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Lüderitz 2009 Prelude PDF Print E-mail
Written by Basil Cambanis   
Tuesday, 06 October 2009 21:41

Event news and results

Paul Railton's video of the event thus far, gripping stuff !

Other recommended videos
You can download Seb's track file HERE

Map of Namibia
Update : 31 October 2009

There will be racing tomorrow wind permitting; Sunday's forecast looks the best at this stage. The forecast for next week looks light, so hopefully this changes. There'll be a fish braai early in the week when the wind is light.
Racing will take place tomorrow even if there's lighter wind (20+) to allow competitors to get used to the course and to allow them to fine tune the barrier and further test the timing system.

The opening ceremony took place this morning, more pics and mp3 of choir to follow.

Competitors gather after the opening ceremony

Seb and Sophie with Lucas (Luderitz tourism officer - left) and the acting mayor (right) 

Paul getting his heart rate and blood pressure taken, something all competitors under went today before racing tomorrow

Heiko added a layer of glass to the tail of my red board this afternoon to hold it together for the rest of the week. This needs to be sanded and finished off before racing tomorrow.
I've learnt a lot about the type of stresses and strains placed on the speed board during this last week, and I'll plough this knowledge back into the design of the next one.

I'm not fully recovered yet, but I cannot miss tomorrow as there's little wind forecast for next week. My injuries have improved a lot since Friday, and a big thank you to Mike Gebhardt  (US coach) for giving me a host of tablets to speed up the recovery process.
LEFT : Board midway with repairs to it's tail

Update : 30 October 2009

Today was calm and not much to report. There'll be an opening ceremony tomorrow (31 Oct) at 10am at the Luderitz Bay Town Council Chambers.
Little wind is forecast until Sunday, and next week looks much lighter than this week, let's hope the high strengthens and the lows veer South.
Hopefully the pressure systems change and we get a few stronger days for the 1st week of competition.

Update : 29 October 2009

It's midnight, and we've been offline for a day and half.
A lot has happened since Wednesday, and the following stand out :
1. Seb had a 61.795 knot peak, 56.885 10 second average, and 53 500m yesterday
2. Hennie had a 58 knot peak and 53.397 10 second average yesterday
3. Seb and Alex both recorded a 50+ 500m runs today, the timing company measured these
4. Stefan recorded his first 40+ run on an Airtool speedboard

I had a good session yesterday, but had a bad wipe out on my 4th run today. I've sprained parts of my hands, but my right shin took the worst of it when my bent leg somehow got stuck over the bar during the crash, the kite then looped 3 times with me still stuck on the bar; I was helpless at the time.
I'll have to lay off for a few days and hope there's nothing too seriously wrong when the swelling goes down.
I'm naturally very disappointed for missing an epic day's wind and to now have to sit on the side lines while I heal, my time here is rapidly running out.

I missed the best tide yesterday as I had to repair the cracked tail of my board, which I only discovered as we were leaving.
But I still managed to improve on most of my speeds and achieve some of my goals, I had a 52.85 peak, 50.45 250m and 47.93 500m.

Special thanks to Filipe and Gus from Brazil for all their help today, they amazed me with their rapid response and all the assistance they gave in every way imaginable; and Gus really knows a lot about first aid. Thanks for helping me in my time of need, you are true friends.
Thanks to Heiko Metzger and sons who are locals and have also bent over backwards to help everyone around them, especially me. They helped me yesterday when I discovered I had 2 flat tyres at the lagoon. Heiko took a tyre to TrenTyre in town to see what could be done while his son's tried to pump the remaining tyres; then today he gave me ice to help reduce the swelling while his son's helped derig my kite with Filipe and Gus. Quality folk to say the least.

There's been at least 20 knots every day since last Friday when we arrived. There's been several 30 knot days and 2 days where it peaked at 51 knots.

Alex, Rob, Jamie, Manu and others arrived over the past few days, so the stage is set.
Phenominal speeds have already been recorded and more are to follow.

