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This trick can be done in most wind conditions, so long as there's enough to do small jumps.
Your approach speed depends on your level of experience, how many turns and what height you want. Increase your approach speed if you want more height or turns. You don't need much speed or height to do this trick, especially if you want a single rotation.
You should have your hands at the center of the bar, especially when trying this for the first time. This prevents you from pulling the kite too harshly to either side mid-move.
The main difference between this and a normal jump is that you carve upwind more aggressively before popping off the water, and then look over your shoulder in the direction of your leading hand as you leave the water. You don't need to be aggressive with your take off or head turn if there's plenty of wind, or you're jumping high enough and only want a single rotation. In this case you want to spin slowly. Look to the right if you're on a starboard tack (travelling with righthand leading) Look to the left if you're on a port tack (lefthand leading). If you want to do this while unhooked, then unhook just before popping off the water.
Look over your shoulder to initiate the spin in the direction you're looking, as your upper body automatically tries to face the direction you're looking, especially without your feet being anchored.
Your kite position can either be the same as for a normal jump if you want some height or leave it in the same position throughout (around 11 o'clock) and just pop off the water. How aggressively you move the kite through the window will influence your height and landing speed. For a slow soft landing move the kite from 11-12 o'clock to initiate the jump, sheet in slightly and hold at zenith (12 o-clock), then back to 11 o'clock before landing. This depends on the wind strength and your jump height.
3/4 of the way through your last rotation (or sooner if you're higher and doing multiple rotations) start spotting your landing zone and adjust accordingly. Look at your landing zone. If you're rotating too slowly, try tuck in slightly by lifting your legs to give yourself more room/time and prevent the nose of your board digging in. Sheet your bar in a bit to buy you more time and cushion the landing, but don't fully sheet in your bar for too long else you'll stall the kite. If you cannot fully rotate each time, try carve your board straight upwind (briefly) before releasing, try get more height and look hard over your shoulder. If you're rotating too quickly and in danger of over-rotating, either go for another rotation (tuck in legs and look hard over shoulder to speed up) OR try to slow down your rotation and reduce your height by looking in front or you instead of over your shoulder, and extend your legs slightly to meet the water sooner, but never land with dead straight legs (else you'll injure yourself). You can also try sheeting out the bar gradually to increase your rate of decent.
If your rotation speed and rate of decent match, then just look at your landing zone.
Remember that your lines will be wound up the number of times you've rotated, so you'll need to spin your bar in the opposite direction accordingly.
If you don't have enough time to spin the bar upon landing (near bank/shore/tree or another kiter), you can first take evasive action and then spin your bar; your front and back hand will remain the same as before the jump, even with the lines wound up, the kite just reacts slower.
Sail Rocket thunders past 60 knots in grand style, 67.74 knots max, and 65.37 knots 500 average !!!!
Paul Larsen says it best : "Sooooo Happy! Just so, so happy. We did something amazing today. The numbers.... christ... I don't know where to start on this one. What a ride... what a boat. Just uploading the data now. The 65 + knot average was for 18 seconds... the trouble is that it only takes 15. 5 seconds at this speed. The container is rattling in the wind and everyone is just buzzing, swearing and shaking their heads. So happy that Malcolm was here to share this. That was a great battle with speed-spot today. She wasn't giving it up easy. This boat is tough. Things have changed. BPV must have felt that distant 'boom' and all of a sudden felt a little old. Yeah something special just happened."
21 November 2012
Antoine set a new windsurfing record of 52.05 knots ! Most sailors have improved their previous best speeds and 6 sailors are now over 50 knots.
19 November 2012
Sail Rocket beat Hydroptere's Nautical Mile (1852m) record with a stunning 55.5 knots at Walvis Bay yesterday (18 Nov). They have improved both the outright 500m and NM records by the largest margin in history. The forecast shows strong wind there this Saturday, hopefully it's not too strong so they can smash the 60 knot average.
17 November 2012
Day 6 of racing in Luderitz turned out to be a treat with the wind reaching 40 knots. 5 Riders went over 50 knots, and Antoine Albeau set a new Windsurfing World Record of 51.69 knots !
What's more is there is almost non-stop wind forecast for at least another week, so who knows how fast they will go by then.
16 November 2012
Still to be confirmed, but the record books have well and truly been rewritten today by SR2 (Sail Rocket), and congratulations are in order. They did a 59.23 knot average and 62.53 peak (to be ratified) which raised the outright record considerably.
I'm sure they will break the 60 knot average and then some on the next windy day. This takes it well out of reach for all except and handful of contenders. It's clear that a dedicated speed kite and some careful thought into the design of our equipment is needed if we are going to challenge at the new level, wherever it might be in a few weeks from now. I salute Paul and the SR2 team for what they have achieved, this is just be the spark needed to take speed sailing to the next level. I think the only way we can compete beyond 60 knots is to make our rig more efficient and get it to perform better on tighter wind angles, else we'll just need more and more wind which kicks up more chop.
