Friday, November 21, 2008

Kiteboarding records

Things just got complicated… again. As kiteboarding evolved, and a focus was given to speed sailing, it was learned that the shallower the water, the faster their speed. Think air hockey, and how fast the puck travels on a thin layer of air. Or a skim board on the beach, floating on a thin layer of water. Same theory. With rumors of speed records being considered on swampy fields, the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) stepped in mid year, and stated that a minimum water depth of 50 cm would be required for any speed record to be ratified. It is the WSSRC’s job to manage this part of the sport, and if they don’t ratify a speed run, it is not official.

With all the interest right now to break the 50 knot speed barrier on the official 500 meter course, and now that two kiteboarders have exceeded the mark last month at the Lüderitz Speed Challenge in Namibia (Sebastien Cattelan, 50.26 knots and Alexandre Caizergues, 50.57 knots), the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has now decided that a “kite-powered craft” cannot be recognized as the holder of the Outright World Sailing Speed Record. The WSSRC works for ISAF, and while they have now ratified the 50.26 knot speed (and are working to ratify the 50.57 mark), all these guys can claim is that they are the fastest kiteboarders, and that these remarkable runs are not the overall fastest “performances under sail”.

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At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They failed to mention that Rob Douglas is the second fastest at 50.54 knots over a 500 meter course.

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like politics as usual. Maybe the two french reps on the WSSRC are on the side of Hydroptere and want to see the french hydrofoil trimaran be the fastest....? ISAF changes its stance and reject the records of wind powered kiteboarders. Sad to see a display of prejudice....especially since ISAF lets WSSRC ratify records of boats being powered by only a spinaker (kite) and also boats riding on's all wind power and a form of sailing. Sadly ISAF just approved Kitesurfing as a recognized International sailing class under their umbrella. As usual they have their heads up their arses. Guess we have to wait for the blue blazers to die off and the newer, younger and more open minded blood to percolate to the top.

Definition of sailing: the activity of a person or thing that sails. Yes i think kitesurfing is a form of sailing, as is windsurfing and sailing a foiling moth, catamaran, 49er, etc.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

Correct, the results from Luderitz had Rob's fastest time at 50.54, but this was never ratified by the WSSRC. Odds are, the times would have stood up, but ratification has become a necessary step. Unfortunately, there is a fee with WSSRC to ratify a time, and since Rob did not set the highest mark (which was 50.57), he might not have felt it was worth the cost.


At 8:29 AM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

As for the politcs, I also heard that they Hydroptere team was pitching to get kiteboarding disallowed. It is an interesting question as to what is closer to the core of sailing: what Hydroptere is doing or what the kiteboarders are doing?

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - this is asinine. When you consider a sport like sailing that is clearly in a particpation decline, one would think that the sport would embrace a new disciplince like kitesurfing. But no, sailing is a big dollar sport and there are plenty out there that would like to protect their own selfish interests. Campaigns such as l'hydroptere are an embarassment to the sport with their over-the-top lobbying of the WSSRC. Normally in life, the saying goes, "if you can't be them, join them...", but in the sport of sailing, it's more like "if you can't beat them, ban them...". I would love to see windsurfer Antoine Albeau lobby to ban all hydrofoils from holding any official records. Bye bye sailing, you are on your way down a slippery slope.

At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definition of a yacht: from WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY- Any of various recreational watercraft.

Well i guess now a kiteboard is not a water craft....?

Definition of sailing: the sport of handling or riding in a sailboat

Definition of a sailboat: a boat usually propelled by sail.

Definition of a boat: a small vessel for travel on water.

Definition of a kite: a light sail used in a light breeze usually in addition to the regular working sails.

Well I guess a kiteboard is not a vessel, boat, board, yacht and is not powered by wind by sail, kite, spinaker, etc....

ISAF needs to read the dictionary.....

