With UK speedsailors regularly lighting up the UK’s favourite strips and the incredible growth of GPS speedsailing globally, there’s never been a better time to find out just how fast you really can go. Pete Davis, with maybe a little help from our very own editor, shows you how to get your GPS unit singing…
You lot just don’t realise how lucky you are. Back in the day, getting the opportunity to just have a go at speedsailing was a nightmare. Before any would-be world record breakers could begin to thread their needles down a speed strip, they had to justify their place in a competition by entering pre-qualifying events. And if there was no wind or you didn’t know the right people, you didn’t get in. Period. Even the legendary Whitey had to pre-qualify for Weymouth in 1985, which he had to do on a longboard and with an average speed of 4 knots over 500m just to get a shot in the main event. (He recalls that painfully slow run being recorded for posterity, but cameraman Mark Minter got so bored by the halfway stage that he turned the camera upside-down!)
Combine all that palaver with organising events using an extremely expensive and temperamental video timing setup off the beach, and it’s a miracle that speedsailing ever got off the ground.
Thankfully, those days are well behind us, and speedsailing is now accessible to all. Much of this is, of course, down to technology – with modern GPS devices and online rankings it is now so easy to try speedsailing and see just how fast you really can go. It’s not all about being the fastest in the world or having dedicated speed kit, either. You can compare yourself against your mates on freeride kit at your local spot just for the bragging rights. Sure beats the hell out of just sailing up and down over the same stretch of water.
The recommended unit to have is the Navi / Genie GT31 with a 2GB SD card, which can store loads of data so nothing gets lost. Setting the unit up can be a bit daunting at first, but once it’s sorted you just strap it on your arm and go sailing.