Seb's top 5 peak speed yesterday (not sure what he did today, but it's good) :
  time        m/sec  knots
12:58:27    31.8   61.795
12:18:07    31.5   61.192
12:26:58    31.0   60.201
13:07:23    30.9   60.006
12:49:33    30.6   59.482

10 Second Averages :
12:27:03   292.6  56.885
12:49:35   292.2  56.800
12:18:10   290.8  56.530
12:58:31   288.9  56.149
12:08:32   276.3  53.713

Graph from both GPS's of Seb's fastest run

Tabular data of both GPS's for his 10 second speeds

The wind is expected to start subsiding from tomorrow until next Tuesday, so I'll give myself until then to mend.

Believe it or not, I've had 3 punctures tyres in 2 days (they're write offs), and I had to buy a low profile tyre as an interim measure while they order replacements (from Windhoek), as they don't stock the size I require.
I suspect this is due to nails/stakes on the road to the lagoon (keep to the middle), as there's road works in progress.
I seem to be a magnet for trouble at present, so it's time to think positive and say a few prays tonight.

I'll post a mind blowing video tomorrow, so be on the look out . . .

Update : 27 October 2009

Diaz beach
Diaz beach today in a stiff breeze, what a spot.
I'm placing my order for a port tack board with immediate effect.

The wind was better than forecast and Paul and I kited ourselves to a standstill today; we had great experiences throughout the day.
First it was rushing to the strip to catch the last of high tide so the water was still up to the barrier, then there was a seal pup on the speed strip which I got really close to.
Then the wind jacked a bit and I switched to the Genetrix and did some low flying in the shallows; and finally we went to Storm Vogel Bucht for a late afternoon session (near Diaz Point - speed & surf).

It's 1am (28 Oct) and I'm super tired, so heading to bed to catch some shut eye before the serious blow tomorrow. I estimate it'll be 50+; Thursday's looking good too, then it'll back off a little.

I need to change my fin as it's creating stress along the tail area, and cracks are starting to form by the screw holes. This is due to the fin not having give while the tail flexes, and it's a microfin which is 20cm long.
It'll be a real pity to lose the use of this beaut of a board just as the wind nukes.

PS. more pics posted to the gallery. I'll post video clips as soon as I've converted them.

Morning Report :
Not much to report on yesterday as it was the least wind we've had while here.
It blew 20+ knots in the morning, but we missed it thinking it would improve throughout the day, instead
it dropped after lunch.
We went to Diaz Point regardless and I tried one feeble run on Sjoukje's port tack board in the dying wind; what a spot though, it's like glass !
I sliced my foot in the process on Manu's speed fin when I stepped on it while trying to change the footstraps to fit my boats. The razor sharp fin was hidden in sand and extended beyond the tail.

We also took a look at "Storm Vogel Bucht" on the way back; it has bigger waves than Diaz but is starboard (like 2nd lagoon) and broader.

The wind looks promising today, so we'll try Diaz Point again, this spot is too good to pass up, and the tide is not suitable at 2nd lagoon in the afternoons at present.

A BIG blow is on the cards for tomorrow, so expect some massive speeds soon.
I've just uploaded more pictures, and will post action shots tomorrow. Be sure to check them out.

Update : 25 October 2009

What an epic session and one of hope.

The wind nuked up to 52 knots when we got to 2nd lagoon, there was sand everywhere and spray out to sea. Hennie and Sjoukje were a welcome sight in these conditions as I didn't want to go it alone.
The tide was not ideal as high arrived late when the wind was already on the decline.
The bank shape constantly changes when the water's not up to the barrier which makes it mostly guess work as to what line to take and still be safe with the water depth.
I didn't want to risk all on day one and stuck to the deeper water for the most part.
I learnt a ton by watching Hennie and Seb, as their lines are smooth and controlled, and they take a super shallow route.

I improved upon all my previous personal bests yesterday which I'm super stoked about, and escaped without a single wipe out (touch wood).
My peak speed was 51.93 and 48.884 over 10 seconds.
Paul also improved upon his previous bests with a 45.622 peak and 42.747 10 second average.
We should both improve here on in as this was only our 3rd day in Luderitz.

There's another blow forecast this Wednesday, so let's hold thumbs for another epic day.
It'll be low tide in the afternoon though, so it'll mean another dance with the devil to clock fast speeds.

Wall to wall wind is forecast and we couldn't be happier. If the forecast pans out, we'll kite for 7 straight days in no less than 25 knots.
The next wind cycle might start as soon as next Monday, and this cycle only ends on Thursday; so there'll be plenty of action and sore muscles by then.