At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well then, how did ISAF ever let windsurfers hold the outright world record? I guess since ISAF decided in 1984 that windsurfing could be in the Olympics it is a legit sport......might have had something to do with over 200,000 people windsurfing in 1984. But now kitesurfing is getting seriously big as a sailing sport as well, with course racing, long distance racing, freestyle, hight jump contests, slalom, etc. We even now have huge kites pulling giant ships around the world.....and a few crazy folks have already kited across the atlantic a small boat of course, but the kite was the form of sail power used. Wake up ISAF and get your head out of your asses, put your martini's down get off of your big ass yacht and look around you old farts.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the fastest sailors on the planet do not hold the outright World Sailing Speed Record what value does the World Sailing Speed Record have?? C'mon ISAF...go back to the boardroom and figure this out!!

At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cattelans speed of 50.26kts was the first record run over 50kts set previously during the event....but on October 8th, Cattelan and Douglas both set their current fastest times over the 500...with speeds of 50.52kts for Seb and 50.54kts for Douglas.....the speeds were witnessed by the on site WSSRC commissioner and the runs have been sent to the WSSRC for ratification.

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Bill Lee said...

The future I find interesting is not the depth of the water, but the length of the kite strings. With modern materials the strings can get longer and longer. We all know the wind is stronger up high and up to 200 knots in the jetstream. As the strings get longer, going faster will be a matter of progression, but keeping the board in the water will be become harder. This will create another judging issue regarding the percentage of the course that the board must be in contact with the water. I agree with the World Sailing Speed Record Council. My reason is that the official outright speed record should be in the spirit of the Ancient Interface, that being the sheer between the wind and the water. Yes it should be limited to boats where the boat and sails operate in adjacent conditions. -- Bill Lee

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

Perhaps this point brings up another, which is how the rules require for speed records to be set without the use of stored energy. Could it be argued that if the kite strings are of a sufficient length and elasticity, their initial load will be such that it initiates a whip effect to launch the rider to a higher speed?

At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Andrew Mason: said...

It is important to distinguish between the arguments regarding depth of water and the arguments regarding whether a kitesurfing is sailing.

On the question of depth, the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) has implemented a depth limit of 50cm and this applies to sailboards, who have been speedsailing on shallower courses than this for years, as well as kitesurfers. So the exclusion of kitesurfers from the outright world speed sailing record has nothing to do with water depth.

As to whether kite powered vessels can be classified as sailing craft for the purposes of world records, there didn't seem to be any objection to kitesurfers competing for the speed record until they broke it. Prior to that, kite powered vessels have competed in speed sailing contests at least as far back as 1982, when Jacob's Ladder, a catamaran powered by a stack of flexifoil kites, took the 'C' class speed record and held it for six years.

The decision to exclude kite powered vessels at this late stage is arbitrary and illogical. As I recall there were similar calls for the banning of sailboards from holding world sailing speed record about 30 years ago when their speed potential became apparent. Thankfully this did not occur and the sport of sailing has been the better for it. Radical developments in sailing, such as multihulls, lightweight planning boats, trapezes, sailboards and now hydrofoils, have always met with initial resistance before becoming accepted parts of the sport. It would be a shame to penalize the kitesurfers, not because they are more radical than previous developments, but because their development has been so successful.

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Ari Barshi said...

It will be interesting to see if the Kiteboard is also the fastest sailcraft in the deeper water. If not, than the World Speed council is correct.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going faster is always a matter of the lines on a kite get longer, drag increases but the turning speed of the kite the event in Luderitz Namibia, I went faster with shorter lines and a bigger kite then I went with longer lines and a smaller kite. Lets stick to definitions and facts for the current moment: kitesailors use kites for propulsion which are sails by definition and they use boards which are vessels or boats by definition..... kitesailors are faster when they are in contact with the water for the entire 500 meter course and the WSSRC is on record supporting kitesailors as overall world speed record holders. Note: ground effect can occur on larger and faster vessels in water depths far greater than 50 lets be consistant here too.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I can tell you from personal experience the only thing kiteboarders need to go faster is flatter water, 40 knots plus wind strength and the right wind direction. In Luderitz we were running in sometime 6 to 10 inches of chop and still posting speed of over 50 knots. Wait till we find a place that is super flat. Water depth is a non issue.

