Weymouth Speed Week is the oldest and longest-running speed sailing event in the world. Held annually since 1972, it has challenged sailors of a wide variety of wind-powered craft to sail as fast as they can over a distance of 500m. A competitor’s speed is recorded as the average speed over that distance.
This October we celebrate the event’s 40th anniversary; the fun starts on Saturday the 6th and ends on Friday the 12th with a prize-giving ceremony. To celebrate this milestone in the event’s history, remember to dig out and bring along your old sailing equipment. You never know, that old Speed Needle and Dacron sail from the 1980’s may prove to be a winning combination!
Today’s competitors comprise kite boarders, sail boarders and boaters. They compete over a 500m course laid out in Portland Harbour. The number of courses and their positions can vary each day according to the prevailing and anticipated wind conditions. Each course has a start line and each competitor is free to choose their best angle to maximise their speed. Each competitor’s run is now accurately measured by GPS with the recorded GPS data processed each day to generate the results for each of the competition classes. Competitors are also free to put in as many runs as they can; on a windy day, the course can be a constant buzz as the competitors relentlessly charge up and down to find the best wind.
Sailing fast is not simply about sailing in strong winds; whilst strong winds provide the basis for a fast run, a sailor’s ability to sail efficiently and consistently is highly important. Sailing fast in less-than-perfect winds presents an opportunity to demonstrate a sailor’s skill and judgement.
Weymouth Speed Week is a unique event. All sailors with an interest in speed sailing are invited to compete and there are no restrictions upon the craft you may sail – experimental craft are particularly welcome. There are, in fact, few rules to who can compete; so long as your craft is wind-powered, it is eligible. The event has attracted some of the world’s top professional and record-holding sailors over the years. The event allows first-time competitors to compete with professionals on the same course – not something normally offered by other events.
Online entry is now open, and spaces are filling up quickly! A very small amount of two day entrances remain, check the speedweek website to enter now http://www.weymouthspeedweek.com/