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Event: Luderitz Speed Challenge 2009 Location: Luderitz, Namibia Date: 11/1/09-11/29/09
Date: 11-01-2009
World Champion Melissa Gil Talks!

 Luderitz is not like anything you have seen before.  I guess I am used to the green of the tropics and the dessert is so strange to me, but at the same time intriguing.  It is beautiful in its own way.  From the small airplane flying in I could see dessert as far as the eye can see, a desolate landscape for sure.

The second lagoon where we ride is crazy!  They dug a canal so that we have waters of sufficient depth and placed the sand on the downwind side of the run, so when the tide is low it gets a bit scary.  On the upwind side is a fence they put up to hold the chop off the run, which is also scary.  The hills surrounding the lagoon look as if they were huge mountains far far away, but they are actually gray small sand dunes and rocks close by.
Sunday I flew in from Cape Town with a 6 meter, my spare harness, and a wetsuit Kathy "my friend" let me borrow.  Sjoukje and Mike were kind enough to let me borrow their spare boards and Jaime let me use his bar.  I went out for the first time when the tide was too high, eager to get in the water and test the run, little did I know everyone was chilling at the beach for a good reason.  The first two runs I made it down halfway and then exploded.  The upper part of the run was still flat but then the lower part was very choppy so I crashed.  I made it down on my third run going 30 knots and there was no way I could go faster without crashing.  So I waited at the beach with the rest of the smarter, more experienced speed sailors, who were joking and saying: "that was a good start, eh?"  Hahaha!

 As the tide went down the conditions got good and everyone was excited to hit the water.  It took me a couple of runs to get more used to the course, between the fence and the sand poking out, you kind of hold back afraid you might hit something.  But the more runs, the more comfortable I felt and the faster I could go.  Every run I would go one knot faster.  I definitely felt like I could go a lot faster, but it is a bit of a shocker once you are in Luderitz going down that run.  My fastest official run was 36.02 knots, my last run of the day and it just left me wanting more.  

On no wind days we went out on the Zeepard boat tour.  Off the small port we saw big ships that collect diamonds.  Then we cruised to Diaz Point and saw the sea lions laying on the top of the rocks, and then off to Halifaz Island to check out the Jackass penguin colony.  The penguins were hilarious.  There are small abandoned houses in the island and the penguins walk in and out of the houses.  On our way back several heavyside's dolphins were cruising with us at the front of the boat, swimming alongside the boat and throwing an occasional jump.  

Once the wind was back the game was on.  I was on a mission to break the US Speed Sailing record.  With winds that didn't go above 30 knots I managed to break the record with a speed of 38 knots, 43.74 mph, 70.38 kph.  And better yet I know I can go faster!  But, I will have to wait until next time.

The best part of the trip is that the people are so nice.  South Africans are kind and all the speed sailors are very friendly.  I am grateful to have been surrounded by such nice people.


2009 Luderitz Speed Challenge Records

Alex Caizergues (F-One) – World kiteboard speed record: 50.98 knots
Rob Douglas (Cabrinha) – USA outright speed sailing record: 50.95 knots
Jernej Privsek (Jägermeister) – Slovenian outright speed sailing record: 44.59 knots
Felipe Johannpeter (Genetrix) – Brazil outright speed record: 42.14 knots
Melissa Gil (Cabrinha) – USA woman’s speed sailing record: 38.00 knots

 
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