Gebi- Coach of Rob Douglas worlds second fastest sailor @ 50.54 and yes powered by a kite.

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WSSRC: "If you don't like the outcome, change the rules." - Good work guys, you are one hell of an organization!

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kite surfing/boarding has no vertical structure that supports the sail while in use. Sail boats & sail boards do.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Dan said...

To this post: "Kite surfing/boarding has no vertical structure that supports the sail while in use. Sail boats & sail boards do."

If you are referring to the mast, a kite has a fairly rigid, inflated leading edge. If not referring to the mast itself, perhaps you mean to suggest a similarity between the way the rig steps to the hull or board. The universal joint that forms part of the mast base on a windsurfer does not allow the sail to stand upright unassisted. In fact, a sailboard that is planing will tend to fly away independent of the rig. The sheeting action creates a downward force through the mast (and mast base) and works in direct partnership with the sailor to keep the board from going out of control.

Back to the kites on a speed course, these guys are on the verge of destruction just like anyone considered "standard enough" to merit a record run. The kiters run their kites low and forward in the wind window and with the leading edge vertical just like the mast of a sailboat -or at least like the mast of a windsurfer. There is no crack-the-whip effect or any funky flying at 10 feet above the course. Anybody who catches meaningful air will not set the record regardless of whether they sit on fiberglass or in a harness.

I might add that one reason why Rob Douglas managed to break Antione Albeau's record (certified or otherwise) is because Rob is one of the only people in the world who could keep his board ON the water in those brutal conditions.

-Dan Weiss

At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiting is the purest way of sailing, you can imagine: No foils, no masts, no tricks - just a man on the ocean, driven by wind.

check the video (cam is mounted at the kite)

At 2:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This situation STINKS!

ISAF recognizes Kite Sailing (which is what we do.) They sanction a new organization (IKA) and state that we could become an Olympic class.....

Then they do not recognize Kite Sailing as a craft allowed to hold the Outright Speed Sailing record.


1. Kite Sailing has been around for 1000's of years. The Chinese used kites to power their small fishing boats.
2. 1972 Jacob's Ladder uses 7 Kites (stacked) and Ian Day break's the World Record and holds it for 6 years.
3. Sjoukje Bredenkamp holds the current Women's Outright Record for over a year already, now all of a sudden she doesn't?
4. The WSSRC has for over 6 years taken fees from 100's of kite sailors with the opportunity to break the outright speed sailing record. Kite Sailors have used the WSSRC rules and adhered to them and by doing so, earned the RIGHT to call themselves the owner of the Outright Record.

What is the WSSRC?
was established by the International Yacht Racing Union (now renamed the International Sailing Federation) in 1972. The object was to provide impartial results for increasing numbers of claims to high speed sailing craft (on water: never on ice nor land!). Early on the decision was made to base such speed ratifications on a one-way leg of exactly 500 metres. Meetings were held every year, often several meetings a year, in various suitable places in the world and speeds climbed with boats of various configurations and with sailboards.

SO we can clearly see that this is about SAILING and nothing to do with craft. Define SAILING and I believe that this is the only way to define what we do.

What is FAIR?
Is it fair that Hydroptere is allowed to sail anywhere on water using hydrofoils using a GPS device to calculate speed and or records? Yet, Kite sailors and Sailboarders HAVE to use 2 fixed points and video timing.

