed broken the 50 knot barrier and the outright sailing speed record. It matters not that the last few metres she was fully airborne... with the state of hydrodynamics, foils and laminar flow on today's fastest craft, it's going to be almost impossible to determine if water is actually touching a physical surface at every moment of a record run. I've seen footage of sailboards where only the very tip of the skeg was in the water.. and sometimes not even that. How much water is actually 'touching' Hydroptere when it's up on the foils? Not much, is my reasoned opinion.'

Asked if a fully airborne 500m record could fully count as a 'sailing record', Reed replied, 'No, but we're not talking about someone jumping off a cliff here... they start in water and end in water. If they want to be blown downwind at altitude for 499 metres more power (and records) to them. These are very brave men and women. It scares the bejabbers out of me just watching it.'

Full story at www.scuttlebutteurope.com/
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