I feel the need… The need for speed.
Okay, he might not have channeled his inner Maverick and said it, but Antoine Albeau definitely had that feeling on Sunday, November 1. The French windsurf legend bettered his own world record, achieving 53.27 knots while speedsailing in Luderitz, Namibia, in a custom-built ‘ditch’ designed to offer the perfect water conditions.
The first challenge is finding the location – the ‘ditch’ at Luderitz offers optimum conditions for speed sailing. What they’re looking for is strong wind to power the sail, and extremely flat water to control the board. Those two things come together every year in the late autumn as westerly breezes blow in from the Atlantic.
The start is the easy part…
For Albeau, Luderitz in October is as regular as Christmas in December. The Frenchman’s annual pilgrimage has resulted in a few speed records prior to this – his record of 50.07 knots was set in 2013 – but he always knew he could go faster.
While Albeau and his team spend lots of time tuning and tweaking their gear and settings, ultimately, much of it comes down to the conditions and power of the wind.
Sunday started out fine, and finished perfectly. Albeau had already done 28 runs the day before – his top GPS speeds hit 54 knots (only short bursts of speed) and he even broke his own 50.07 knot record over 500m. And did we mention the crash? There was a crash.