Melissa Gil takes new American Record!
Luderitz Speed Challenge comes to an end with a broken back!
Words From Melissa Gil: I am back in Cape Town. I was able to go a little faster on Thursday, 38 knots. I had a better day! :) But, one of the kiters got hurt, broke his back. He got in an accident with another kiter and went up in the air and then down hard. :( He is getting an operation in Johanesburg, french guy, Jerome. We were all sad and scared, weird feeling... Melissa
The last day of racing saw Rob Douglas hit just over 50 knots, with his brother Jamie close behind with an excellent 48.67 (both on Cabrinha kites), and Alex Caizergues (F-One) again in the top three with 48.55.
Charlotte Consorti (F-One) had another very good day with a top speed of 43.07 knots, and Melissa Gil (Cabrinha) marginally upped her US outright women’s record to 38.00 knots.
It was a great event for the North American Speed Sailing Project, the organisation set up by Rob Douglas to “bring the records home to America”, with Rob and Melissa both taking home a new record, and Jamie Douglas hitting world-class speeds, despite being new to the sport. This will be a team to watch in the future.
The French, however, dominated as usual, with Alex Caizergues, Sebastien Cattelan and Christophe Prin-Guenon dominating the rankings, and a slew of their compatriots regularly getting 45+ knot results. The South African contingent made a strong showing, but didn’t achieve the results of last year. They will be back.
Competitors are now stretching out tired muscles, attending to bruises and sprains and packing their gear, tired but happy after spending so many weeks chasing the records.
This year's Lüderitz Speed Challenge saw better equipment and improved technique allow sailors to push the limits further, and get faster speeds in lighter wind. The record of French sailboat l’Hydroptère still stands unbroken at 51.36 knots. Given a few knots more wind in Lüderitz, this record would surely have fallen, but this is the great drama of speed sailing – it is skill, talent, equipment, technique, bravery… and a great deal of luck with the conditions of water and wind.
This year’s Lüderitz Speed Challenge saw a number of new kite speed and outright national records (these are all official, but still to be ratified by the WSSRC).
2009 Luderitz Speed Challenge Records
Alex Caizergues (F-One) – World kiteboard speed record: 50.98 knots
Rob Douglas (Cabrinha) – USA outright speed sailing record: 50.95knots
Jernej Privsek (Jägermeister) – Slovenian outright speed sailing record: 44.59 knots
Felipe Johannpeter (Genetrix) – Brazil outright speed record: 42.14 knots
Melissa Gil (Cabrinha) – USA woman’s national speed record: 38.00 knots
All Results for 2009 Luderitz Speed Challenge
Speed (knots) Speed (kph) Name Nationality
50.98 94.41 Alex Caizergues France
50.95 94.36 Robert Douglas USA
49.51 91.69 Sebastien Cattelan France
48.67 90.14 James Douglas USA
48.44 89.71 Chris Prin-Guenon France
47.73 88.40 Jerome Bila France
47.72 88.38 Sylvain Hoceini France
47.19 87.40 Taro Niehaus South Africa
46.85 86.77 Manu Taub France
46.71 86.51 Mike Hall USA
46.46 86.04 Marc Antoine Martin France
46.11 85.40 Geoffrey Mascarell France
45.89 84.99 Stephane Caous France
45.8 84.82 Patrice Menossi France
44.78 82.93 Hennie Bredenkamp South Africa
44.62 82.64 Fred Kloren Netherlands
44.59 82.58 Jernej Privsek Slovenia
44.27 81.99 Charlotte Consorti France
43.26 80.12 Sjouke Bredenkamp South Africa
42.14 78.04 Felipe Johannpeter Brazil
41.37 76.62 Marc Avela Spain
41 75.93 Maxime Richard France
40.21 74.47 Stefan Metzger Namibia
39.29 72.77 Sophie Routaboul France
39.14 72.49 Basil Cambanis South Africa
38.52 71.34 WolFRANCEm Reiners South Africa
38.19 70.73 Paul Railton South Africa
38 70.38 Melissa Gil USA
36.02 66.71 Ronan Harvey Great Britain
33.94 62.86 Tim Turner Australia
33.77 62.54 Peter Bjarke Olsen Denmark
Ship Waits Out the BlowIt looked as if Race #7 could have all the elements required to reclaim the title of world’s fastest sailor for the U.S.A., The Black Dog and team NASSP. Tide and wind looked like they could be good in the afternoon. Once again the wind came in above forecast and during the morning walk to Shark Island conditions warranted some excitement. Jamie said to his big bro, “it looks like the conditions could be good for a little going off.” Breathe, focus, prepare, concentrate and relax. The opportunity may come. Skipper’s meeting took place at 11:00am and the course opened at 11:30. Jamie was the first on the course, holding a 10m Cabrinha Swithblade borrowed from Melissa Gill. Taking advantage of the open race track, Jamie concentrated on his breathing and remembered Coach Gebhardt’s instructions, “just get down the course a few times and your body and mind will assimilate and adjust.” Rob was next on the course with his Crossbow 10. Black Dog team rider- mulitple world champion-Christophe Prin-Guenon