13 November 2012
It was bound to happen and today was the day, 2 Windsurfers smashed the 50 knot barrier in Luderitz. Luderitz Speed Challenge states, "Anders Bringdal broke 1st the 50 knots with 50.41 knots and then 50.46 knots! Antoine beat him after with 50.59 knots". Well done guys, you have rewritten the record books in a big way. Cédric Bordes must be chomping at the bit to join them, and I'm sure he will, very soon. It is also my youngest son's Birthday today (Peter), so a very special day indeed.
12 November 2012
Paul Larsen skippered the SR2 (Sail Rocket 2) to record speeds today with a 61 peak and 54 knot average. This is huge news and proves that there is plenty more to come. They have been tinkering with SR2 for a while to try find the right balance; and it looks like they found the winning formula.
6 November 2012
As our window of opportunity closes to hold the Sterkies event this year, the first day of racing is about to unfold in Luderitz. The wind should reach around 30 knots today, and improve further tomorrow. I cannot wait to see what speeds the top speed sailors reach in the new canal.
24 September 2012
I'm glad I didn't go full steam ahead with the speed event, as the right conditions did not materialise.
We got to the dam at dusk on Friday, and there was a strong West wind blowing (ideal for speed); but the rain started pelting down as night fell, and it blew and stormed throughout the night. Saturday dawned sunny with a fresh NW blowing; but the sky soon turned gray and the odd rain squall made it unpleasant at times. The wind blew a fair lick at times (up to 38 knots), but it remained NW as I feared making too choppy for speed. Sunday blew much stronger than forecast (10 ave, 15 peak) and turned out to be a stunning day; warm and sunny with a fresh wind for most of the day. Monday was a calm sunny day.
There is a lot of rain about very early in the season; so I reckon it will take a minor miracle to get another blow decent enough this year to warrant holding the event. But let's see what October holds.
20 September 2012
It looks like a rainy and windy Saturday on the cards. The rain is bound to make the wind erratic at times, but it should blow solidly at some stage during the day, and if the rain stays away it might even nuke. I'm going regardless and will be prepared in case she delivers above expectation, as it did a few weeks ago. We are lucky that a decent blow like this has landed over a long weekend; don't pass it up as the wind inland will be on the decline soon.
19 September 2012
The forecast is not ideal, as there might be rain on Saturday and the wind too North for speed. But then it's Sterkies we are talking about and anything can happen; so get there and we will hold the event if the right conditions present themselves. The pre-frontal winds will start from tomorrow, and there's a good chance it will blow until Sunday morning.
Expected weather THURSDAY : Warm and sunny with moderate wind FRIDAY : Fine and warm becoming partly cloudy; wind freshening later in the day SATURDAY : Cloudy and cooler with chance of rain, but Windy ! Should start from the North and swing more West by 2pm SUNDAY : Chilly start and 50/50 wind wise. It might nuke West early on depending on the passage of the front.
17 September 2012
The forecast has improved over the past 24 hours and we might hold the event after all. What concerns me though is that there is a chance of rain on Saturday which is bad news for wind, and the direction might be too North for speed (but good for big-air). The pre-frontal wind starts on Thursday, so if you are lucky enough to get there early, you will be rewarded with 3 straight days of wind.
16 September 2012
Cold front on the way, but it might hit a day too soon for the long weekend and lacks in strength; it would be very convenient if it did work out. Plan B; there's another front lurking the following weekend which might be stronger. A lot can change; so I'll keep close watch on these and hope that one of them works out.
11 September 2012
Ouch, the medium and long range prospects for wind have both dropped out; it seems as though I put the evil eye on the wind. The long weekend is still 10 days away, so hopefully it swings back in our favour by then. Since our chances of strong wind worsen with each passing week; I'll have to jump at the next opportunity (if any) irrespective of the day of the week.
There's been very little wind this winter (similar to the past 2 years), there was one strong blow on 11 August (when I was away), and couple of decent blows on 8 June and 1 September. It's been a difficult to hold the speed event since 2010; hopefully this pattern changes soon.
8 September 2012
The forecast for this weekend has dropped, and we've had a very cold snap and torrential rain at times over the past 2 days. The wind for next weekend also looks bleak at this stage, but the forecast for the long weekend looks promising. I'll keep tabs on it and let you know if it holds.
4 September 2012
The wind this coming weekend looks too light to hold the speed event, and the boat show is on and several competitors will be there. There might be more wind the following weekend, that will make it 5 straight weekends with wind !!! Our target is now one of the following 2 weekends, namely 15-16 Sept or the long weekend thereafter.
3 September 2012
The forecast for this coming weekend is too light to hold the speed and big-air event, so take it easy and relax for now. There is bound to be at least one more decent blow before the Summer doldrums arrive.
30 August 2012
There is still no big blow on the cards, and with each passing week the odds of this diminish. But on the flip-side, there has been wind for 2 weekends in a row, and next weekend looks like more of the same. The long range forecast still looks positive for decent wind 7-10 days from now, so be ready. I'll post updates during the week if it still looks positive.
22 August 2012
I'm back and there seems to be wind on a regular basis these days. There is only moderate wind at present, but I see some good prospects approaching from the West. We'll hold the event as soon as the next strong front hits; the long range forecast shows this might be just after the first week of September. Hopefully that happens, as our chances for wind diminish with each passing week. At least the air temps have risen considerably; the water temps will improve too, but at a must slower rate due to the depth of Sterkies.
