Avanti Windsurfing Sails NL

Peter and his Dutch speed PR!

Wadden Sea – Netherlands, Friday June 22.

This is where I broke my pb with a max speed of 88,24 km per hour in this beautiful part of Holland, nowhere else on my travels around the world I ever experienced this kind of landscape.

“Het wad” as it’s called becomes visible upon the falling tide, giving birth to one of the fastest speed sailing spots in the world. The spot is called the Brace, by Marcel Braas, it’s a natural form of canal 1,5 km walk from shore at Oosterland into the sea through what appears as muddy sand.

A lot of people were to be expected here, since only 2 weeks ago all variables lined up for the fastest session of the year world-wide. This time around the situation was shaping up similarly, wind strength and direction, tide and the people there up to go fast. Now I had the chance, outside the tour and R&D slalom schedule, to throw my best shot at the conditions.

Towards the end of the PWA event in Costa Brava there was a forecast for a low pressure system over north-west Europe again towards the end of the week. Initially I thought the forecast would probably not hold, as a forecast like that can easily fizzle out to nothing from that far away, but surprisingly so 1500 km and a week later this one stayed.

Upon rigging my 5.5, the wind seemed like it had some force behind it while some solid gusts started coming through of 40+ knots and people getting ready to take on the challenge.
One of them Jurjen van Noord who only a couple weeks before broke the GPS world record and put this spot solidly on the map.  Other speed specialists Jacques vd Hout, Hans Kreisel, Patrick van Hoof, Dirk Jan Knol, Martin v Meurs to name a few where also there here on this day.

And some personal records, like my own, got smashed!

I rigged the Avanti 5.5 Machine M1 because I am very comfortable on this sail, it delivers stability and speed and I thought if the results were really going to count, it would be helpful to have a small sail. Afterwards, I do think I could have even gone 6.1 but it seemed to be the best choice at the moment. Together with my Fanatic Falcon 45 speed machine, I think I had great equipment for going fast.

As the tide keeps dropping the conditions get better and better. Initially the course was very choppy and claimed one casualty, a guy from Belgium had crashed and broke his hand right off his arm. Totally unaware of this happening, I was focused on my own runs, the stretch of water ahead of me with the strong wind shooting across its surface from behind. And a lot of horse powers! The feeling is something impossible to describe, to be locked-in leaning back front arm and legs stretched, weight in the sail including a 6 kg weight jacket I am now 100 kg, getting propelled forward like a bullet. No holding back, accelerating so fast that the landscape starts to shoot past, completely in the zone.

For a about 20 seconds, then comes the moment to slow down with the sandy end coming near, looking at the GPS and seeing numbers like 85 86, 88 km per hour; it makes you want to go back for more and more, but the body is getting tired and there is still the 1,5 km walk back – straight into the wind. The gusts must be 45 knots and your sail and board get pushed down and back, it was a struggle to walk into the wind so far sinking into the mud. It’s the small price you have to pay and perfect exercise for staying fit. Meanwhile Dennis also crashed hard, and walks away with a concussion and bruised ligaments, not as bad as it seemed to be a broken collarbone.

A noticeable performance came from Ben vd Steen who not only broke his PR but he was also out on a 6.3 as he didn’t bring any smaller sail with him. He proved to be one of the top guys in speed sailing besides being consistently in the top 10 of PWA slalom as well, congratz Ben! Jurjen van Noord was king this day with a max speed of well over 90 km per hour. Our new friend Angelo was there and is working on a film project called “ghosts of speed”. It will be very interesting to see the footage from this day and even more so from the session 2 weeks ago that appeared to have been windier.

At last I hope that everyone who comes sailing here knows what he’s doing because it can be dangerous, accidents can happen but otherwise, just don’t go out.

Stay in control and go with the wind.

All the best,