Luderitz Speed Challenge vs Mother Nature

​Manfred Merle: Previous German Record Holder. Image:

The preparations for the 2015 Luderitz Speed Challenge was severely hampered by unusually high tides which did much damage to the kilometer long channel just two weeks before the start of the event. The damage to the canal provided a huge challenge for event founder and organiser, Sebastien Cattelan.

It is only due to his enormous experience at building this artificial kilometre long canal combined with perseverance and huge personal effort (14 hour days/7days a week) and with all available local machinery (not easy in the middle of the desert in Africa!) that the canal was 99% ready by 05 October, the first day of the 2015 event. However, the winds were not strong and constant enough during the whole course to allow the windsurfers to tackle their PBs and/or records. The kite surfers had no such issues. They performed from day one and in fact, the Czech Republic National Kitesurf record fell on only day 2!

Those riders who know that this sport is dependent on the weather and at the mercy of Nature, make the most of every opportunity to maximize their performances. The originally lower than perfect water-level has been taken care; originally with pumps and not with the assistance usual high tides. Thankfully, the high tide has now come back and is currently filling up the canal quicker and more efficiently (than pumps) and the canal is now getting longer and deeper than ever before.

The critical factor which allows riders to better PBs and break records is THE WIND. The winds have only been strong enough for the windsurfers to sail properly two days this week. However, on the *off-days* has allowed both windsurfers and kite surfers to train and to fine-tune their new equipment for stronger coming winds and better (wind angle) conditions, at the start and end of the 500M official distance.

The expectations of all riders coming to the Chris Benz Lüderitz Speed Challenge event is now higher than before due to the fact that this event has produced an unbelievable number of national records (now 79) and 12 world records! However, no matter how good the canal is, performances are dependent on two other main factors: strong constant winds and perfect wind angles. We are confident that LUDERITZ will once again deliver strong winds, it is now case of how well prepared and focused the riders are/will be in the coming weeks.

Below are some excellent performances already achieved, during this, the first week of the 2015 competition;


· Martin Hulinsky (Czech Republic) has set and broken his country’s national Kite surfing record no less than 5 times with an ultimate speed so far of 43.52 kts

· Heidi Ulrich (Swiss ladies windsurfer), participating in her first Speed Challenge, continued to improve with 36.47 kts and is getting close to the current ladies Swiss Windsurf Record of 41.25 kts held by the Champion Karin Jaggi.

· French Kite surfer Sylvain Hoceini, repeatedly beat the 50 kts five times this week, broke through the 51kts barrier 3 times and is currently leading the 2015 event with a highly impressive 53.04 kts. His persistence and training since Monday (05.10.15) has definitely paid dividends as he has also beaten his personal best of 52.90 kts, achieved at the 2010 Lüderitz Speed Challenge event!

Yesterday (11.10.15), most of the riders have taken the opportunity to train in moderate wind and to get more used to the channel to be 100% ready for when the much stronger winds come next week. The current weather forecast shows very good days on Thursday and Sunday with good conditions in between. Until then (due to the Namib Desert & Atlantic Ocean’s wild nature), the organizers will continue to work hard to keep the 1 kilometre long canal in the best possible condition.

Seb, Sophie and their team wish to thank all riders and followers for their valued support!

Source Luderitz Speed Challenge