7 August 2012
The wind looks excellent this coming weekend, but unfortunately I'm away and so is Ocean2Air (Mauritius), so we'll have to have the event later in the month; but at least it will be warmer then. It snowed in several places throughout South Africa today, and Sterkies measured a balmy 0 degrees C. Regardless of temperature, if I were there these would be green light conditions for sure !
How's this for a nuking forecast for this coming Saturday : Gert Fouche says it blew so strong in the afternoon that everyone was just watching in awe.
24 July 2012
Winter is almost over and there have only been a few moderate wind days which is disappointing to say the least. Each year seems to get worse than the last. The water temp will be really cold until mid-late August, so take it easy until then. I'll sound the alarm if a decent front is lurking from mid-August onward.
29 June 2012
There is some wind lurking next week, there's a peak on Wednesday and again on Friday. Given the chilly temperatures at this time of the year, I reckon we rather wait until mid-August to get the show on road. If you're a die hard, then you might be able to get in some practice before then. There still hasn't been a big blow this Winter, just a couple of moderate to fresh days so far. It's bound to happen at least once during Winter or early Spring; and I'll let you know when it does.
22 June 2012
We're still in a holding pattern for now.
There is a strong breeze in Joburg for change, "46 km/h / 12.9 m/s from the North" quoting Wunderground at ORT at 10h40. There is a lot of cloud about today, and rain is imminent. That's the main reason we're not going ahead this weekend, as cloud and rain are wind inhibitors at Sterkies (besides storms).
21 June 2012
I will rather pass up the wind this weekend, as it doesn't look strong enough, and some rain is forecast which never bodes well for wind. Watch out for next week though, there might be stronger wind then.
18 June 2012
There's some wind at Sterkies this weekend, but it looks a bit light to warrant holding the event at present. I'll let you know if this changes.
8 June 2012
The wind blew early while I was fixing the weather station, but I wasn't in a hurry as I thought it would peak later. As it turns out, it rained and the wind backed off around midday which is unusual. It was still a nice outing and a wonderful feeling to be racing across the crystal clear waters once again.
In hind sight it was fortuitous that I postponed the event, as it wasn't the epic day I'd hoped for; it peaked around 33 knots in the morning.
Here's early warning; the forecast for 23/24 June looks decent at present.
7 June 2012
By golly the wind is going to rip at Sterkies tomorrow; it's already howling and will find another gear tomorrow. Clear the decks at work, as you might need to take a day off mid-week soon.
6 June 2012
Evening Edition : I've spoken to a number of people, and the majority cannot make it. There's a mix of reasons, including being overseas, injured, insufficient warning and work. But the real show stopper is that the Durban guys won't make it, as they've just finished another event. Since it won't be a proper event without them, I have no choice but to POSTPONE.
It's a real pity as it's going to howl, and conditions will be ideal for speed and the big-air contest. But the KZN guys have promised to make the next roll call, and several others will also be able attend then. I will try to give you as much early warning as possible before the next big blow, but bear in mind that long range forecasts are only rough estimates. I'll let you know up to 10 days ahead when I see a powerful front approaching, and give you updates if it's still tracking.
The long forecast shows that the next chance of decent wind is around 21 June. If this doesn't materialise, then we're probably looking at early July.
Morning Edition : Need I say more :
Just to reiterate, this will be both a SPEED and BIG-AIR event combined. Decision on whether to postpone or not will be made this evening.
5 June 2012
The forecast for this Friday looks excellent and I'm considering going ahead with the Sterkies event. I know this is short notice and during the week, but I'm worried that the next decent wind hits in July, which will be very cold.
Let me know if you can make it so I can get an estimate of riders. You can Mail me here : basil at ffpro dot co dot za
31 May 2012
The next Sterkies event is almost upon us, so be ready. The seasons have definitely shifted over the past few years, and the Winter winds seem to arrive later each year. The South Atlantic High pressure system (West of Cape Town) is still too dominant and preventing the fronts from reaching inland, but this will change soon.
We'll once again combine a Speed and Big-Air event based on the success of last year's event. We are still having moderate temperatures inland, and this coupled with the depth of Sterkies means the water shouldn't be too cold yet. I will replace the power supply on the weather station while there so we can keep abreast with the weather patterns from a distance.
Last updated : 11pm 24 June (more pics added to gallery) Rob Chrystal emerged victorious overall in speed and the big-air event. He also played a vital role in KZN winning the Inter-Provincial trophy. Congratulation Rob, nice ha-trick !
It was a tough call to convene this event as only 1 day of decent wind was forecast and time was rapidly running out with it getting colder the longer we waited. I decided to go ahead as the forecast looked solid (up to 45 knots) and it fell directly on a public holiday.
