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Event: Kite Speed World Championships 2009 Location: Port St. Louise du Rhone, France Date: 3/29/09-4/5/09
Date: 03-09-2009
Melissa Gil Kite Speed World Champion!

Last minute decision maker like I am, I decided to attend the Kite Speed World Championships a month before the competition and I am so glad I did! A week before leaving for France I hoped on a speed board for the first time. Damien LeRoy and myself drove to the keys to train in the flat water and we had so much fun! We were just going back and forth trying to go as fast as we could. On one of my runs I hit 39.95 knots! It is a crazy feeling once you get going above 30 knots, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go 50 knots and above like the world record holders do!

Robert Douglas, the first American to hold a world record, created the North American Speed Sailing Project (NASSP), with the intent to have more Americans perform and compete at the Kite Speed events. I was lucky enough and honored to become part of this team and travel with the NASSP members: Robert Douglas, his brother Jamie Douglas, coach Mike Gebhardt and Damien LeRoy. We flew to Port St. Louise du Rhone, France a week before the event to train and test boards. I had never traveled with a team and a coach and it was awesome. I truly believe that the support of the team members, specially Damien, and our coach Mike helped me perform so well and helped me win a World Title, something I had never even imagined I could do! For that I will always be grateful, I couldn’t have done it without them.

On that week of training I learned so much. We had wind almost everyday. I got used to the board and used to ridding a way bigger kite than I normally would. The first day of competition came around and this was the day of action. We had two rounds of 1hour and a half to make has many runs as we could and try to increase our speed on every run. The wind in Plage Napoleon was offshore around 15 knots. Competitors would work their way upwind before the start of the round. Once the horn went off everyone would begin to line up as they entered the gates marked with buoys. Once inside the gates rights before the start line, only one person could go through the line. We had to get our speeds going before the start line and hold it for 500 meters, until we crossed the finish line. There we could check on a big board what our speed was and what we were ranked at the moment. Then we would be off going upwind for another round. I did as many rounds as I could, always trying to do better. As the day went by the wind was getting lighter, which made it hard to go fast. I was blessed to have coach Mike helping me throughout my rounds, telling me to change little things to make my runs better. I was impressed how changing something small like de-powering the kite a tiny bit would make me go 2 to 3 knots faster. “It’s all about tuning” Mike would say and it was.

The only thing I had a hard time adjusting to was the cold. I was wearing so many layers of neoprene I was unrecognizable. Ski goggles, 4/3 wetsuit, heat seeker, hoodie, impact vest, and a shorty on top of all that! NASSP team members had no clue who this Cabrinha rider was, even our dedicated photographer, Ian with ExPix, made a folder for the photos of this mystery rider under the name: “Cab Man” for Cabrinha Man! So there it is I raced looking like a guy and maybe that is why I did so well.

Overall, team NASSP did really well Robert Douglas placed third and had the best speed of the competition 33.94 Knots. Damien LeRoy placed fourth on his first speed competition ever, which makes you wonder how good he would do next time. I placed first place for the women’s. Former female world champion, Charlotte Consorti, and I were tied with points, but I had the fastest speed of 30. Knots. I got lucky this time.

I am glad I went to this event, not only did I get to see some of the beautiful places in France, but it was my first time in Europe, and I met a lot of very nice people. All the speed competitors seemed to be good friends and always maintained good vibes. The girls were very nice to me, even though I was a new comer, which I appreciate. The guys were also very welcoming of this new American team, which made our experience very pleasant. We hope to see everyone on the next speed event for some more rounds of racing.

For more info and photos:
Men’s pro:
1.    Alex Caizergues (F-One / France)
2.    Sylvain Hoceine (Money Kites / France)
3.    Rob Douglas (CABRINHA / USA)
4.    Damien LeRoy (CABRINHA / USA)
5.    Sylvain Maurin (F-One / France)

Women’s pro:
1.    Melissa Gil (CABRINHA / USA)
2.    Charlotte Consorti (F-One / France)
3.    Sjoukje Bredemkamp (Naish / South Africa)
Transcend NPX Cabrinha Dakine MG