Mark John Grinnell
New World production speed record and All African speed record
"Those who take part in windsurfing world attempts have to be more than a little crazy, almost fearless and driven by some impulse that most people will simply never understand."
~ Mark Grinnell ~
Mark Grinnell again entered the Lüderitz speed challenge that takes place in Namibia in a man-made canal. The Lüderitz World Speed Sailing Challenge is the most extreme windsurfing event on the planet. A manmade canal with hurricane plus winds that the average person would take cover from yet alone sail down. It’s dangerous and unbelievably fast and on the extreme limits of control if there is such a thing.
He has been knocked out at least four times while windsurfing in his speed sailing career. In 2013, in the first week of the event he broke three ribs. He was patched up and ‘tied together’ with duct tape and in the second week (bolstered by anti-inflammatory pills) he managed to achieve his top speed, which secured for him the seventh place in international ranking and the top place in South Africa and Africa.
"This year, on the 2nd of November the World no 1 Antoine Albeau of France did a 53.27knots after 33 runs down the canal and sailing with custom equipment. World no 2 Patrik Diethelm of Switzerland achieved 52.33knots after many runs too. On the 14th November I managed an average of 51.83knots over the 500m run with a top speed of 53.51 which equates to 99.61kph. The wind was blowing over 109kph so the desert sand stings your hands and feet and makes it difficult to walk. Stones fly and it really is like being assaulted by the elements of nature.
According to the Beaufort wind scale, a violent storm consists pf 88.5kph winds and a hurricane 102.99kph, so my record run was achieved in insane hurricane plus winds whilst standing on a windsurf speed board and holding onto a sail for dear life. I was the only sailor in the water as the conditions were not only insanely windy but also choppy on the canal so danger of getting hurt and having an accident. I started my run crossed the start line and just continued to accelerate while trying to hold on and keep the board in the water. As I crossed the finish line and tried to stop, I realised that the water was just too choppy and impossible, so I let go of my equipment and rolled over and over in 30cm deep water at nearly 90kph. It was like being in a car accident while carrying an extra 10kg of lead on my back in a weight jacket. This is how I got the name Cannonball.
In short you get your speed board ( big water-ski ) going, hold on for dear life, "turn the corner" and accelerate from 20 knots to 50 knots in just over 50 meters! It’s like having a rocket up your ass and then navigate your way down the 500m long canal while getting pulled around by the wind, blasted by sand and small stones and when it’s all over you need to stop within 50 meters which is in itself near impossible. Far less control than being in a race car as the elements are in control and with the use of your weight jacket you hold on and hope to keep it all together.
At the end of the day I am 1.44knots off the world record and only 0.5knots off second place and all that with standard production equipment. Not bad as a recreational sailor compared to world professionals whose living is derived from the sport of windsurfing. Now I’m the third fastest in the world of all time.
The fastest production speed sailor in the world ever. No 1. !!"
Lüderitz Canal 2015
(The starting line on the left followed by a 500m run and then the stop over 50m on the right)