The wind unfortunately didn't blow as strong as I would have liked, and it remained fairly North throughout which is unusual. When the wind is too North, it results in a lot of chop and swell in the bay which limits speed. Despite this, we still managed to run the first big-air event at Sterkies with great results, and ran the speed event after the big-air contest. Due to the
wind moderating and the broad angle, the speeds were not as good as we've seen in the past. Course racing was not run as the big-air and speed events were given priority while the wind was decent, and most competitors left early on Friday morning. Next time it will definitely be run. We learnt a lot from the first multi-discipline event and will use this knowledge to improve in the future. I'm ecstatic that 5 juniors competed in the event; this is a trend that I hope will continue.
5 judges (all volunteers) were used to determine the hang-time of competitors. It was based on a competitor's time in the air; timing starts when they leave the water and stops when they land. Competitors have to successfully land the jump in order for it to count. There were some huge jumps and few spectacular crashes in the process. We ran 4 heats, and each heat comprised of 4 competitors. The top 5 competitors went into a final round to determine the winner. Depending on how many competitors we have, heats will be limited to 5 competitors at a time to avoid over crowding, promote better safety, and give the judges more time to score the jumps.
0.3 of a second separated the first 3 places in the Big-Air contest.
The speed event took place after the big-air, but the wind was lacking juice by then and remained too broad, so the speeds were not stellar and it was difficult to clock fast speeds with the chop and swell running into the bay. Competitors still gave it their all and recorded respectable speeds given the conditions. Rob, Paul and Luke featured on top of the list once again, and Joshua put on very consistent and impressive performance throughout all the disciplines. 0.6 of a knot separated the first 3 places in the Speed event.
KZN outnumbered Gauteng 2 to 1 and dominated in all disciplines. Luke Thomas was the only spanner in their works, and prevented KZN from making a clean sweep.
Competitors will be seeded (ranked) in future based on the past 2 events so that they are grouped accordingly. The most recent event carries more weight, so missing events will result in a poor rating which means you might not get the pick of conditions, i.e. top ranked competitors will be given priority when best conditions prevail. This will allow competitors of a similar skill level in a given discipline to compete in the same conditions (wind angle, strength, etc.), and in so doing level the playing field.
Top seeds are most likely to take full advantage of the strongest wind, and those new to the event or still progressing generally don't want or need the insane conditions. The big-air ranking is as per the results below as it was the first event. If you were not present at this event, then you will be unseeded at the next event. The speed ranking is as follows : Basil Cambanis, Paul Railton, Rob Chrystal, Joshua Emanuel, Anton Nel, Bruce Chrystal, Reese Hendrikz, Luke Thomas, Calvin da Silva, Steve Taylor, Warren Gallow, Christoff Muller, Schalk Kleyn, Lorenzo Valenti, Brendon Webber, Steve Gore, Beau White, Erik Gibson, George Krafft, Wern de Villiers, Dean Hinkins, Rowan Hayes, Anna Hayes, Rowan Hayes (Jnr), Justin Faragher. Others are not seeded.
Since the number of entrants vary significantly each time, I don't know how many shirts to have printed, so there's either a surplus (as at this event) or we're short. So in future I'll have top-quality shirts, and maybe a few jackets and beanies printed with generic Sterkies event branding (done discretely so they can be worn anywhere). I'll sell them at cost to those that want them. The event is run on a non-profit basis, and after the event expenses (trophies, fuel, GPS's, boards, buoys, etc.) there's no margin for clothing. If we secure a sponsor for the clothing, then they'll be handed out free of charge as in the past.
The design of the trophies has changed at each event and there are currently 9 trophies on offer : Overall speed winner (floating) Twintip winner (floating) Big-Air winner (floating) 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for Speed 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for Twintip I'll add a big-air winner and runner-up trophy at the next event, and a course race winner's trophy (floating) bringing the tally of trophies to 12. So there'll be 4 floating trophies and 8x positional trophies which competitors get to keep. The trophies constitute a large chunk of the reoccurring expense, but are important to recognise the achievement of competitors and motivate others to try and get one.
One or more course races will definitely be run at the next event. I apologise to those that attended the event with the intention of entering just the course race. We had enough wind on Wednesday afternoon (15-22 knots) to hold a course race, but everyone only arrived on Thursday. And the wind blew early on Friday morning (20-31 knots), but the KZN crew wanted to get back in time for the SW'er. I trust that those that attended had a great time, and I look forward to seeing larger numbers at the Spring event when it's warmer.
TX4, F-One Bandit4 10
Long Ocean, F-One Bandit4 10
JOSHUA EMANUEL [Best Peak]
TX3, F-One Bandit4 10
Airtool, Genetrix Hydra 9
F-ONE Bamboo, F-One Bandit4 10
CALVIN DA SILVA
Xelerator, Mutiny 9
TX4, F-One Bandit4 9
TX4, Genetrix Hydra 9
Brunotti Youri Pro TT, Flexifoil Ion4 7
Aboard TT, Flexifoil Hadlow Pro 7
Unknown, Mutiny 9
Steffen Begere set the best hang-time of the event with 6.8 seconds during qualifying. He had a crash early in the final that put pay to his chances. Steff is definitely one to watch in the future.
