It was a phenomenal Day 1 at the 2008 Luderitz Speed Challange. Kitesurfer Rob Douglas (US) goes smoking into the lead, and shatters the previous US speed sailing record with a 47.639kt run.
Once teething troubles were sorted out with equipment on this first day of the Lüderitz Speed Challenge, and everyone had settled into the relentless blast of the wind, there was no end to the high speed runs.
Rob had a great result for a relative newcomer to the international speed sailing scene, although Frenchmen Alexandre Caizergues and Sebastien Cattelan are hot on his heels only .33 and .46 knots slower. Windsurfing great Bjorn Dunkerbeck set a personal best times of 44.78 knots, even in slightly broad conditions not perfectly suited to windsurfers.
Says Rob Douglas: 'I started out slow, and things got better for me as the wind picked up and the water improved. It was rough in the beginning, so later when it got smooth it felt like I wasn’t going any faster.' He’s so far very happy with his equipment. 'The Cabrinha kites were great,' Douglas comments, 'And the Amundson boards keep pleasantly surprising me.'
A key factor was fins, which the team had been struggling to working on. 'We’ve now found the fins we like from Curtis – they’re fast with lots of grip.' He’s happy so far with his equipment, although the water conditions on the Lüderitz speed strip call for more rocker and a bit more flex on the board. 'Not sure how we’re going to work it into the programme from here,' he says.
Is speed sailing all about the gear then? At this level Douglas believe this is true: 'All the guys have got super talent. At this level it’s the gear, it’s the ability to get the power onto the water.'
The Lüderitz Speed Challenge is only into its second day out of a whole month’s sailing – so there will be more records – personal, national and international, to be broken. Rob Douglas: 47.639
Alex Caizergues: 47.313
Sebastien Cattelan: 47.175
Manu Taub: 45.196
Christophe Pringuenon: 45.112
Bjorn Dunkerbeck: 44.779
Jerome Bila: 43.986
Hennie Bredenkamp (k): 43.807
Taro Niehaus: 43.279
Benoit Moussilmani: 43.183 http://www.luderitz-speed.com/