All the best for now, we're heading to Diaz point so I can try my hand at windsurfing for the first time in almost a decade. Hennie's already there and I'm trying to get my butterflies to fly in formation.
Appartently it's blowing 20-25 at present. Tide is wrong for kiting today.

Posted 09h40 : 

The wind is looking promising today, it's just before 10am and there's already a decent breeze blowing and no cloud around like the previous days.

I've uploaded some pictures to the Gallery, go have a look.

Update : 24 October 2009

The wind on Saturday was better than on Friday (peaked at 25-30), but it only got going late, around 4-5pm.
Paul and I improved on our speeds marginally (low 40's), and it gave us new found respect for what the top sailors achieved here last year (50+).

I spoke with Seb yesterday, and he's confident that the course changes will make another 2 knots possible in the same wind verses last year.

Update : 23 October 2009

Paul and I got to Luderitz safely yesterday afternoon after a long 2 day drive.
The wind was light by Luderitz standards, but enough to let us play around on the speed strip and shake off the cob webs. I also go to ride my new Airtool board for the first time, and it looks promising.
There was only us, Seb, Sophie, and a local Luderitz family there, so it was nice and relaxed.

The barrier is almost complete, and still needs a few boards at the top end of the course, but the poles are already there.
There are using fewer boards this year to prevent strong currents from forming on the sides, and they'll dig a trench at the top end of the course where it's shallower to give a longer window of sailing with the required half beam water depth rule still in effect from the WSSRC (World Speed Sailing Record Council).
It's amazing how the nature of the course changes as the tide rises.

Slightly more wind is expected on Saturday, so let's see what happens.
Several riders will be arriving then and a few more on Tuesday next week.

A big blow is expected this SUNDAY; there won't be official timing as the event only starts on 1 November, but watch out for some super fast speeds from the top riders none the less.

The forecast for the first week of the event has worsened, but a lot can change before then.
More updates and pictures to follow soon as I settle in here.

Update : 21 October 2009

There's now a few days of wind forecast in early November, but those lows might still spoil the party if they're not muscled out.
The wind is still light by Luderitz standards, but there will be a few days where it blows decently. 

Here's what the latest predictions look like :

Friday 23 Oct - 20 kt
24 Oct - 20-25 kt
25 Oct - 25 kt
26 Oct - 30 kt
27 Oct - 20 kt
28 Oct - 10-15 kt  (no kiting ?)
29 Oct - 10 kt  (no kiting ?)
30 Oct - 10-15 kt  (no kiting ?)
31 Oct - 20 kt

Sun - 25 kt
Mon - 30 kt
Tue - 30 kt
Wed - 20 kt
Thr - 15 kt  (forecast up to here at present - on the decline)
Friday 6 November  (no kiting ?)
Sat - no kiting ?
Sun - should start improving
Mon/Tue - back in Joburg; but I might extend our stay by a few days if it's due to nuke

The route we'll take to Luderitz from Johannesburg is :
1. N14 to Upington
2. N10 to Ariamsvlei which is the border post into Namibia (open 24 hours)
3. B3 to just past Karasburg where it intersects the B1
4. B1 to Keetmanshoop 
5. B4 through Seeheim, Goageb, Aus and then to Luderitz 

Update : 20 October 2009

The long range forecast has changed dramatically once again, and shows those lows factoring in heavily once again.
A low South of Luderitz results in light wind, as it needs the anti-cyclonic High to drive the desert wind (hot high/desert -> cold low/Atlantic).
I really hope the Atlantic High wins this battle, else the wind could slump from early next week right up until around 5 November.

This will mess up my planning completely, and I'm sure for many others too.
It's my son's 9th Birthday on 13 November, so if it doesn't blow properly soon I'll be forced to postpone my trip and catch the tail end of the event.
This means no practice on the back of poor wind throughout the year, so I sure need it.

Update : 19 October 2009

The forecast is looking better all the time and those pesky lows in early November will hopefully not factor as much. 
We leave for Luderitz this Thursday (23 October), and it'll take us 2 days to get there as we spend a night over in Upington. Paul Railton will be joining me.
The wind should start on Saturday, and it should remain right up until the end of October.
Friday the 30th looks epic at this stage !