Here's one of Rob's jumps caught on camera :
Airtool, F-One Bandit4 10
Airtool, Genetrix Hydra 9
[Best Peak] [1st Twintip]
Airtool, F-One Bandit4 10
Long Ocean, F-One Bandit4 10
Airtool, F-One Bandit4 10
CALVIN DA SILVA
Xelerator, Mutiny 9
Flexifoil Hadlow Pro Board, Flexifoil ION 4 8,5
Xelerator, Flexifoil Ion4 7
Xelerator, Flexifoil Hadlow Pro 7
TX4, F-One Bandit4 7
Custom, Naish Helix 9
-, North Rebel 9
Counts for Inter-Prov results
Airtool, Genetrix Hydra 12
Erik Gibson was the winner of the lucky draw prize kindly donated by Erik with his Mystic Warrior Waist harness Inter-Provincial Trophy
KZN won the trophy for the first time in a convincing fashion. Well deserved guys !!!
The average of the top 3 riders are averaged per province to get a result. KZN Rob Chrystal 38.83 Paul Railton 38.50 Joshua Emanuel 38.21 Average 38.51 knots
Gauteng Basil Cambanis 44.27 Luke Thomas 34.73 Brendon Webber 25.93 Average 34.97 knots
Special Thanks to :
Bruce and Rob Chrystal from Ocean2Air for sponsoring the event and their continued support.
My wife Nicolene and my boys Michael and Peter braving the cold conditions, doing the scoring and so much more. It would have been very tough going without their help.
Greg de Beyer from for bringing his event trailer which provided much needed shelter from the elements and from which the scoring was done. Greg also brought loads of coffee, tea and cup-a-soup, and donated towels to the competitors. I'm overwhelmed by your generosity !
Garry Robinson from Airtool for his attention to detail and willingness to help. His speed boards are first class and play a vital role in my performance.
Justin faragher from for racing off in a blink of an eye in his bakkie to fetch my kite when it released after a crash.
Bjorn Gaston, for the excellent photos he sent me; I've added them to the gallery.
Last but not least, to the competitors for their support and braving the cold. KZN in particular pulled out all the stops. Thanks to those select few Vaalies who supported the event.
Notables not present were :
Christoff Muller who was on a work assignment in the Western Cape and unfortunately got back a day late.
Gert and Christiaan were sick and on antibiotics; both called me to apologise, thanks guys.
Warren is frantic with studies and work and couldn't make it; he too called me and is always a great help.
Anton Nel was giving kitesurfing lessons at Palm Beach on behalf of Joluka, and Kobus Filmater joined him.
Dean Hinkins was under a lot of work pressure and mailed me explaining his situation.
Come on Western Cape, get there; this was the 6th event you've missed !
The wind blew over 30 knots for 3 straight days making this the windiest event to date on average.
Saturday saw gusts reach 36 knots, Sunday 42 knots and Monday 44 knots. The temperatures were warm up until Sunday despite all the wind. The Gauteng turnout was very disappointing considering the wind drought we've had, but thankfully KZN showed their support once again and made this a memorable event.
We could not run the speed discipline as the wind direction remained NW throughout which makes the run short and the water very choppy. The Big-Air contest more than made up for this though, and there were some spectacular jumps, some were awe-inspiring and the best I have ever seen at Sterkies.
I will upload pictures and video clips of the action within 24 hours.
The new canal's finish area, see below for more Pictures and Video, and visit the Photo Gallery
As a good friend of mine (Mark Kerrigan) put it : "It's like surveying a secret military base..............somewhere in the desert of southern Africa some strange craft have been spotted cruising at speeds of over 100km/h ...with NO engines.........absolute proof that the government is keeping secrets away from us and is in cahoots with some alien technology, I would advise against drinking the water there in case its been chemically altered by the guys in black suites and funny sunglasses".
Yes, there's strange things going on in the Namib indeed, and it involves digging the ultimate speed trench to extend the boundaries of speed sailing. The new canal certainly looks the part and should yield some massive speeds over the next few weeks. It's been built a few hundred meters upwind of Second Lagoon to take it beyond the inter-tidal zone; this is mutually beneficial to the sailors and environment. Only spring high tide will reach the canal, so mother nature will top her up twice a month. The canal is a few degrees broader than it's predecesor, and will need 40+ knots to make records possible. It's also deeper and wider than before making it suitable for windsurfers too. A real plus is that the canal is more of a constant, and will allow sailors to dial it in with each successive run. Safety is naturally a concern going over 100kph with no water downwind, but water becomes like concrete at these speeds anyway. The hazard is the abrasive surface and the odd stone; all the poles have been removed and relocated upwind. Going for world records has always been a dangerous persuit, and this is no exception. The sailors know the risks and take them willingly in their quest for personal growth and records. We each have our own goals and motivators, mine is to exceed 100 kph, and Seb's is to be the first to 60 knots (he was the 1st to 50 & 55, and Alex was 1st to 100 kph with 54.1kts).
With each successive increment in speed, we are testing the limits of physics and learning in the process, we have to evolve to stay in the game.
