Luderitz, Namibia keeps pulling me back year after year. 2012 was the first time the canal had been built and the Luderitz Speed Challenge was born as we know it today. The world and British records were smashed in that year.
I competed in the last two weeks of the Speed Challenge in 2012 and achieved my fastest speed over 500m of 48.21 knots with a peak speed of 50.20 knots, 0.6 knots off the British record that was set the week before I arrived. In 2012 we had 4 days of sailing with 5.5m and 6m sails in winds upto 40 knots. After the event we all presumed that personal bests and records would be broken every year.
2013 saw the event moved forward two weeks and the winds didn’t blow. We had days of sailing but not strong enough for records. My fastest was 45.5 knots over 500m and a peak speed of 47.3 knots. 5 days of sailing but only with the biggest sail I took, a 6.4m just for training purposes.
So 2014 came along and I was full of confidence, 2013 could have been a fluke year of low winds, we might get condition like 2012. The event had been moved another two weeks earlier than 2013.
Equipment wise things had been learnt from the previous two years. My boards were the same as 2013, Patrik Diethelm 41 and 43cm. My sails were the same make as 2013, Neil Pryde Evo6 updated from the Evo5 of 2013. Everything was set.
In the previous two weeks of the 2014 event up until we arrived there had been two days where four people had sailed just over 49 knots. The Luderitz airport forecast for that day showed 28-31knots of wind on the first day and 26 –31 knots on the second. The canal usually has 5-8 knots more wind than the airport but the nearest place that forecasts the wind is the airport. We really need a forecast of 30-35 knots minimum for a real crack at big speeds. When I got my record in 2012 the forecast was 28-34 knots.
During the two weeks we were there we had 3 days of sailing. Friday Oct 24th was the first day and I struggled to get five runs down the course due the light winds (22-28 knots forecast). Top speed was 44.6 knots peak of 45.87. Nice to get back on the canal again though and still early doors.
The next day of wind was 30 Oct, forecast of 24-29 knots of wind. 2 sailors went just over 49 knots and Patrik (who shapes my boards) blew every one away with a 51knot run. Being so close to the record he was given priority to jump the queue which did help but hats off to the maestro. I have to admit that I just could get it going this day, I had a 500m speed of 46.96 knots, max 48.60 knots. I change my fin from a 22cm to a 20cm and immediately felt the board was sliding through the water easier but by then the wind was dying.
The next day the forecast wasn’t good however we were pleasantly surprised with 20-26 knots of wind, the course was open and everyone was on edge to see if the wind would fill in and we could have a crack at our pb’s. It didn’t blow strong enough although I recorded 46.91 knots 500m and 48.5knots peak in a lot less wind than the day before. I was leading for most of the day until Patrik clocked and amazing 48 knots.
Overall I am happy with my performance, I am a big speed sailor and I am there to compete in strong winds to get records. The past two years haven’t produced strong winds however I am still in the mix with my speeds.
Luderitz will almost certainly never blow 50 knots and if it does because of the extreme broad angle of the canal it will be un-sailable.
I need 30-35knots of wind forecast to break the British record and push over 50 knots.
My equipment is working great, I just have to get the right combination. Fitness was great this year, joining the gym helped a lot and sailing all day with 5kg of lead on my back was not an issue.
What to change: Not much. I weigh 115kg, in the lighter winds that we have had for the past two years I think 108kg would be right for me. That’s the goal now.
What is next: I am looking forward to a bit of play time in the wave with the boys in Guernsey this winter. There is a European Championship in Fuerteventura mid 2015 which would be great to compete in, different set up to record attempts but something I have always enjoyed. Luderitz 2015? It’s a long way off, I have still got unfinished business though.
I am ranked 12th on the GPS Speedsailing all time overall rankings
I have the GPS British 10second record 48.94 knots
12th Fastest 500m all time windsurfer speed 48.21 knots
2010 Speed world cup Vice champion (last world cup)
More results can be seen on my cv.
Thanks to my Sponsors
Crabby Jacks Restaurant
Neil Pryde Sails
Patrik Diethelm Boards
Black Project Fins