Getting in some early runs proved essential to warm up properly and could pay off later in the day as the conditions improved…and the ditch could be maximized. Rob and Jamie were soon joined by the 18 other competitors and the speed strip took on its high paced atmosphere with sailors exchanging runs and working their way back up wind crossing tacks. Team France / FONE lead by Alex, Charlotte Consorti, and Christophe began their charge. Rob hit a 44 on his first run, Jamie wiped out and posted a DNF (did not finish). Rob was full power and appling the throttle but was having control problems and crashed on four consecutive runs, on the super sketchy, narrow and shallow dog leg entrance to “World Record Alley” …all DNFs. Crashes here means a beat down at 50 knots over nearly dry sand. Meanwhile, Jamie had started to sail up to potential…leading all sailors on 3 consecutive runs with speeds in the 43-46 knot range…things were looking up for team NASSP. Sailor’s speeds were starting to increase as the wind strengthened and the speed strip came to life…the trench was starting to take effect as the tide level lowered allowing 6th gear if you dare. With decreasing tide level, and with each passing moment, sailors pushed the gear to the limits.Tension was mounting as the start became congested with aggressive riders anticipating world records. The start is crucial and speeds must be high at the narrow start….. top riders keep their eyes on the competition. Rob went for it and was followed closely by Jamie. Starting high, NASSP team members took the critical high line near the shore and chop killer, just upwind of a small island in the middle of the course. Accelerating past 50 knots and the starting line, Rob and Jamie could feel the pressure in their arms and the flattening water conditions under their boards….this could be a good run. Zipping past coach Gebi, who was positioned near the middle of the run on the shoreline, the wind continued to blow. Boom, boom…Rob got a 50.04 and Jamie got a 48.67…good enough for the 2 fastest speeds of the day On his next run Jamie managed a 48 – exploding just after the finish…this would be good enough for Jamie to claim best average for the day. The conditions continued to improve…Rob again applying max power was ready to recapture the outright world record. Wind strength and water conditions were perfect. Just when all the needed elements began to converge the course was closed by race officials due to safety reasons…Rob would have to wait for another day. Thus, race #7 concluded. Race #7 Results Best Speed: Rob 50.04, Jamie 48.67, Alex 48.55, Catman 47.46, Christophe 46.73.Race #7 Best Average Speed: Jamie 48.67, Alex 48.55, Rob 48.01
Melissa Gil takes new American Record!
Outright American Record Run Recap by Melissa Gil Fastest wind powered anything in the United States!I broke the USA record! Soooooo stoked! :) The race opened yesterday at 1 pm, but tide was too low to sail. Once the tide started coming in everyone hit the water. It was blowing around 27 knots. I went out on my 8 meter Switchblade and did as many runs as I could. In the beginning I waited it out because the tide was super low and I was afraid of hitting the sand bank just downwind of the trench. I did my first run downwind of the trench just to feel it out. As the tide kept coming in, riders started to run down the trench. I decided to go for it. I went by the start buoy, sailed about 40 feet and hit the sand on the bottom, I flipped, the board went flying away and then I found myself sliding across the sand bank on my stomach. Once I made it back upwind Rob met me and told me to follow him, so I did. We butt checked across the shallows right before the starting buoy, got in the trench and started our runs about 20 feet from the start, trying to accelerate as much as possible in the short distance. I hit 37.5 knots average across the 500 meter run. I did a couple more 37 knot runs and then the wind started to get lighter. I feel like I can go a lot faster, but what holds me back is being afraid of hitting the shallows. We are literally running down this 5 foot wide trench, with a sand berm just downwind of it and the chop killer made of wood planks (which some riders have already hit) running on the upwind side of the trench! But it is all about getting used to it and making as many runs as you can to get more comfortable. The forecast looks like there may be some wind on Wednesday and Thursday around 30-35 knots. We are hoping that the wind picks up a little more. Melissa
After another run at 44. knots I now knew we had to make a kite change. As I made my move to the pits, I saw that coach was one step ahead and had rigged the back up 9 meter CB………perfect! We switched quickly and discussed some issues that we were having and noticed the level of tide. It was now or never. The next run with the new kite at 2:22 felt good but different…….I picked a good line but not too aggressive with the new kite….. its not fast if I loose it in the middle and kiss the wooden chop killer fence at over 50 knots.