IS it fair that Big Boat syndicates pressurize the WSSRC into a depth rule citing a "Ground Effect" law which is not challenged properly and put in place days before an officially sanctioned and paid up event (WSSRC - PKRA Speed Event, Fuerte.) A rushed meeting then agrees that 50cm is the right depth to be changed to 10cm or average Beam of craft which moves it out to 15cm. However, the WSSRC has been challenged to provide the beam width of Hydroptere including it's foils and how they have validated the water depth during and after it's so called record runs (still silence and no answer. )

What is further worrying is the email I received from the WSSRC Secretary, John Read, it states that the big boat syndicates arguments (I think he meant cash) are stronger than ours and that sailing in shallow water and man made canals is to be done away with..... So the French Trench should be worried as well.

This is about stupid dirty politics of large boat syndicates trying to buy their way into the record books.

Alex Caizergues IS the fastest sailor and anybody who is not of this opinion should look at themselves and wonder why? He sails, he conformed with the conditions set out by a WSSRC commissioner and paid his fees. This is all that should be done. You cannot in retro take something away from somebody and then sit back and drink your G&T's. Lawsuits are there for a reason and what has been done so far would not be hard to get some good cash in the back pocket.

The WSSRC is totally out of touch and to allow other craft MASSIVE advantages whilst trying to make out that kiters gain an advantage in shallow water is not "FAIR" or indeed acceptable. If they want to stand out as the Authority for Speed Sailing, they should make all craft ride under the same conditions.

1. Between 2 fixed points
2. With Video Timing
3. With Ground Effect or without.

If all adhered to the above, we all know who is the fastest, and that is I guess the problem for people with large sums of money invested. However, this should not be the problem of $1500 syndicates known as kiters.

Rant over.


At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume this rant is from Rob Douglas- the worlds second fastest sailor/kiter at 50.54 knots. Well put and very clearly explained.

Is it time for a class action suit from the kitboarders?

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm Rob Munro, I run the website and currently hold the Kite Speed WR for the Mile.

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, Rob Munro I as well thought the rant was from the other Rob! So nice rant... it covers all the good details.

gebi out

At 11:14 AM, Blogger said...

I have been sailing all my life.. Optimist - 420-470-europa-racing boats X class-Banner-windsurfing-kitesurfing...

Old men that don't know shit about sailing is making the decisions right now. Embarrassing.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

World Record Update

Last week a further meeting was held regarding the OUTRAGEOUS behaviour of the WSSRC / ISAF over the now non recognition of Kite Sailors as the rightful owners of the Outright Speed Sailing Record.

The manner to which the WSSRC and ISAF are using, is similar to that of their attempt to stop the Luderitz Speed Challenge - Ground Effect Rule of 50cm without any involvement from the class of Kite Sailing.

We have called on the WSSRC to immediately recognise the owners of this prestigeous title and do the right thing.

A few things to think about.

1. Kites have powered sailing craft for 1000's of years.
2. Jacob's Ladder was accepted in 1972 and Ian Day break's the World Record and holds it for 6 years
3. Sjoukje Bredenkamp has for the past 12 months held the women;s Outright with a Kite.
4. The WSSRC has for over 6 years taken fees from 100's of kite sailors with the opportunity to break the outright speed sailing record. Kite Sailors have used the WSSRC rules and adhered to them and by doing so, earned the RIGHT to call themselves the owner of the Outright Record.

There is no doubt to the validity of Kite Sailing as a class and now ISAF have added us to their club.

We have also asked the WSSRC to ensure that FAIRNESS is now employed in ALL record attempts which should be as follows (NM & 500m )

1. Racing Between 2 Fixed Points
2. With Video Timing
3. With or Without Ground Effect measuring - if it truly esxists, 8m Beam craft need to be in at least 4m of water at all times.

The WSSRC is trying to delay this decision and take the heat off of themselves and ISAF, but only took a very short time to act in the most outrageous way.

Alex Caizergues IS the Outright Record Holder and this is a simple fact.

