Namibia wouldn't rank in the recall of most as one of the world's significant sailing venues. But for the past week or so the Luderitz Speed Week has been under way as the sailing speed freaks attempt to set new world marks. The event attempts to set a speed record, recognised by World Speed Sailing Record Council, over a 500 metre distance.
Sailing in an 800-metre long trench carved out of a lagoon, the riders seek out the 60-65kt winds for which the region is notorious before making another run down the track. The area is chosen as the course lies at 140 degrees to the prevailing winds which can hit over 60kts. Today it is recorded at 66.4kts. Competitors take off in a start-up area before turning into the speed run.
A new, yet to be officially recognised mark was set in the windsurfer category. But record or not, the sailing is spectacular - and video footage even more so. Coming off a board at close to 50kts makes AC75 splashdowns look fairly tame by comparison.
Seeing a rider chase an errant wingsail over the sand dunes in a 60-65kt wind is also a unique aspect of the event. All caught on video.
The current official record for a windsurfer was set by Antoine Albeau (FRA) in 2015 of 53.27kts. Belgian Vincent Valkenaers hit 53.25 kts yesterday - a mere 0.02kts short of the world record, but overnight the Belgian set a new unofficial speed measuring 53.33 knots average on the 500 metre course. Subject to ratification by the WSSRC, he is now the second fastest windsurfer in the world.