My goals while there depend on the wind and how quickly I achieve them, but it's important to have targets in any event.

Initial targets are :
  1. 45 knot 5x 10 second average >> done
  2. 100 km p/hour peak (53.996 knots) >> 52.883, so just shy
  3. 55 knot peak >> not yet
  4. 45 knot 500m average >> done

Ultimate targets are (worth a try) :
  1. 50 knot 5x 10 second average >> got 1x 10 second over 50 so far
  2. 60 knot peak >> tough ask, especially now that I've messed up leg and hand 
  3. 50 knot 500m average >> as above

I also plan on windsurfing for the first time in MANY years, so this should be fun to watch.
I'm taking along a custom speed needle built a while ago by a late good friend of mine, Peter King.
He was was a special lad who added colour to life in every way. He was the total opposite of a little man in a grey suit, and this acted as the voice of reason when I worked myself to a stand still.
He's the reason I try to live life to full ever since his passing.
On my first run at Diaz point, I'll say "he's to you my good friend".

Peter King's board
The one of kind speed needle that Peter King built. I'll try and do her justice Pete. 

Update : 17 October 2009

The forecast has improved, but there's still no nuking forecast on the radar just yet. 

I've started preparation for the trip and created a list of some of the tools I'm taking with to carry out minor repairs if needed; I'm driving this time, so I can take more goodies :
  1. Corded and Cordless drill with allen, flat/philips, socket, drill bit heads
  2. Panel beater's plane
  3. Variety of screw drivers
  4. Variety of files and various grades of water paper
  5. 2 part epoxy and putty
  6. Body putty
  7. Hacksaw
  8. Variety of screws and washers
  9. Portable mini metal vice to hold screws or small objects while filing them down
  10. Cable ties
  11. Duct and insulation tape
  12. Tent and storm pegs
  13. Nylon rope

I collected my new Airtool speedboard from Garry in Durban on Wednesday, and it looks like a cracker.
We've tweaked several aspects on the board which should allow greater control at speed, these includes rocker/flex/profile refinements. I cannot wait to give her a maiden voyage.
I spent this afternoon fitting her out; here's some of the prep work done : 
  1. Filled and sanding minor dings on the rails and near the tail area (from airline).
  2. Test fitted the tail fin to see where it works best based on the flex and rocker pattern. Garry drilled 3 holes for adjustment, so I filled the other 2 holes that are not being used
  3. Measured and cut deck pads to fit precisely,  factoring in the wake at the different areas along the rail
  4. Measured and ground down the footstrap screws based on the thickness of the board (which varies)
  5. Sanded and fitted nose fin to match the rocker
Airtool MKIII
Latest Airtool board ready for action. I'm prepared to share my knowledge as promised; we'll advance speed sailing far quicker by sharing information.

Airtool MKIII

Sleek MKIII Airtool speedboard. It has a softer profile with gradual taper and flex towards the tail.
As yet, it's untested, so who knows what speed she'll do. One more week to lift off.

There's some wind forecast from Friday onwards, so I'll weigh up the longer range forecast and possibly leave on Thursday next week if it looks promising. The long wait is almost over !

I'll post my personal targets and milestones I hope to achieve at Luderitz soon; these have nothing to do with world rankings, they are purely personal goals.

Update : 16 October 2009

Seb says the barrier will be similar to last year's, but they'll "dig" to improve the angle and duration of adequate water depth.

It seems the shift in weather patterns that plagued the Sterkies event is also affecting the wind at Luderitz. There are unusually long gaps between the windy days, mostly due to the Atlantic High that creates the Cape Doctor not being in place or strong enough.
I was due to leave for Luderitz this Sunday (18th), but I'll postpone my trip until I see decent wind forecast.
The next wind is more than a week away, but still no nuking wind in the pipeline for 2+ weeks.
Hopefully this pattern changes soon so we can kick into action.

 Luderitz Run
Sebastien Cattelan finishing a blistering run at Luderitz in 2008

The 2009 Luderitz Challenge speed event is almost upon us and records are bound to tumble.
Since the event's inception in 2007, new records have been set there each year.

