When is a sailing record not a sailing record?
This has been a record breaking season and it has not come without its controversy. The ultimate world speed sailing record has, for some years, been the domain of windsurfers. That is until the kite surfers moved in to the Luderitz Speed Challenge in Walvis Bay, Namibia. First of all it was declared that any record achieved in water less than 50cm deep would be invalid because of the ‘ground effect’. Then when a kitesurfer broke the existing outright record it was at first recognised by the WSSRC. But when another kite surfer, Alexandre Caizergues (pictured), cracked the 50 knot barrier it was announced that it was a new kite sailing record but not a sailing record. Shortly afterwards this was rescinded and Alexandre Caizergues quite rightly took the crown.
But it has not finished there. What about us? asked the ice sailors. 50 knots is nothing. How about 120? Ah but that’s not on water was the reply. Then ice sailing guru Peter Harken stepped up to the plate. ‘We’re not really interested in records,’ he said, ‘just racing and when you’ve four or five ice yachts closing in on the leeward mark at over 100 mph it can be character forming.’ He then threw the cat amongst the pigeons. Ice yachts apparently are at their fastest if there is water on the ice.