Anders Bringdal in action on 31 Oct when he clocked a 50.72 Vmax
13 NOVEMBER 2011 : Evening Report : Mother nature had the final say today, and it only blew 30 knots with occasional gusts a bit more. Seb clocked the best speed of day with 51.36 knots (there's that number again); he was the only one over 50 knots. There were 4 decent wind days over the official timed period (31 Oct, 1/10/11 Nov); but the first 2 were prior to the canal improvements so they couldn't be capitalized on, and the sudden drop in the wind today caught everyone by surprise, as it was forecast to be the strongest. I'm sure one more big wind day would have done it, but that's how it goes. There's so many variables at play that it's rarity when they all come together.
A lot of lessons were learnt from this regardless, and the new canal has proven to be an A-grade speed venue for windsurfers, there's no doubt that they can break the 50 knot barrier here. Although the flag was not firmly planted from the kiters' perspective, we've seen enough to know that on the right day this site is capable of rewriting the record books. Afternoon Report : The Luderitz airport have not reported the wind strength for 6 hours which is unusual, so hopefully this means it's too windy for flights to take off and land. The last reported wind was 20 knots at 8am, but that's too early to tell much. It sure is windy in Johannesburg for a change and it's blowing over 30 knots at Sterkies, so hopefully it reciprocates there. I would be on the water for sure if it weren't my son's birthday. Morning Report : It's my youngest son's 11th Birthday today, so we're having family and friends over at our house (Johannesburg). 1300km to the West lies Luderitz where riders will try make the most of the last day of decent wind during official timing. They have it dialed in by now, so everything depends on how strong it blows. The Windguru forecast has weakened somewhat, but GFS pressure charts still show a tight gradient in that region (35 knots of ambient wind).
12 NOVEMBER 2011 : The wind was lighter today, but still good enough for some to reach 50; Taro had a 50.88 500m average and 55 knot peak. The forecast for tomorrow has dropped slightly, but it should still be stronger than today. By virtue of it being the last day of strong wind before it's over, I'm sure all the riders will go for broke. Breaking the 60 knot barrier will be a tall order for Seb tomorrow (as it's unlikely to be nuclear), but the current outright record of Rob Douglas (55.65) is definitely reachable. I sincerely hope it blows like mad so Anders can break the 50 knot barrier, and Seb can show us the true potential of the new canal.
SailRocket2 are hell bent on claiming the outright record and is a likely contender this year; so regardless of what the kiters do tomorrow, we might be chasing down the record set by a boat within a few weeks time. I think this will be healthy for the sport and generate more interest. It'll also unify the kiters with a common goal; and a lot more will be achieved this way.
11 NOVEMBER 2011 : Results : Sebastien Cattelan improved to 52.6; I expect him to climb until Sunday, then WHAM-O ! Stefan Metzger set a new Namibian record of 51.36 knots which equals Hydroptere's record, Anthony Chaffron improved to 42.92 despite being injured, and Humberto Torrinha improved the Angola record to 41.21.
Anders Bringdal had yet another 50 peak (50.1) and improved his Swedish record to 47.44 knots. This should land him first place on the windsurfing GPS rankings. The wind blew stronger in the late afternoon and was a good strength (40 to 50+ knots). It was slightly squarer and the course less choppy. Morning Report : Another day of strong wind lies ahead, so it'll be interesting to see if the speeds climb.
Apparently the water level of the canal was not topped up and there was still a fair bit of chop present yesterday, so the exposed bank means riders had to run the gauntlet to post good speeds.
Here is an interesting graph of Anders Bringdal's fastest and slowest 500m runs yesterday. The blue area is the timed run (start on left and finish on right). His fastest run had the lowest peak speed (47.5) out of the 9 runs he did, and the run with the highest peak speed (50.3) peak was his worst average which is unusual. A pattern I've seen among all riders is the best speeds are recorded at the start and end of the run, with a pronounced dip in speed towards the middle of the run. I'm not sure if this is due to a wind shadow or momentum being lost after the slingshot start. I still reckon they should take averaged wind readings along the course to know for sure.
10 NOVEMBER 2011 : Results : Taro Niehaus set a new South African record of 51.64 knots, and Seb had 51.2. I'm not sure what Anders's 500m average was, but he had another 50+ peak today (50.3 kts). This is a phenomenal effort and well deserved; Taro didn't hold back, which takes a lot of guts and confidence in your equipment and ability. It was not easy going out there, and despite this he came out unscathed and clocked the best speed so far. Well done Lighty, I salute your achievement !!! Strong wind is forecast until Sunday, so I'm sure the speeds will climb further. Seb took a break over the past week and I have not doubt that he will dial it in before Sunday, which is forecast to be the strongest day.
Morning Report : The big day has finally arrived, and we eagerly await the outcome. Today will be the first proper acid test of the revised canal; these changes coupled with the strong wind means we should see some really fast speeds.
The water level in the canal was also topped up last night by means of a water pump, so it'll be safer and there should be a nice laminar flow across the canal. Most of the riders have been resting in preparation for today. I'm really excited to hear the outcome.
PS. I've been asked what speeds have been achieved thus far. They have not been great compared to last year; peak speeds around 55 knots and averages just over 50 knots. But, this was prior to canal changes.