As I crossed the finish line I saw 48 kts on the display………there we go and heard a yell from coach who’s voice carried nicely downwind in the 40 kts..
At 2:30 we punched another 48 kt run and now felt ready to put the coals to the new kite on the next run.
At 2:43, and with time running out for perfect conditions on the day, I saw Jamie make a seriously aggressive run, high at the start and committed……….I saw his line and he had rolled the dice perfectly……I gybed, checked the green flag at the start, pushed my foot deep into the straps and committed to my next run. I smacked the start at over 48 kts knots and picked a high line against the chop killer…..the tide was really starting to suck lower now and was putting some heavy chop onto the course under a section of the chop killer…..I went defensive in the middle at 47 kts but picked it up to over 50 kts at the half way point. As I approached the dog leg and final section of “World Record Alley” I applied full power to the board and saw the speeds increase to over 54kts as I headed for the 150 degree downwind finish……a nice little gust at the end and I crossed the line at over 49.5 kts……….things were getting good.
The course, my mind and the equipment felt ready now. No time to change boards as the conditions were perfect and not going to last. On my feet I had the #7 board…….not my favorite but she would have to do.
At 2:50 I was back at the top of the course but things had changed……the fickle and always confusing tide in the 2nd lagoon had retreated and left a dry run up and entry area into the course. The course had the required water depth but getting to the trench before the start with enough room to get the speed over 50 wasn’t a possibility now. I had to wait and see if the tide would make a final push. The start had to be over 50 kts if I wanted a 50.5 kts or better run. For the next 20 minutes I waited at the top with one or 2 other riders and saw the tide move in and out. I took a sight on the beach and knew what I needed for water depth. I waited and waited, remembering coach’s words. “Sometimes, snipers wait for hours, even days for one shot…….it only takes one shot.”
At 3.12 the water in 2nd lagoon made its move and so did I. Here she goes………full power for one last run. I punished the staring line with the GPS reading over 51 kts and got a great piece of wind to carry me through to the middle of the course……..a quick drop in speed for the rough section to 47 kts and then max power to the Curtis fin and Mike Z. custom board and more sheet on the 9m Cabrinha Crossbow……. my speed jumped to 55 kts. I knew we had something at this point and now I had to survive the bottom and keep the power on. The bottom of the course felt good but my legs were shot after 3 hours of hard sailing. As I headed down the final section I was physically unable to stand on the tail but managed to cross the line at over 52 kts. I managed a quick peak at the display and saw a 50.5 go up and knew we had put ourselves in a position to win.
At approx. 10pm that night the official times were released and it had come down to Alex (F-21) and me for a new world record for kitesurfing. At the end, I had recorded a new American record of 50.95 (.2 kts deduction for current) and Alex once again like déjà vu was quicker by .03 kts or less than 24 cm over the 500 meter course………amazing. A true battle to the end and the birth of a true rivalry.
Final analysis of the run had me with the fastest max GPS run and the best start of gthe day but the 48 knot mistake in the middle had been a painful lesson. My GPS recorded a 51.58 run over the 500 but a 50.95kt run over the course……….so close yet so far. I am very happy to know that my 500 speed is world record caliber (Hydroptere 51.36) and tells us that we are close…..very close, healthy and ready for another historic opportunity in Africa.
Rob Douglas US-555
Outright American Record Run Recap by Rob Douglas.NOVEMBER 20TH, 2009
The new American speed sailing record happened on November 14th 2009 at 3:13 pm local or 8:13 EST.
I started Saturday with a plan. Coach Gebhardt and I discussed the strategy days before when Wind Guru (weather forecast) first showed the 40 to 45 kts of south wind for Luderitz. We knew the tide was going to be best at approx. 1hour and 15 minutes after the 1:27 pm high tide in 2nd lagoon. We had been watching the wind peak in Luderitz at around 2:30 for over 2 weeks………the tide and wind were going to come together to provide very fast conditions then, maybe even record conditions - and we would be waiting.
I launched early, at around 12:30 after the skipper’s meeting when the tide was coming up and made a few test runs in the 40’s…mid fleet speed, getting in about 25 minutes of warm up sailing. The 25 kts breeze and gusts to 30 were improving. A few quick warm ups to check the gear and check the mind. I planned to run the powerful 9 meter Crossbow 2010 from Cabrinha along with my smallest board oddly nicknamed “Big Dog” after the large artwork on the nose.
