A few weeks ago in Luderitz, Namibia, the conditions came together and allowed Roberto Hofmann and Twan Verseput to join the elite circle of the 50 Knots Club. Read more from Rob below:
“I started speed sailing just a few years ago. The first time I tried a real speed board was in 2015, right after the Défi Wind in France. Somehow, I managed to reach the 40-knot barrier for the first time and was super happy about that. Then, in July 2015, I went to the Dunkerbeck GPS Speed Challenge on Fuerteventura and became the 2015 ISWC European Speed Champion in the Masters category and 4th place overall. This result really motivated me.
After that, I started to do trips to the speed Mecca of La Franqui more regularly! My speeds were getting better every time and I was getting closer to the 50-knot barrier on open water.
This year, at the 2017 Dunkerbeck GPS Speed Challenge, I managed to finish in 2nd place in the windiest race and sailed really close to World Champion and fellow Starboard team rider Twan Verseput. For the first time in my life, I also beat Bjorn [Dunkerbeck] in speed. I guess this achievement alone gave me the motivation to go to Luderitz and give the record a go!
So I trained hard in the gym, went on loads of trips to La Franqui to practice and fine tune my equipment. Finally, I won the monthly rankings for October on www.gps-speedsurfing.com with a new PB, while also recording close to 49 knots in max speed.
Seeing my progress, I decided to book two weeks in the Luderitz canal out of the possible six weeks window. I made my way to Cape Town on November 3 and then drove the 1,200 km to Luderitz.
Unfortunately, I was unlucky over the first week and only managed to sail a few days on the canal with a mere 25 knots and never enough power. It did help to build up my confidence though. I knew that I would be able to show my skills in the strong winds. Finally, on November 15th, the wind filled in with 40 knots and some very strong gusts! Thanks to my practice the week before, I felt confident straight away and almost immediately did a few runs above 49 knots on the 500 meters course.
Then I did the most incredible thing… I managed to do 50.01 knots on 500 meters!!! Only 11 sailors before me have managed to hit that magic barrier. Twan [Verseput] joined the 50-knot club with me that day with 50.02 knots, beating me by 0.01 knot! Twan and myself would remain to be the ONLY TWO sailors to break this barrier during the 2017 Luderitz Speed Challenge.
I think nobody really counted on me to achieve this performance and join this elite club but my hard work payed off! It took all my savings to finance this project but it was probably meant to be this way!
I used the 2018 iSonic Speed Luderitz Special W.44 production board for many runs, combined with a 5.4m² speed sail. However, for the record run, I used a 40 cm wide iSonic Speed prototype with 19 cm asymmetrical fin! I was also wearing 8 kg of ballast weight on my shoulders!
For me, this a dream come true. It showed me that if you really want to reach a goal, you can do it! Now my next objective is to break the magical barrier of 54 knots or 100 km/h. I’ve already managed to reach 52.5 knots and hope that I will have the support to reach this new barrier.”
– Robert Hofmann