8 NOVEMBER 2011 :
The next wind cycle starts on Wednesday and lasts for several days; it will be their last chance during the official timing period. Michael Ellison (WSSRC Commissioner) moves on to Walvis Bay from 17 November to preside over SailRocket2's outright record attempt.
It's going to be windy for sure, but probably not be as strong as what they had last Monday (31 Oct); so it'll to be interesting to see how efficient they can be in less wind with the improved water state.
My guess is they'll record faster speeds in less wind for the following reasons :
They won't be holding anything back, as this is the last windy spell before home time.
The canal improvements will allow for a much faster start which is crucial for better averages.
The flatter water state and safer leeward bank (beveled) will give them greater control and instill confidence to go for it.
The course is being moved further down the canal as there's cleaner and stronger wind towards the finish (channels along the rock ridge). This means a longer run-up and faster finish.
Further tweaks that can be done to improve the water state are (these can be considered for 2012) :
Ensure the canal is filled to the brim to make it safer and have a laminar wind flow over the canal. This will create an even and predictable ripple across the water surface, and clear air. (Anders/Basil)
Dig tributaries that branch off at 45° from the main canal every 80-100m to divert the wave energy. They should have sloped sides and progressively get shallower so the chop/swell breaks and expends all it's energy rather than refracting back into the canal. (Anders)
The canal should progressively get wider from start to finish to diffuse the wave energy. (Martin van Meurs)
Plant sea grass which is a natural chop inhibitor. This will make the canal unsuitable for windsurfers (unless trimmed before the event), but it will create a glassy surface no matter how strong the wind blows. This need not be planted throughout (although it might spread), we just need curtains of it at regular intervals to prevent the build up of chop. The sea grass can be synthetic if there are concerns of it spreading to Second Lagoon; it can be laid down as mats. (Basil)
The entire leeward bank (#1 in diagram) should have a gradual slope so that it's safer (no sudden stop if you crash), and the wave energy will expend itself on the leeward bank rather than wrapping or being channeled. This means the canal can be made wider. A smaller slope on the windward bank (#2) is purely for safety if the water level is not full, and so that children/animals that accidentally fall in can climb out. (Basil)
The bottom of the canal can have ridges/ruffles to act as a hand-break on the swell/flow of water. (Basil)
Any other ideas are most welcome, so long as they don't harm the environment or cost a fortune to implement.
I also suggest that the wind direction, and average (over 5 mins) and peak wind readings be taken simultaneously at different points along the canal to determine the wind profile along the canal. This will determine whether the course is optimally situated.
6 NOVEMBER 2011 :
Good on Anders Bringdal for taking the chance and coming on short notice when he saw the big wind forecast, and a few hours later was setting some blistering speeds on his windsurfer (21cm Assy fin, 2012 pre-production Mistral board and prototype 5 Assy sail). There was a real mess with his GPS's on 31 Oct, so his GPS session posted was from the day after (1 Nov) when the wind was lighter. Firstly his GPS was set to only read every 2 seconds and therefore did not record his historic peak speed, and he later exchanged his GPS for another which was set up even worse; Memory & Data Logger were switched off, so nothing was recorded; and his 5.7 sail had a small hole in it, so he used a 5 instead. Despite this, his speeds were still good enough to land him second place on the GPS ranking (by a whisker). Were Anders not so tired from his trip and wearing the correctly configured GPS's on the first day, his speeds would have been even more impressive.
It's far from over though, he might still record the first ever 50 knot 500m run as early as next week, as there a string of windy days coming up, and the canal improvements should improve his peak and average. The reason other windsurfers (and kiters) were not invited is this year is intended as a test, approval to dig the canal took 8 months and was not a certainty, and hosting a fully fledged event on short notice would have added extra pressure on Seb and Sophie.
5 NOVEMBER 2011 :
I'm busy compiling the footage from Luderitz and will publish it over the next few days. More digging was done on the canal yesterday to improve the start and end of the run, and the sand ramp on the windward bank has been removed. The sharp edges on the leeward bank have also been removed to make it safer. These changes coupled with a full tide next week should improve the speeds and safety. Trials will be done at Storm Vogel bay this afternoon, and racing will return to the canal later next week. There's a string of decent wind days coming up soon.
3 NOVEMBER 2011 :
I left Luderitz yesterday afternoon, and have been in transit for 2 days. Now that I'm back at home, I'll catch up on sleep and tell you what's been happening; it's exciting stuff.
1 NOVEMBER 2011 : Evening Report : The wind was not as strong as yesterday (as expected), but it made a good account of itself (35-45 knots) and allowed most riders to improve their speeds (better water state). Humberto Torrinha became the first entry on the Angola national record list with a respectable 33 knots; this was his first time in Luderitz and on the canal, and his first time on a speed board.
Morning Report : The wind is building quickly this morning, so let's see what today holds. We've had a taste of it in hectic wind, and it was a handful; but we might go faster today in less wind.