Weeks before I had sent brand new boards back to my shaper Mike Z. for a few last modifications and little did I know that the plans for the day would change. After a few sub par runs in the low 41’s and 42’s, I took notice of Alex Caizergues FRA and Seb Cattelan FRA who were posting first runs of 47 and 46kts……….the mind kicked in and started asking questions. “Yo, did you see Seb just mow down that 47 kt run like he was sleeping? Hey, Alex looked like he was bored with his 46 and just waiting to take over when the wind increases to 45kts”. Hey, Rob can you to pick up the pace? Just then my brother Jamie slipped a 43.5 run and the mind knows we have equipment problems. Not now!!!!
After sailing the 6 minutes up to the start, my next run topped out at 44 kts…….not too good if I wanted to stay close to the leaders as they made the push to the elusive 50’s. Not many sailors have made runs north of 50……actually only 5 in world history.
One more run at around 43 kts at approx. 1:30 and I jumped the chop killer and went to the pits to change up.. Coach was already there…he knew we had already been on the water forty minutes too long, burning the legs up too early……. things were not right and the plan was not being followed. I switched to my bigger board with more rocker, talked to coach briefly, hydrated and quickly went back out. I pushed a next run into the low 45’s…better but so was world record holder Alex who had moved into the 48’s.
I was burning the legs up that were going to be needed when the course got flatter and as wind built past 40kts………we were running out of time!
The weather has been unusual this year in Luderitz. Historically, November has been a very windy month with many rideable days. But this year, that pattern has been thrown off. Strong winds have been coming for periods of a few days at a time and they have been followed by extended periods of no wind- calmness or onshore notherlies and fog. Luderitz is a small, isolated and seacoast town of the southwest coast of Africa, surrounded by desert. When the wind is not blowing competitors at the Ludertiz Speed Challenge must find things to do.
There is always something you can do to go faster. Tweaking equipment can be an endless procedure. Fins, Kites, boards, straps and harnesses can be adjusted in the field. The Luderitz speed strip is a unique venue and testing for this event is best done here. Over the past few days the NASSP team has been making adjustments. (see pic of Gebi and Rob)
Our living quarters are now thoroughly covered in fiberglass dust, and etc. (Jackie would not be happy with us). Cut off pieces of tails and rails, fiberglass, and used chunks of sandpaper are accumulating. When traveling around 60mph over water our speed boards are resonating all kinds of pressure on our legs. A little more or less here or there can make the rider more comfortable and able to apply more effective horsepower from the kite to the water. The easier the ride the more the sailor can pay attention the course, no small feat when traveling around 60 mph over inches of water….that is why they call it sailing on the edge.Warma and Windy (sometimes)
Rob currently trails Alex by .03 knots for the kite speed world record. Rob needs about .30 knots to surpass the catamaran yacht Hydroptere to once again become the fastest sailor on earth. Jamie trails the 5th place competitor by .03knots as well and must show improvement if he wants to become a real player in this event. We will make some adjustments.
Wind is once again in the forecast for Luderitz. We will keep our eyes on potential pressure building for Saturday and Wednesday of next week. Keep you eyes posted to the blog for “Coaches Corner” as Gebi writes his first blog soon.
World Champion Melissa Gil Talks!
The best part of the trip is that the people are so nice. South Africans are the kindest and all the speed sailors are very friendly. I am grateful to be surrounded by such nice people.
Rob Sets New U.S. Record – Jamie 2nd fastest American Sailor!NOVEMBER 16TH, 2009
A new American overall record was posted by Rob Douglas with an average speed of 50.95 knots (Ratified) and a top speed of 55.5 kts /63.82 mph on the 14th of November. This is now the 2ndfastest kitesurfing speed and 3rdfastest outright sailing speed in world history.
Rob’s best run was a dramatic, end of the day, tide going out event. He waited near the top of the course for the best combination of wind and tide…the last competitor on the course of the day. With the tide near minimum requirements, Rob was forced to sail in the newly dug speed trench for the entire 500m.
Jamie posted his best run of 47.7 knots during Saturday’s competition in winds gusting 45knots. Jamie’s success rate for completing runs has been low, many resulting in crashes near the bottom of the course. With this speed Jamie became the 2nd fastest American sailor in history…surpassing windsurfer Roddy Lewis (44.21 knots in Fuerteventura, Spain in 1995) Still developing his stance and gaining more kite / board knowledge / control, Jamie is happy to have moved up in the overall event rankings…currently sitting in 6th place. The other American sailor is Mike Hall of St. Petersburg, Florida just a few places back.
