Sailor of the Week: Nov. 10-16
Last month at the Luderitz Speed Challenge in Luderitz, Namibia, American Kite sailor Rob Doug las of Vineyard Haven, Mass. shattered the outright world speed record. On Oct. 28, Rob hit a new speed record of 55.65 knots in wind speeds that reached 45 knots. The world speed record had been held by Alain Thebault (FRA) and his foiling trimaran in 2009. He had set the record with a speed of 51.36 knots in Hyeres, France.
Watch his record breaking performance
A verification process will be conducted by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, and should be completed by November or early December. Here is what Rob had to say about his record breaking performance, the goal of North American Speed Sailing Project, his need for speed, and his broken wrist:
US SAILING: Do you think your record breaking performances have inspired Americans to try kite sailing?
Rob Douglas: “I created the North American Speed Sailing Project (NASSP) with hope of building a team of American speed sailors that could eventually challenge other nations for the outright world speed sailing title. Prior to NASSP, no American had ever held the outright world record. The NASSP team now consists of five other speed sailors including, Jamie Douglas, Bill lynch, Damien Leroy, Morgan Douglas and Melissa Gil (2009 IKA Women's World Kitespeed Champion), along with coach Mike Gebhardt, a two-time Olympic medalist in the Mistral class. I hope my records have introduced other American sailors to the possibilities of speed sailing. Beginners should take lessons from a certified instructor, and contact NASSP if speed sailing is something that they would like to pursue.”
US SAILING: How is the broken wrist? How did it happen? Why do you race in trenches?
Rob Douglas: “The once broken, but now new titanium reinforced wrist is healing nicely. Dr. Bruce Leslie of Newton Wellesley Hospital performed the surgery and says I should be back on the water in 6 weeks. I broke the wrist on my second run of the day, on October 28th after crossing the finish line. The overrun after the finish in Ludertiz is only 100 meters long, which makes it difficult to stop when crossing the line in speeds in excess of 57 knots. The narrow trench creates very flat water. Flatter water allows the rider to have more control. This flat water made the course faster. There were far less crashes on the course this year vs. the 2008 and 2009 events. If a crash occurs in the trench, it is more dangerous now because speeds are greater than 55 knots and there is dry sand on the downwind side of the course.”
US SAILING: What is next for you and the NASSP?
Rob Douglas: “I am looking forward to defending the outright World Speed Sailing Record and bringing the NASSP team to compete in the Mondial du Vent in April 2011, a race between the worlds 30 fastest windsurfers and 30 fastest kiters.”
US SAILING: When did you start sailing? Did/Do other members of your family sail? What do you enjoy most about sailing?
Rob Douglas: “I first started sailing at a very young age with my father aboard his 152' wooden topsail schooner, Shenandoah. I started racing windsurfers in 1988 and got my first Cabrinha kite in 2002. My parents and my three brothers all sail schooners, windsurfers, or Cabrinha kites. My father, Robert Douglas Sr., and brothers Morgan and Brooke are charter boat captains. The things that I enjoy most about sailing is racing and competing in winds greater than 40 knots, sailing with my friends, winning and designing my next generation of Mike's Lab (Mike Zajicek) speed boards.”
Learn more about the NASSP and their achievements in Luderitz.