Multiple Irish Windsurfing Champion Oisín van Gelderen from Dublin joins the fastest windsurfers in the world, in a bid to break the Windsurfing Speed World Record, at a newly designed speed course at Salins De La Palme, in the south of France. The Irish GPS Speed Record Holder qualified for a wildcard invitation to the event, based on his previous speeds and potential to perform. Being invited to join the fastest windsurfers in the world at a specialised location, is the equivalent of being invited to play in the Croke Park Final, or the Golf Masters. He aims to use the opportunity to break his own personal best speeds and smash the 50knot barrier (92.6kph), and set a new official Irish Speed Record over 500merres - ratified by the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Records Council).
The current windsurfing Speed World Record, held by Frenchman Antoine Albeau (France), stands at 53.27 knots (98.65kph) over 500 metres, which was set at purpose built speed canal in Luderitz, Namibia. This country is currently home to all the fastest speeds in the World - in both Windsurfing and Kitesurfing - and the Outright Sailing Speed World Record by Australian Sailor Paul Larsen (Aus), who in a custom build carbon fibre boat, blew everyone else away with a speed of 65.45 knots (121.21kph).
The La Palme course in France, is the brainchild of UK windsurfer Erik Beale, who in 1988 became the first sailor (of any kind) in history to break 40–knot barrier. With his vast experience, he sourced out potential locations that could provide world record breaking conditions, and found a location in France that could provide the essential combination of gale force wind and very flat water. The Tramontana wind howls offshore throughout this part of France, and the course itself is set in a salt marsh just inland of the Mediterranean, close to Leucate.
The world record challenge runs for seven weeks until the end of April, and Oisín's bid lasts for the first three weeks. To date, he has experienced moderate wind conditions for the start of the challenge, which has given good training runs but nothing near a record. For now, all the windsurfers wait for the Tramontana to properly show it's full force, and then the hope is that records will fall