Please select your home edition
CoastWaterSports 2014

50 knot barrier smashed by Frances Sebastien Cattelan

by Roger Hislop 5 Oct 2008 11:00 BST 3 October 2008

It was a massive Friday at the Lüderitz Speed Challenge, with a new world record, and the magic 50 knot barrier broken by Sebastien Cattelan of France with a blistering run of 50.26 knots (93kph). The new record, still subject to ratification by a sitting of the World Speed Sailing Records Council, has placed the small coastal town in the southern part of Namibia firmly on the map for the extreme sport of speed sailing, where sailing boats, windsurfers and kitesurfers use only the natural elements to power them to almost 100kph speeds.

In the 35 to 40 knot winds that blew today, gusting to more than 45 knots (83kph), the speed sailors braved very rough water conditions to achieve these records speeds, with numerous runs by top sailors of over 49 knots. Several new outright records were set:

  • Sebastien Cattelan 50.26 knots – new world outright speed sailing record, and the first person to break the magic “50 knot” barrier (sponsored by Genetrix kites, xelerator boards, Prolimit, Ocean eyewear, Dabens)
  • Rolf van der Vlugt 44.9 knots – new Dutch outright speed sailing record (Airush, Mystic, Protest, TUDelft, X-tremeboards)
  • David Williams 44.82 knots – new UK outright speed sailing record (Best Kiteboarding, Dead Man clothing, MKS)
  • Charlotte Consorti 42.19 knots – new French women’s outright speed sailing record (F-One, Nike, Maui Magic, Baracuda, Weleda)
  • Katja Roose 36.83 – new Dutch women’s outright speed sailing record (Protest, Maui Magic, Airush)

Other top times today were from Jerome Bila 49.26 knots and Alexander Caizergues at 49.21 knots. Note that these times are verified by the official time keeper, but are still subject to final ratification by the WSSRC.

Cattelan, who has been kiting for over ten years, is a pioneer of speed sailing, and was the driving force behind establishing this speed strip in Lüderitz, where a smooth stretch of water in the lagoon is buffeted by the already strong winds of the area that are accelerated by a shallow valley. His new record ups the ante in this 2008 edition of the month-long Lüderitz Speed Challenge, where American Rob Douglas’ 49.84 knots on the 19th September smashed the 49.09 knot world record set by windsurfer Antoine Albeau in the ‘trench’ at St Marie de la Mer in France earlier this year.

Coming into today’s event, he was struggling with an unrelated small injury, requiring him to reduce his activity. “I’ve been in bed the last three days, concentrating on what I would do today. Then I just did it,” he says. According to Cattelan, his record breaking run of today saw a maximum speed of 58 knots – 107kph – on the GPS, with an average of 54.5 knots over 200m.

Saturday promises even stronger winds, with a new milestone ahead of the competitors – the psychological barriers of 60mph and then 100kph. Both the competitors and ESF Events, the organisers of the Lüderitz Speed Challenge are expecting even more world-beating performances tomorrow.

Another new record on Saturday!

Friday the Lüderitz Speed Challenge saw Sebastien Cattelan of France become the first human being to sail at more than 50 knots (93kph) – a world record he held for only 24 hours before compatriot Alexandre Caizergues snatched it away with not one but three runs over 50 knots – reaching a top speed of 50.57 knots (93.65kph).

More information at

Related Articles

Circumnavigation Record Attempt kicks off
Norbert Sedlacek sets sail on his lifetime mission to set a world record Today at 11:10 am the entire Innovation Yachts team, fans, colleagues and sailing aficionados saw innovator and skipper Norbert Sedlacek set sail on his lifetime mission to set a world record, unassisted, single-handed and nonstop around the world. Posted on 16 Aug
Sir Chay Blyth returns to the Hamble
To celebrate 50th anniversary of his solo circumnavigation British yachtsman Sir Chay Blyth returned to the Hamble on Friday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his victorious return to the UK at the end of a pioneering 292-day solo non-stop west-about circumnavigation against the prevailing winds and currents Posted on 7 Aug
Sir Chay Blyth 50th anniversary celebrations
A parade of sail will take place up the Hamble River Sir Chay Blyth returns to the Hamble to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his pioneering solo non-stop west-about circumnavigation back in 1971 aboard the 59ft ketch British Steel. Posted on 2 Aug
Spirit of Adventure 'Mayflower' project
Getting disadvantaged young people sailing in Plymouth A new project hopes to give more than 350 disadvantaged children in Plymouth an exciting and unique opportunity, and a crowdfunding page has been launched to help make it a reality. Posted on 13 Feb 2020
Last-chance auction for project boats from £1
Boat auction, jumble and water fun day at Blackwater Marina Dozens of project boats at Blackwater Marina at Maylandsea are being given a last chance by auctioning them off on Sunday October 7 with three months free storage included with every boat sold. 6% of all proceeds going to three charities. Posted on 21 Sep 2018
Norbert Sedlacek stops his record attempt
Single-handed non-stop circumnavigation postponed Skipper Norbert Sedlacek has decided to stop his record attempt this morning at 10.30 a.m. westerly of Ireland and to come back to the port of departure, Les Sables d'Olonne. Posted on 1 Aug 2018
Bala Massacre and Exmoor Beastie cancelled
Wild winds and temperatures below zero make events impossible Unfortunately the Bala Massacre 3 hour pursuit race has had to be cancelled due to some severe weather forecasts. We have waited as long as we can but I am sorry to say we have had to pull the plug on the Exmoor Beastie too. Posted on 16 Mar 2018
West of Scotland Boat Jumble to be held in Irvine
For the benefit of local community groups For the third year in succession the organisers are pleased to announce that the Autumn event will again take place on Sunday 2 October starting at 10 am. at the Scottish Maritime Museum Wharf, The Harbourside, Irvine. Posted on 30 Jul 2016
Classics destroyed in Cowes fire
Around 30 yachts and dayboats lost A fire at a boatyard in West Cowes on the Isle of Wight yesterday, Monday January 25, has seen the destruction of around 30 yachts and one-design dayboats, including many irreplaceable classics. Posted on 26 Jan 2016
Franck Cammas recovering
After training accident in Quiberon Franck Cammas, the skipper of Groupama Team France, is recovering following surgery on his leg after a training accident. Posted on 1 Dec 2015