The first thing to know is that speed competitions are not about breaking world records, for instance in the case of the Dunkerbeck GPS Speed Challenge, taking place this week, the competition is about getting people in to speed and allowing them the rare opportunity to mix with the big names on the same race course. For all the competitors all that matters at this event is if you are performing well against the others, not if you are breaking your own personal bests or world records.
Yes in some cases the events are tailored to record attempts for which this will be governed by the WSSRC who verify all sorts of speed records for all sail powered sports; windsurfing, kiting, sailing, even the round the world record that Ellen MacArthur became so famous for. Within windsurfing, one such even ticks all the boxes in this category and that is what goes on once a year at the purpose built trench in Namibia.
With this in mind speed events, in general, can be categorised as follows:
Fixed course – Where usually a 250m or 500m course is laid out and it is the fastest person between these two points that wins. This can be with either a GPS device or video timed.
Non-fixed course – Utilising a GPS based device this is the most common form of competition, where people can record their times anywhere at any spot in the world and post it to gps-speedsurfing.com to compare against others. From the data you can see a number of results including your peak speed, your 2 second maximum, your average over several distances, the most common of which is 5x 10 seconds. So you windsurf flat out for 10 seconds and your distance is converted in to a speed.
Using the Dunkerbeck GPS Speed Challenge as an example the competitors will have to race down a 250m course with over 40 other competitors lined up behind them waiting to go. Everyone will be wearing a GPS and their times will be recorded during each run within the box area laid out as the course. Thus a fixed course with GPS format.
So how does the event itself work?