Sunday brought less wind (35 knots) and a more square course as the wind backed into a southerly direction. Rob won the day with a 50 knot + run out pacing Alex Caizergues (current world record kitespeed champion) of France who posted a run of around 48.5 knots, 2nd place for the day. The wind has now gone calm in Luderitz. Competitive conditions probably won’t arrive until later in the week.
With these recent results Team Black Dog / NASSP currently are the two fastest sailors in US history.
Rob With Back to the Chopkiller at 50+
November 15th, Melissa Gil made it!
Rob takes top speed, Mike Hall personal best!
Today began a couple hours later than yesterday as riders waited for the tide to drop and the wind to peak. After yesterday’s great conditions and fantastic results, many riders wanted to conserve their energy to make sure they were taking full advantage of the run when it was at its optimum condition. While conditions were good, they weren’t as huge as yesterday. It was a touch less windy, and there was some strange chop throwing up sudden rough patches.
The fastest time of the day went to Rob Douglas (Cabrinha) who again managed to hit 50 knots - a dream for most riders, but not good enough to be the fastest at this year’s Speed Challenge. The second fastest times were recorded by Jerôme Bila (Genetrix) and Alex Caizergues (F One), both of whom did 48.5 knots (unofficial). There were several other riders who were hovering around the 47 to 48 knot mark.
As we hit the halfway point in the competition, many riders are starting to hit their stride, as they become more familiar with the course, and their equipment. Two riders who achieved their personal bests today were Fred Kloren(Genetrix) of the Netherlands with 46 knots, and Mike Hall (Cabrinha) of the USA, who did 47 knots. He was super-stoked, this being his first time on the speed board. He has to do fifty knots, otherwise he’ll be shunned by his mates when he gets home to the States.
Sophie Routaboul was part of the organising team at last year’s event, and a kitesurfing novice then -- today she was dfoing regular runs in the high thirty-knots, and steadily improving, breaking personal bests with every successive race.
Melissa Gil (Cabrinha) arrived at the strip in Lüderitz today from the USA, more than a little unimpressed with British Airways for leaving her bags behind, including most of her gear. One kite and her spare harness was all she had -- other competitors lent her a wetsuit and spare boards. None of this fazed her - she got onto the strip and gave it horns, and hopes that the airline’s promise of her bags arriving here tomorrow will materialize.
And as the Speed Challenge continues, a lot of riders have also started to increase the number of runs they do in a day. You see the same riders come blasting down the strip, time and time again, as the intensity of the competition becomes greater. It will only be a matter of time before more national records start falling.
Tomorrow, the conditions are also expected to be good for racing, and riders are now preparing themselves for a fourth consecutive day of competition.
November 14th NASSP Report - Rob in 2nd @ 50.95 knots !NOVEMBER 14TH, 2009
Saturday saw winds around 40-50 knots as forecasted. Official speeds have just been released…Alex in 1st with 50.97 (new kite record), Rob in 2nd and just behind with 50.95 (previous best was 50.54), and Seb. In 3rd with 49.31knots. Ideal water surface conditions existed at around 4pm when the winds were maxed. 9m kites fully lit. These ideal water surface conditions exist for approximately 1 hour as the tide goes out and the lagoon becomes shallower. Rob’s 2nd place run was in the speed ditch…this means his back and shoulders were literally several feet away from the 1st chop killer – an amazing feat while speeding at almost 60mph. Not to overblow it but this speed course puts sailors on the razor’s edge. The speed ditch, when the tide empties, is surrounded by a wooden fence and dry sand…the width of the speed ditch is approximately 4’. WOW !
Jamie’s best run was in the neighborhood of 47.5knots (with a total of about 8 complete runs down the course in lifetime) and will be official in a few hours.
Sunday’s forecast looks like lighter winds so it should be a good tuning day. Check luderitz-speed.com for new from the official event website.
The NASSP team is just getting settled into the course after the 1st full day of record conditions and will continue to push for higher speeds…one run at a time !
Heard the Vineyard had a good NE blow the last few days…with winds getting up to 40knots as well…sounds like speed sailing conditions in Cape Pogue.
As For Melissa Gil, not sure were she sit's right now but this was her last email!!!!
Take a look at this video! We have four American's there going for the out right world record! I was supposed to be
there but do to back problems I will be the guy posting the video's here in the states and sending candy!! I will keep
you up to date as records fall!
Rob Douglas, Jamie Douglas, Melissa Gil, and Mike Hall