The fastest man on water, kiteboarder Rob Douglas set a new outright world speed record in 2010 in Luderitz, Namibia. On 28 October Douglas was one of five kiteboarders to break the previous record, held by the trimaran L'Hydroptère. Douglas did so by the biggest margin, more than four knots, setting a new record of 55.65 knots or 103.1 kilometres per hour.
The flat water of the 3-5 metre wide, 750 metre long trench and the regularity with which Luderitz produces wind in excess of 40 knots makes it the ideal location for speed record attempts. The enormity of the physical and mental challenge that it takes to exceed 50 knots on a kite board should not be underestimated. The skill and fitness of the athletes involved is truly outstanding. There are only a handful of people who have achieved this benchmark speed, and Douglas' record sets him above them all.
Douglas is no stranger to being the fastest human under sail. In 2008 he claimed the world speed record with a speed of 49.84 knots becoming the first kiteboarder to hold the title. His position was short-lived as the 50 knot barrier was broken in the same year, but Douglas' phenomenal effort in 2010 has eclipsed the competition once again.
Outright World Speed Record Holder - 55.65 knots (103.1 kph) set on 28 October 2010 in Luderitz, Namibia
Rob outperformed the previous record by more than 4 knots.
What inspired you to take up sailing?
Growing up and working with my father in the family windjammer businesss.
What was the first boat you ever sailed and how old were you?
A 152' wooden topsail schooner called Shenandoah when I was 16 years old.
Name your first sailing club
North America Speed Sailing Project
What was the first event you competed in and in what year?
A Windsurfing regatta at Barrington Rhode Island Yacht Club in the spring of 1988.
What are you personal sailing career highlights?
Being the first kitesurfer and first American ever to hold the outright world speed sailing record when I set a new record in 2008 at 49.84knots. Claiming the current outright world speed record in 2010 at 55.65knts. Multiple American speed sailing records - 47.63 knots, 50.95 knots, 51.88 knots and 52.58 knots in 2010. Being nominated for the US SAILING's Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in 2010.
What are your future sailing goals?
To continue to develop and organize a team of American speed sailors (NASSP). Be the first sailor to break 60 knots.
Who has had the greatest impact on your sailing and career and why?
William J Lynch, Lynch Associates for his dedicated sponsorship support and enthusiasm for capturing world records.
Who is your sailing hero?
Sir Ernest Schackleton for making one of the most incredible small boat voyages ever.
What other sports do you enjoy?
Windsuring, surfing, biking and running.
What does being nominated for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards mean to you and how would you feel if you were voted the winner?
It is extremely gratifying to me that speed sailing is being recognized at the highest level and I am honoured to represent the kitesurfing class.