31 OCTOBER 2011 :
Evening Report : The wind sure did blow today, apparently it reached up to 55 knots at times; but it was a tough day out there. The wind was pretty gusty, and there was some nasty chop towards the end of the run. There were no great speeds recorded from the kiters today, but Anders Bringdal made the most of it on a windsurfer and recorded a very respectable 47 knot 500m (new Swedish record - still to be ratified) and 50 knot peak, which is extremely rare in windsurfing. Wolfram Reiners set a new German record of 46 knots (still to be ratified) on his very first run. There were a few spills due to the chop and gusts/lulls; but luckily none were serious. I also had a skirmish with the canal bank when I sailed into a bad lull and suddenly headed up. The wind will be a bit lighter tomorrow which might improve the speeds if it's steadier, and there should be less chop.
Midday Report : The big day has finally arrived; the timing equipment is set up, and ready for action. I've returned to my room for an hour to wait for the wind to strengthen. It's blowing in the upper 20's at present, but building fast. I'll try make a few tweets during the day (signal permitting) to keep you updated. The Twitter section is top-right on the home page.
30 OCTOBER 2011 :
The forecast for Monday hasn't budged, so we're still on track for a big day tomorrow. The wind has been odd this year; there's been lots of moderate wind days, but no big blows until now.
This might be our only chance, as the long range forecast doesn't look great. There might be more wind around 12 Nov, but that's too far off to attach any weight to it. All the planning, preparation and waiting comes down to a single day; which distils further to one run lasting 16 seconds over 500 meters. 16 secs = 60 knots /111 km per hour, 18 secs = 54 knots/100 km per hour.
29 OCTOBER 2011 :
There's moderate wind today, but all eyes are on MONDAY !
The forecast is holding fast, and we expect epic conditions for speed within 48 hours.
28 OCTOBER 2011 :
It blew in the 20's again today, but I rather ploughed through work and rested physically.
The forecast for Monday and Tuesday next week looks very promising. Records will surely tumble if it carries through.
I reckon we need wind averaging in the 40's to make it possible. My nerves are already tingling in anticipation.
27 OCTOBER 2011 :
Today was a light wind day, and there was no training or racing.
The wind will remain light until Sunday; thereafter it'll hopefully return with vengeance so we can see what speeds are possible in the canal with strong wind.
The tides will be better next week too, as it's moving towards neap tide, and low tide will be around midday. So the canal won't get flooded and the water should be smoother. The only downside is that the walk back will be longer.
26 OCTOBER 2011 :
Similar wind to yesterday; there were pockets of stronger wind, but still not close to what we're hoping for.
The wind will start to subside from tomorrow until Sunday; but Monday looks like the real deal if the forecast holds. No mistaking it, stones will fly.
The wind's different to the way I recall it though; for the past 4 days it's peaked by midday and slowly subsided from there, whereas it used to peak around 3pm.
It also seems much gustier; let's hope Monday blows itself back into shape.
25 OCTOBER 2011 : The wind was steadier today and each day has increased slightly, but it's still not enough for going nuclear. A plan was put into effect today where 2 people are based near the upwind water mark to catch kites; as it's so difficult to walk upwind for 300m in the slippery mud. It's more tiring than the run itself. The wind hovered in the mid-20's with the odd spurt hitting 30 knots, so it was just a training day, and no official timing was done. There'll be similar wind tomorrow before it subsides until early next week. Next week is a mixed up affair; one minute the forecasts shows strong wind, and the next it looks dismal. So we'll have to wait until nearer the time to have a better idea. GPS Track for my 1st run today 24 OCTOBER 2011 : The wind blew slightly stronger today, but still nowhere near enough for the speeds we're after. There was a strange mid-layer of cloud today which suppressed the wind and made it gusty. These are not what I call typical Luderitz conditions, and the forecast for the rest of the week has dropped; the next decent blow shows on Monday at present. We must just be patient and Luderitz will eventually do her thing. 23 OCTOBER 2011 : Today marked the start of the wind cycle, it was gusty and hovered in the 20's; which I'm told is normal on the first day of wind. It was a gentle introduction of the riders to the new canal. The best average was 45 knots with peaks just less than 50 knots, which is good going in these conditions. What I found is there seems to be a lot more wind towards the end of the run, but time will tell when it blows stronger. Getting back to the start was done by either beating back upwind in the lagoon and walking the rest of the way, or catching a lift on the back of a bakkie. The timing system worked flawlessly, so we're all set for the big day to see what speeds are possible.
There was moderate wind this past week, but Monday and Tuesday next week look epic, so let's hope the forecast holds : Click on the forecast above to get an update Video Clips
My first cruise down the canal on the afternoon I arrived
I thought it would be neat to capture it from the air too, so I duct taped my camera onto a strut
My apologies for not publishing this article sooner, but I was asked to not publicise the "event" by the organisers as this as a testing phase rather than an event, and they only want to show case it in 2012 once they know it's safe enough; then all the top riders will be invited. They also only received approval to build the canal at a very late date and didn't have enough time to notify all the competitors or get organised in time.
My friend was closer to the truth than he knew; we've even had spy planes survey the canal. Jokes aside, thanks for Bernt Bruns for the amazing Areal Footage of the Canal. Annotated Google Earth view of the new canal. Download HERE