Luderitz, Namibia: The Fastest Place on Water


Once a year kiteboarders converge on a specially modified canal in the quiet coastal town of Luderitz, Namibia. These men and women come to Namibia annually to smash and set insanely fast World Speed Sailing Records at the Luderitz Speed Challenge. The contest is open to almost anyone who can get themselves to Luderitz from 7 October to 17 November 2013 and has their own kiteboarding equipment. 

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Sophie Routaboul setting a new personal best.
(Photo via Kiteboard.com)


Leveling the Playing Field

One of the things that sets the Luderitz Speed Challenge apart from other events of this nature is the type of competitor that takes part in the challenge. Usually at these types of speed challenges big budget teams dominate the field. These multi-million dollar teams typically use all manner of highly engineered and purpose-specific craft for their record attempts. The Luderitz Speed Challenge breaks through these traditional barriers and, thanks to its unique canal and prevailing winds, affords all competitors, regardless of budget, the chance to challenge (and sometimes break) the overall World Speed Sailing Record on a yearly basis.

The most recent example of this was at the 2012 Luderitz Speed Challenge. Windsurfer Anders Bringdal of Sweden achieved a speed of 51.45 Knots over 500 metres on a stock-standard sailboard. It is much the same for kiteboarders. In 2010 Rob Douglas became the outright World Speed Sailing Record holder at 55.65 Knots. In setting this time he, along with four other kiteboarders at the event, smashed a record that had been set by the multi-million dollar hydrofoil craft the Hydroptere. The kiteboarders achieved this on boards that cost a fraction of the Hydroptere.  

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Kiteboarders reach awesome speeds at the Luderitz Speed Challenge
(photo via KitesportsKitesurfaris)

Why are so many records broken?  

The Luderitz Speed Challenge is arguably the best competition for World Speed Sailing Record attempts not just because of the prevailing winds in the region. It is because the strong and predictable local gusts of wind work in combination with a precisely engineered canal. These factors allow kiteboarders (and other sailors) to power themselves to faster and faster speeds. 

National records, international records, personal bests and overall speed limits are all pushed beyond previously imagined levels on a yearly basis at the Luderitz Speed Challenge. The first time a sailor broke the once seemingly unattainable speed of 50 knots was at the Luderitz Speed Challenge in 2008. It was the French kiteboarder Sebastien Cattelan who achieved a speed of 50.26 over 500 metres in the Luderitz canal. That’s over 91 kilometers per hour (or 60 miles per hour) with nothing but a board beneath his feet atop the surface of the water.    

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Serious speeds are reached on the purpose-built canal 
(photo via Surfertoday.com)

Since Cattelan’s groundbreaking run kiteboarders have ruled the roost on the overall World Speed Sailing standings. Kiteboarders have held the number one spot from 2008 - 2012.  Now, in 2013, kiteboarders from all over the world are looking to take back the number one spot currently held by Paul Larsen and his big-budget team: Vestas Sailrocket 2, a craft built for only one purpose: To achieve massive straight-line speeds.    

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The Vestas Sailrocket 2.
(Photo via QLDYachting.com)

It will be a case of David vs. Goliath and in order to take back the record the kiteboarders will have to reach an astonishing speed of 65.45 knots. That means the kiteboarders, if successful will be travelling at over 120kph (90mph); this is faster than most hurricane winds.   

Breaking Bones, Breaking Records 

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Rob Douglas’s wrist.
(Photo via TMZ.com)  

The Luderitz Speed Challenge is not for the feint of heart. Rob Douglas, once the fastest man on water, had a rough time of it at the Luderitz Speed Challenge in 2010. In attempting to break Sebastien Catalan’s newly set record of 55.49 Knots Rob came off his board and broke his wrist.  

For those of you requiring proof of this check out this video of Rob Douglas’s accident.  

Kite Surfer Breaks Record ... and then His Wrist
(via TMZ Celebrity Videos)

It was not all doom and gloom. Rob broke his wrist that day, but he also broke the World Speed Sailing Record by 0.16 Knots. He held this record until 2012 when the Vestas Rocket 2 smashed the World Speed Sailing Record.

Luderitz offers a great location for adventure holidaymakers in Namibia. If you want to experience the thrill of the Luderitz Speed Challenge get yourself down to this hidden gem on the South West coast of Namibia from the 7 of October to the 17 November 2013 and get ready for some water, wind, speed and sun. 

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Kiteboarding is not for sissies.
(Photo via Surfertoday.com)

So where is Luderitz?

Luderitz is located 350 km west of Keetmanshoop along a tarred road, the B4.

You can reach Luderitz by car from Windhoek, but its a pretty long drive, so you should definitely make a road trip out of it.

Alternatively, you can catch a flight with Air Namibia from Windhoek to Luderitz and be there in an hour!

Where can I stay when I get there?

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The Luderitz Nest Hotel
(Photo via TripAdvisor.co.uk)

Once in Luderitz the avid Kiteboarder or tourist has many options when it comes to accommodation. Book your room at the Nest Hotel for shorefront accommodation. Or for those of you wishing to rub shoulders with fellow kiteboarders check out (and then check-in) at the incredibly friendly Element Riders Place.

Below is a list of other accommodation options in Luderitz.

Bayview Hotel: 
Tel: +264-63-202-288
, bayview@namibnet.com

Kapps Hotel
: Tel: +264-63-202-345
, pmk@mweb.com.na

Kratzplatz B&B
: Tel: +264-63-202-458

Haus Sandrose
: Tel: +264-63-202-630

Hansa Haus Self Catering
: Tel: +264-63-203-581

Obelix Village B&B
: Tel: +264-63-203-456

Island Cottage Self Catering
: Tel: +264-81-292-298

Shark Island Camping & Bungalows
: Tel: +264-63-202-752

Backpackers Lodge
: Tel: +264-63-202-000

For more accomodation options visit this page on our Website.

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