Speed Luderitz – Jim Cloarec

When did it come to your mind to decide to go for this experience?

A few years ago, my friend Thierry Postec from Brest related me his speed competitions in Walvis Bay, and recently I followed Christophe Richaud on the web during  Luderitz challenge 2013. They definitely gave me the will to go for the 2014 challenge, realizing the channel was a must-riding place for a windsurfer.

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Do you do a lot of speed during the year?

That was the big problem. One year ago, I’ve never done any speed surfing, only slalom and wave riding.

So I bought an i-sonic speed 49 and went twice for training to the Coussoules, near by Leucate, doing more than 40 kts. Then Pascal Maka authorized me to participate to the « Mondial du vent » in april 2014, that was my first speed competition which permitted me to learn a lot about my gear.

Those were my only speed trainings for the year..!

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Where do you practice?

Despite the few speed sessions during the year , I’m lucky to having been sailing for 2 years in « Le Jaï » with a lot of famous windsurfers as Pascal Toselli or the Augé family and many others. I also sail in Fos, L’Almanarre and Gruissan in slalom boards.

Any special training you do for being fit for speed?

I softly train in a fitness center all year long when there is no wind

Otherwise I toughtly train in slalom boards.

For Luderitz I specially went on weight , about 6 kilos, unfortunately not only muscles!

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What is your Height and weight?

My height is 1m93 and my weight is 106 kilos for Luderitz instead of 100 kilos all year long

How much gear did you bring to Luderitz?

2 speed boards, a Mistral speed 41 for high wind and a I-Sonic speed 49 2014 for light wind

Several Gasoil fins ELS-L 18/19/22 asy

Last but not least, 2 wonderful Point7 AC1 2014 5.6 and 6.3. Thank you Andrea!

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What is more important, the sail, the board or the fin?

The really more important in speed as in slalom is to have a well-balanced gear.

I didn’t have the chance to try and set the high-wind gear before getting in Luderitz and actually both mistral board and 5.6 Point 7 sail were easy to ride fast, like a plug and play gear despite the difficulty to discover and set the gear for the first time on the channel.

Which fins did you use?

Basically I used 2 Gasoil asy fins, one 19 for high wind and one 22 for light wind. Asymmetrical fins are mandatory in the channel!

How long is the trip to get there, and how do you organize yourself to get there?

About 2 days, I flew Air France from Marseille via Paris CDG to Cape Town with 3 friends, then we rent 2 Toyota hilux and hit the road Jack…! 12 hours to reach the moon landscape of Luderitz.

If you plan to stay there 2 weeks, what would be the budget requested for this experience?

Plane is 1500€, car rental plus fuel 1300€, hotel plus restaurant 1000€

Moreover, you need at least one board and 2 sails.

Is there an inscription to pay?

Yes there is, you have to pay 1000€ per week

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What do you think is the right time to spend there in Luderitz?

For beginners like me, 2 weeks are enough, you can expect 6 days of wind.

Experts usually stay 3 to 4 weeks, waiting for the best conditions

How long is the day when it’s windy?

The wind in Luderitz is a thermal one, rising up at noon. So the day starts with the briefing at 11.30 am, then runs go on till 5 pm

Explain us how it works one run. Do you wait for your turn?

You start your run by queuing about 20 mn then you wait for a while, one or two minutes, for the good rise to optimize your run.

The aim is to be as fast as possible before the turn. This turn is the touchy point of the run, you must take advantage of it like a sling to accelerate downwind in order to achieve maximum speed at the start of the 500 meters run.

During the run you have to manage with the strength and direction of the wind variations, using all your skills to go straight ahead full powered till the end. « A FOND !!!»

The funniest part of the story is how to decelerate from 90km/h to zero in just 30 meters of very choppy water area in strong 180°angle wind..! And I DID IT!!!! I’m still wondering how… This part is quite easier in less than 30 kts wind.

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How do you go back to the starting point?

Somebody helps you to bring your board out of the water to the carriage, riders put their sails by their own on the carriage too. One of them is in charge of holding them during the trip back to the starting point of the channel. There are 2 different carriages, one for 5 riders the other one for 3.

How long do you wait from one run to the next?

Between 20 to 30 minutes

How many runs can you do a day?

In less than 30 kts, some of us made more than 14 runs, but as soon as the wind is strong, everybody is in the channel so you cannot do more than 10 runs.

Tell us the feeling from the moment you put the feet in the water, till the moment you pick up the gear to go out from the channel.

Light wind gives you the chance to appreciate to be 20 kts faster than wind, with no stress

Meanwhile with strong wind, the channel is more difficult to tackle than how it appears in videos. You have to be concentrated from the start till the final stop. Both wind and choppy water require all your awareness if you want to perform… and survive.

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Did you have a wipe out?

Fortunately not !

How where the conditions during your stay?

We started to warm up in light wind for our first day, 20 kts. It was really important to start in the channel with this condition so that we could feel more confidant later in high wind.

The 2nd day was a difficult one due to down wind 160° and 30 to 35 kts. It was so choppy at the 200m far end of the run that the best average speed didn’t exceed 47 kts. Nevertheless I reached the 2nd best time of the day. I really enjoyed this first contact with my 5.6 AC1 Point 7

Here comes the light wind again on the 3rd day. Funny day in the channel with all the go pro working hard.

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After 4 no windy days, the perfect day arrived. 35-40 its and 120°, times started to increase for all riders. The difficulty was to start at the first attempt to avoid to queue again for 20 minutes. Although I got hurt – my left hand- before getting into the water, I achieved my best time on the 4th run, 48.33 kts. This was a fast run because my gear was well set up and I did zero fault despite a very bad start until the turn, accelerating full power only on the straight line before the 500m area.

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The last windy day was quite difficult for me due to my left arm wound and a very irregular wind in strength and direction. We left the day after on the morning.

This was your first experience. You did 48.33 kts. What was missing to go over 50 kts? The condition, the gear?

Neither condition nor gear but the lack of speed experience.

Nevertheless, 48.33 is the 4th best time during my stay and is the 3rd best french time after Antoine Albeau and Cedric Bordes. Not that bad for a speed rookie

What would you change on your gear?

Next year, I would have an asymmetrical boom, and asymmetrical sail to optimize the starboard channel run

Did you realize from other riders that you would have needed something different to go faster? 

My weakness was my difficulty to start and reach high speed before the turn. I will work on it with my small board Mistral 41 this year to be ready in 2015.

Was your training good for this event?

Absolutely not. I discovered all my gear for the first time in the channel!!!

Fortunately, boards and sails were well balanced and fast.

How is life when it’s not windy at the spot? What other activities are available? Did you have a chance to take advantage to visit the area?

Actually, life slow down and you spend more time at the restaurant having breakfast, lunch and diner…

There are few touristic areas to visit, stuck between desert and ocean, as Diaz point or the ghost town of Kolmanskop, an abandoned diamond mining town.

Often, the wind is not strong enough to ride the channel but quite interesting to sail in slalom gear in the sea, where wind gets stronger. But its difficult to bring speed and slalom gear by plane …

Would you advice all this for family holidays as well?

If you wish to discover the moon during family holidays without space suit, that is the place to be!!!!

Will you be there next year again?

Of course I will! I’m not done with my job, I must go over the 50 kts wall with a Point 7 sail !

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