Racing

Kites Take the Speed Record

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There is sadly little detail—and of course, everything waits for official ratification—but there is every reason to believe that we have a new sailing speed record of 49.84 knots set by an American, Rob Douglas, with a kite. Douglas is a windsurfer who took to kites only in June. There has been a lot of speculation that kiting development would overtake the lead of windsurfers in speed challenges, and now, here we are.

The run of 49.84 knots was recorded over a 500 meter course in the second annual Lderitz Speed Challenge in Lderitz, Namibia, on the Atlantic coast of southern Africa. South African Sjoukje Bredenkamp upped the women's record to 45.20 knots, breaking her own record of 42.35.

Your author has seen it reported that, "Douglas was sailing a stock, out of the bag, Cabrinha XB IDS 7m." Be that as it may, Douglas had his record run on Saturday, September 19. The event runs through October 13, and yes, there are people who are sniffing 50 knots.

So far:
Rob Douglas 49.84 (and new outright world record)
Sebastian Cattelan 49.59
Alex Caizergues 48.69

New women’s outright world record:
Sjoukje Bredenkamp 45.20 – beat her own record of 42.35

And a report from event organizers:

Sjoukje Bredenkamp was the women’s outright speed sailing world record holder going into the Lderitz Speed Challenge 2008, and was expecting to better her old record. As it turned out, on Day 4 of the event she smoked it …bettering her 42.35 knots set in Walvis Bay by almost three knots, hitting 45.20 knots.

“I’m really stoked,” she glows, “I didn’t expect it to achieve it this early in the event. My goal was to break 45 knots, but to do it so early is absolutely insane. It just shows what can be done. I can’t wait to try and push it even further this afternoon.”

She has been doing a lot of preparation for this event with her dad, Hennie Bredenkamp, who also smashed the old 44.62 knot South African record which he set last year with a run yesterday of 47.59 knots. Hennie does the design of the boards, and then works with the Goose – Angus Welch of Cape Doctor boards – to shape them. Fins come from Microfin in France.

They’ve made some changes over the last year to the board: “We have a new board with a different shape – more rocker, more flex, and also some other ideas we’ve been working on,” she says. She is also very happy with the kites: “The new (Naish) Helixes have a bit more bottom end grunt. I’m absolutely loving them. Dad and I have a similar board and kite setup, and we both absolutely killed it yesterday, so we seem to have a winning recipe.”

Bredenkamp spent a lot of time training over the Cape Town winter with Hennie and Sebastien Catellan. “I spent a lot of time on the water doing winter speed sessions, getting my head right and my stance perfected. I stand more upright, but I can twist hips more than the guys to get the best position.”

She is currently in the Top 20 outright world record holders, both men and women, and looks like she has the potential to even move into the outright Top Ten, which now sits around the 46.5 knot threshold. Can she pull out another knot and a half? “I was planning on taking baby steps, but it looks like it’s going to be quantum leaps.”

Posted September 21 by Kimball Livingston

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