Oisin van Gelderen in Luderitz this week. Picture: Stefan Csaky

Twenty-seven time national windsurfing champion Oisín van Gelderen has become the first ever Irish sailor to break the 50 knot speed barrier, during his final week competing at the Luderitz World Speed Sailing Challenge in Namibia, Africa.

Van Gelderen – who hails from Loughshinny – joined the fastest sailors in the world for the last three weeks in Luderitz, with the aim of increasing his Irish Sailing Speed record (measured over 500m), and trying to break the elusive 50 knot barrier.

The Luderitz course, a canal dug in a lagoon at the edge of the desert, has been specially designed to take advantage of the gale to storm force winds common in this part of Africa.
Van Gelderen significantly improved his record on his second day at the event.

He took on winds gusting 90 kph (Beaufort Force 9 – strong to severe Gale).

But it wasn’t until this week that he reached his aim: he exceeded 50 knots, hit a high of 50.8knots (94kph), and set an official WSSRC ratified National record of 47.97 knots (88.85kph) over 500m.

Commenting on his achievements, Van Gelderen noted: “With the experience I have now gained, and the changes I made to technique and tuning, I know I could possibly do a 50-knot 500m run, but for now I’m very happy.

“It’s only with the experience of doing it, that I can work out what is possible.

“I have peaked seven times over 50 knots (50.8), achieved my goal of setting a respectable record, and I can leave Luderitz very proud, knowing I put everything into it.”

It continues his swift increase in speed. He won the Irish speed record back from John Kenny in April 2017 when he set a speed of 42.14 knots, around 78 kph and has continued his remarkable improvements in speed ever since.