Again we call on the WSSRC to do the right thing and not to pander to big boat syndicates who are constantly trying to buy the Outright Record or the hunt to 50. It is OVER. You lost. Move on. Furthermore, it is time that the organisation treats all classes with respect and fiarness in terms of Sailing, 1 rule for all.

Rob Munro

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) will meet with the World Sailing Speed Record Council on Thursday to discuss the removal of the policy that prohibits kiteboarders from holding the outright speed record. Neither ISAF secretary general Jerome Pels nor the record council representative would say why kites were not considered eligible for the outright speed record, just that the policy was still active. -- NY Times, full story:

At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Guy L said...

The ISAF decision must be reversed. Otherwise windsurfing records should be stricken from the books. I could be argued that both a "speed needle" sailboard "hull" and a kiteboard "hull" are not really "boats" since they won't support a human when not moving. Since a boat that won't float a sailor isn't really a "boat", it is also logical to cancel all sailboard records that were set on "sinker" speedboards and then require any "hull" used towards new speed records be large enough to float the sailor that sails it.

Is this what the ISAF wants? What are they getting at? What about Kiting is so different than windsurfers (or Jacob's Ladder re:kite driven)?

Kiting is windsurfing with a kite. And kiters don't need shallow water to set new records. Kiters continue to refine their equipment and techniques and may hit 60 knots in the not-too-distant future.

It's the only sailing in the world that is even simpler than windsurfing. It works over a wide range of conditions, is as fast as some skiffs upwind and is the ultimate downwind performer. It is inexpensive (compared to windsurfing and singlehanders) and is easy to transport.

If the ISAF fails to correct this unwise ruling, I hope the kiters go ahead to 100 km/hour and beyond!!!
If the ISAF doesn't rectify this mistake I say, "Kiters, spit in the eye if the ISAF and do your thing! Start a new independent organization to oversee Kiting records.

BTW. I haven't kited. I'm an old boardhead journalist. I chased Pascal Maka on the "Ponds" and chatted speed with Lindsay Cunningham on the shore of Port Philip Bay.

The ISAF decision to not recognize the Kite records is a travesty. It goes against established precedent
(Jacob's Ladder). It must be reversed.

End of this rant!

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous g innes said...

I render the ISAF old and defunct. Let's grow up and away from old farts with too much money clouding their judgement.

At 12:50 AM, Blogger justaguy said...


How about setting up a petition, which people fro around the world can sign and handle it over to ISAF officially with media etc? That should put pressure on the ISAF and make it public. And have experts explaining that kiters just have been powered by wind and ride on the surface...just as the ISAF wants it...

here we go:
Please spread it!

At 5:59 AM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

From Scuttlebutt 2739:

It came as a shock when the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) announced on November 20th, 2008 that the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) had decided at their 2008 Annual Meeting in November that a kite-powered craft could not be recognized as the holder of the outright world sailing speed record. Considering that in October, three kiteboarders had eclipsed the mythical 50 knot barrier, with their speeds endorsed then by WSSRC as the outright records, this ISAF ruling caught the kiteboard community off guard.

What followed was extensive debate, and now a reversal from ISAF with the December 7, 2008 announcement that they will now support a decision by the WSSRC to ratify a claim for the
Outright World Sailing Speed Record by a Kite-board. In accordance with this, the WSSRC announced the ratification of a new World Record:

Record: Outright World Sailing Speed Record.
Board: Fone Prototype Speed. Fone Bandit Dos Speed 7sq m kite.
Name: Alexandre Caizergues. FRA
Date: 4th October 2008
Start time: 15:35:00.84
Finish time: 15:35:20.06
Elapsed time: 19.22
Distance: 501 m
Current: 0.1 kts
Average speed: 50.57 kts
Venue: Luderitz, Namibia
Previous record: 2008. Sebastien Cattelan. 50.26 kts
WSSRC website:

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is a dun deal
Kites have it. To clame it others wise is lost.

At 5:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it did notmatter, there would be no problems.


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