The 2014 Chris Benz Luderitz Speed Challenge


The small coastal town of Luderitz in the south of Namibia is renowned for its laidback atmosphere and friendly locals. However, every year around October, the sleepy seaside community hosts one of the wildest water sports events in the world: The Luderitz Speed Challenge.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

Sunshine and speed on the Luderitz Channel.
(Photo by Greg Beadle)


Since 2007 some of the world’s most renowned kitesurfers and windsurfers have been coming to Luderitz with one aim: To reach ridiculous speeds on the purpose-built channel just outside Luderitz.

The first two days of the event this year were characterised by mild winds, but despite this some speed sailing legends were on hand to entertain the curious crowds that had gathered at the channel.

Sébastien Cattelan, two times world record holder and the man who helped design the Luderitz channel, managed to reach a hair-raising 50.07 knots (90km/h or 60m/ph) on his second run on the very first day of the competition.

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The veteran kitsurfer in full flight on the channel.
(Photo by Greg Beadle)

 

The following day Erik Beale (who in the 80’s was the first windsurfer to reach 40 knots) made his long awaited comeback to competitive windsurfing on the Luderitz channel. The participation of these two veterans was a testament to lasting appeal that the event has for both seasoned and younger competitors.

 Windsurfing legends Erik Beale and Thierry Bielak. 

 

The Calm 

The days in the middle of this year’s competition were characterised by the riders waiting for the exact right conditions to maximise their speeds. While a few personal bests were set over this period of the competition, during this time most of the competitors fine-tuned their equipment and got used to the conditions in and around the channel.

 

There was also time for the guys and girls to relax a bit and soak up some of Luderitz’s famous hospitality at the world-class Crayfish Bar & Lounge in the Lüderitz Nest Hotel. The contestants even managed to get a little bit ridiculous on the water... 

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

The world's first kitesurfing leopard.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

The World Record

On Day 6 of the competition, while most spectators (and competitors) were not expecting too much in the way of serious record attempts, a spectacular record was smashed by Frenchman Chris Ballois.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

Chris Ballois, World Record holder.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)


Chris managed to hit a top speed of 42.92 knots on the famous channel and in doing so became the undisputed World Record holder for disabled kitesurfers. The record-breaking run was ratified by both the WSSRC and ISAF-IFDS.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

The Frenchman flying toward a new world record.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

Chris Benz’ passion for the sport has motivated him to gain the skills, strength, and mental conditioning to achieve speeds that many non-disabled kite surfers can only dream of. Check out Chris' record run in the video below:

 

Chris was not the only record breaker this year though and even though wind conditions this year were far from ideal the riders managed to make the most of their time on the channel. Over 11 New National Records (and of course one World Record) were broken by the 34 Windsurfers and Kite Surfers with the field representing 17 different nationalities. The results of this year’s Chris Benz Luderitz Speed Challenge once again confirm that the event is one of the premier competitions on the world speed sailing circuit.  

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

20 riders, 1 leopard and a whole bunch of sun and fun.
 (Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

More than just a flash on the water 

Beyond the surfing the LSC is about community. The participants and fans who went to watch this annual event are all testament to that. On the slow days when the wind is down, to keep spirits up, the riders got involved with some of the local children and showed some of these kids the basics of windsurfing and kitesurfing.

In the video below the riders express their love for the tiny Namibian town they call home for a brief period every year:

 

The event would not be possible without the local community, especially the offical partner hotel, the Nest Hotel. It’s great to see that the participants and the communities work so well together and it is this cooperation and mutual benefit that has seen the Speed Challenge go from strength for the last seven years.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

Here's looking forward to next year!
(Photo by 
Greg Beadle)


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Check out this video of the 2014 event for a more in-depth look at all the fun:

 

 

RECORDS BROKEN AT THE 2014
CHRIS BENZ LUDERITZ SPEED CHALLENGE

Andrew Redfern (Fiji) with 40.87 kts (75.5 kph average speed over 500m)

Andrew Redfern1 280x200 (1)

Roger Ornvang (Sweden) improved his national record - Kitesurfing - with 43.19 kts (80kph)

Roger Ornvang 22000

Remo Diethelm (Switzerland) with 48.31 kts (90 kph)

REmo 88 280x200

Franz Grabner (Austria) smashed the National record with 47.88 kts (88.5 kph)

Franz Austrian

Martin Tóth (Czech Republic) broke his country’s record often and finally ending with 46.73 kts (86.5 kph)

Martin Toth 280x200

Mark Grinnell (South Africa) set a new South Africa and all Africa record in Windsurfing with a truly impressive 49.92 kts (92.5 kph) – just short of the magical 50 knots

South AFrican 76431 280x200

Alain de Gendt (Belgium) - new Production Board Record of 46.66 kts

Alain De Gendt

Christian Bornemann (Germany) - new record in Windsurfing of 48.82 kts (90.4 kph)

christianright 280x200

Zoran Jovanovic (Serbia) - new national record (Kitesurfing) of 40.31kts (74.5 kph)

Zoran

Patrik Diethelm (Italy) achieved the TOP windsurfing performance at the 2014 event by improving the Italian National Record with a very impressive 51.18 kts (94.7 kph) just 0.8 knots of the World Windsurfing Record!

PATRIK Diethelm 280x200

Christophe Ballois (France) set a new Disabled World Record (Kitesurfing) with a superb and inspiring performance of 42.94 kts (80 kph)

Speed Chris Ball 280x200

 
To stay up to date with all the latest news visit the Speed Challenge's Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or watch more of their excellent videos on their official Youtube channel.

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