Alex improved upon the kite speed record by some margin in 2007 without a barrier, Rob Douglas became the first kiter to take the outright world record in 2008, Seb became the first sailor to break the 50 knot barrier, and Alex raised the bar further the very next day to 50.57 knots.
The Hydroptere hydrofoil French yacht recently took back the outright sailing record, and raised the bar to 51.36 knots in the process.

I will drive to Luderitz from Johannesburg this year so I have freedom of when to come and go, which will be wind dependent.
Last year I flew there and it took 2 flights (Jhb-Walvis-Luderitz), shuttle bus hire and a nights accommodation each way.
The biggest inconvenience with flying is fixing dates months ahead and excess baggage charges for each leg of the trip.
It'll take 2 days to get there by car as it's approximately 1800 km, but the freedom makes it worthwhile.

The long range forecast shows strong wind next Thursday and Friday, and then tappering off from there.
I'm not sure when the next wind cycle will be thereafter, but it won't leave much time to practice.
I cannot leave for Luderitz until 19 October due to various commitments ranging from moving office, house alterations and the like, but as the forecast currently stands, there won't be much point getting there before the 24th after the blow next week.

Equipment Checklist

  1. Speed board, and spare. At present, the best speed shape is still asymmetrical with flex in tail. Nose weighting is added when the wind really gets up or if the course is choppy. 
  2. Kite sizes from 5 to 9 sqm for speed. This also depends on the type of kite, i.e. the F-ONE DOS and Genertix are vastly different due to their design. The Genetrix is flatter and can handle much stronger wind for the equivalent size DOS. I will practice with my 10 DOS in lighter wind, and use the 9 Genetrix when it's blowing 30+ knots.
  3. Locosys GT-31 GPS to see your peak and average speed of each run; you can also do post session analysis. 
  4. Wetsuit; it needn't be too thick as the water's not cold inside Second Lagoon, it's more for basic protection; but sailing outside of the lagoon (Diaz) is another story.
  5. Spare lines, as breakages are common when crashing at speed. Mid to longer line lengths are used at Luderitz as the course is broad.
  6. Helmet to ward off the weighted nose of the speedboard or the barrier
  7. Impact vest to offer protection during crashes. I cracked a rib through an impact vest last year, so this is a must.
  8. Neck brace; some say that it's saved their life after they rag dolled in a crash, others say is can causes a hinge point and thereby worse injury. Not any neck brace will do, it needs to be purpose built.
  9. Knee and ankle brace, as these are the most common injuries.
  10. SEAT harness is a MUST to lower your center of gravity and help you direct energy into the board. A spare harness is a good idea as they can get shredded in a bad crash.
  11. Quick set epoxy and waterpaper to make repairs when needed.
  12. Arnica to sooth sore muscles.
  13. Energy powder for a boost when needed.


I'm still not sure if there'll be a barrier and what type of barrier it'll be this year, but regardless, the most important factor besides wind is the tide.
Spring tides cause a strong surge of water either way during the day which means choppy water, so Neap tide is preferable.
Last year we needed Spring high tide to have the required water depth by the barrier, and this only lasted a short while even when the tide was right.
This year will be very different from what I understand, and we'll be able to clock times for much longer when the wind's blowing.
Assuming there's no barrier or it's further out in the lagoon, the best tide is a neap low tide in the afternoon.

As such, I've assembled the tidal graph of the most suitable days for speed over the next month :
Tidal Graph

More news, wind forecasts and tips to follow shortly . . .


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GPS Sessions

GPS Top 5 2012

Name Ave. Max. 500m
1. He.42.1348.8729.21
2. Laurent H.34.2934.6927.30

Top 10 All Time

Name Ave. Max. 500m
1. Sebastien C.56.0261.7853.06
2. Alex C.52.7360.5945.32
3. Gavin B.51.8955.4051.36
4. Tilmann H.51.6855.6050.30
5. Manu T.50.5353.8049.26
6. Basil C.50.4953.4950.85
7. Jerome B.50.1255.0050.40
8. Rob D.49.9754.8551.55
9. Hennie B.49.6252.8049.47
10. Rolf v.48.6655.7547.90

Latest sessions

Name Ave. Max. 500m
1. He.42.1348.8729.21
2. Laurent H.34.2934.6927.30
3. Ole K.48.3652.2948.06
4. Basil C.44.8250.8931.90
5. Ole K.42.5344.6741.01

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