Speed Sailors Welcomed Home

Thomas Jundt

Thomas Jundt

Speed Sailors Welcomed Home

Last week saw an interesting array of sailors from the globe over, including 73 year old Fred Ball, competing in the Dakine Weymouth Speed Week at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA).  The event started in 1973 and is the oldest running speed event in the World, making Weymouth the original home of speed sailing in its pure form.  The official British Championships ensured that all possible was done to allow Harbour records to be broken, by kitesurfers, windsurfers and sailors.  The event is centred on an accurately measured 500 metre course located in Portland Harbour.  This provides the challenge for the speed sailor to pit his wits against the elements.

The lack of rules provides the ideal opportunity for both experts and dreamers to build the type of boats which, but for Dakine Weymouth Speed Week, would never see the light of day; competitors can be referred to as drivers, sailors or pilots.  Mirabaud LX, competing in their first ever Dakine Weymouth Speed Week, was designed to fly on its hydrofoils.  2010 once again saw many returning racers set to take on the course with their new craft, undeterred by their failures and delighted when their good ideas worked. 

Competitors help develop the sport and grow it internationally, to push the limits of other national and world records.  The course at Weymouth is suited to all competitors from boats to the kiters, so if the wind blows, harbour records could fall.  Despite being held in autumn every year to tie in with the Winter Equinox in the pursuit of high winds, there were no new harbour records for 2010 and the record still stands with Anders Bringdal, who achieved a speed of 38.2 knots in 2008.  The week, however, did see some exciting racing with trials taking part every day of the event and 33 knots being the highest speed recorded.  The final standings were 1st place kite boarder, James Longmuir at 33.419 knots; 2nd place Sailboat, Kevin Greenslade at 32.753 and; 3rd place kite boarder David Williams at 32.075 knots.      

Off the water, the competitiveness continued throughout the evenings.  Monday saw the Windsurfing 4 Cancer Research (W4CR) charity skittles night.  It was a closely fought battle that saw many competitors still at the bar as midnight approached and over £100 was put into the collection bucket.  The charity, which claims both Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw as ambassadors, has already raised over £50,000 this year for cancer research.   

John Tweed, Chief Executive at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, commented, ‘Dakine Weymouth Speed Week holds a special place in the hearts of Weymouth and Portland residents as well as the speed challenging world.  Dorset has been the chosen annual venue for this unique event since 1973 and international speedsters flock to the flat waters of Portland Harbour year on year to put their latest technological evolutions and experiments to the ultimate test.  This historical event with a modern developmental hook will continue with the Academy into the next decade and beyond bringing the delights of speed record breaking stars to our shores’.


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