Wind lures trio to Africa

Africa bound: the Victorian Speed Sailing Team, from left: Craig Spottiswood, Andrew Daff and Jacques Kint.

THREE members of the Inverloch Windsurfing Club are bound for Africa in a bid to make speed sailing history.

Andrew Daff of Sandy Point will join Craig Spottiswood of Beaumaris and Jacques Kint from Drysdale at the Luderitz Speed Event in Namibia in October.

The trio will vie to be the fastest along the Luderitz channel – a 1.2km, six to eight metre man made channel cut through the desert on the edge of the ocean.

All have established reputations in the sport, having competed at the Australian and world levels.

Daff, 61, is now the fastest in the world for his age group, having sailed at an impressive 47 knots or 87 km/h.

“I won’t challenge for the outright record but I will be trying to set a mark in my age group that won’t be beaten in a long time,” he said.

“I want to be sure that I’m able to reach my potential. I want to go as fast as I possibly can.”

The Inverloch club sees Luderitz as an opportunity to promote its windsurfers on the world stage.

“The opportunity over there is much more consistent for people to reach those peak speeds,” Daff said.

The world 500m windsurfing record of 52 knots was set at Luderitz last year but at just eight metres wide at the maximum point, windsurfers appreciate the risk of injury is real.

“We are pretty well practised at sailing one and a half to two metres from the bank at Sandy Point,” Daff said.

“Hopefully we can live up to our expectations as well as everyone else’s.”

Preparation for the African trip is underway, securing hire vehicles and other travel plans for the 1200km journey across the desert from Cape Town in South Africa to Luderitz.

Daff is honing his fitness by swimming, walking, stand up paddleboarding and windsurfing when weather suits.

Daff has been involved in windsurfing since 1980 and was part of speed sailing at Shallow Inlet from 1981-1985. He has been Victorian slalom champion and ranked in the world’s top 10 for many years.

Kint, of Drysdale near Geelong, has been ranked in the top three speed sailors in Australia since 2010 and last year, missed on first place by a point.

Spottiswood, of Beaumaris in Melbourne, is now ranked third internationally in the overall five by 10 second world rankings.

He is ranked sixth in the world for the nautical mile average, and has been one of only two Australians to reach 50 knots on a windsurfer.

The evolution of GPS units has allowed speed surfers to forgo their reliance on burdensome timing equipment and the need to rearrange courses when wind changes. Now, a surfer can don a GPS unit and view their speed instantaneously.

Travelling at nearly 90km/h above water wearing nothing but a wetsuit and helmet does not faze Daff.

“You get used to it because there are not a lot of things to give you that reference to speed at Sandy Point. You are running alongside a feature less sandbar,” he said.

Away from his role as a humanities and outdoor education teacher at Sale College, Daff advises sailmakers KA Sails and fin developers.

“Boards are always very light weight and precisely shaped, so there is quite a lot of high tech in it. You have to get that combination exactly right for the conditions,” he said.


Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=7196

Posted by on May 21 2013. Filed under News, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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