Thursday, November 25, 2010
Interview Sebastian Cattelan
Interview taken from the Genetrix website: http://www.genetrixkites.fr/en/home/268-interview-seb-cattelan
Background: Seb “Catman” Cattellan (Genetrix/Xelerator) is both the organizer of the Luderitz Speed Challenge held annually in Luderitz, Namibia and a fearsome competitor in that same event. He shocked the speed world by breaking the 50 knot record in 2008, and wrote his name in the history books again this year by being the first kiter or sailor of any discipline to reach 55 knots over a 500 meter course, while also taking home the French and European records in what has traditionally been a completely French-dominated event.
Only this year, an American (Rob Douglas) was able to snatch the overall record from Seb by 15 hundredths of a knot, bringing the overall record to America for the first time in memory and laying the groundwork for what is certain to become a battle royale between speed sailors from old world and the new in years to come.
- How was your journey to becoming the fastest speed sailor in France and Europe with a record of 55.49 knots over 500m?
Above all it was a result of a strong team around me; I couldn’t have done it without them. It seems obvious to say this but this is probably the biggest part of my performance. The trust and support of my better half, my family, my friends, and my team were all integral. Through their support and faith, from the very beginning I was able to find the strength to keep me going. This was key during this fourth edition of the Speed Challenge, now that the level of competition has increased dramatically.
I clearly recall the run when I broke the world sailing speed record. Despite a bad start, I knew this run was good. When I crossed the finish line in a spray of white water and heard shouting, I knew that this could be potentially great news. At the sight of the display board, Martial Camblong from Genetrix, my kite sponsor jumped on me saying “Bloody hell, you exploded the clock!”
My life flashed by me: the successes and failures in my career since my start in freestyle in 2000, successive battles related to the organization of this completely insane competition in the Namibian desert, where the hard work of the past four years paid off.
The thing to understand is that being able to set records like this is the culmination of so much effort! It's tough to explain...
Even assuming Rob Douglas ends up with the official world record with 55.65, getting my records was a great moment for me. I believe my tenacity in facing what was at stake allowed me to combine my athletic and organizing abilities. Wearing two hats in moments like this is physically and mentally challenging, but I managed to do it.
One may ask why am I crazy enough to both organize the event and compete in it. I would say that I’m fortunate to do both! The speed canal that I dug is my baby ... it is hard to imagine but each angle of the run has to be positioned exactly, every detail is considered, so all my years of experience have really helped in its realization. Finally, I compete because this is why I am here, still taking part despite my seniority. I'm still trying to improve and pass down the knowledge I have learned. It is my reason to live. It's not a job, it's a passion that never dies ...
- What changes have you made this year regarding your fitness and training as well as your equipment?
This is the first time that I used a physical trainer in my preparation. Thanks to a customized training program from this Olympic coach, it boosted my potential. He also worked on my diet, and gave me a nutritional regimen for before, during and after intense physical effort in a competition like this one.
My progression also benefited from having coached Sophie in speed kiting for months. Finally, an intense and regular interaction with Martial ultimately paid off. Having worked extensively on research and development, the 9m Genetrix Hydra revealed itself to be the ultimate weapon for me. Very difficult to do better.
Board-wise, the South African brand Xelerator intensifies its development by participating frequently in the speed event, to better understand the needs of this discipline.
- You were the world record holder for a brief period before Rob Douglas during that epic day when both of you crossed the 55 knot barrier. What was your first reaction when you realized you'd just given him your first place?
"It's the law of the jungle, except that I am a cat and a cat has nine lives..."
- You're a competitor and organizer. Your point of view?
The fact that I am also a competitor is a weakness for me and that I am also the organizer is a strength for the other competitors.
- What has been most striking in the 2010 edition of the Speed Challenge?
The smiles on the competitors’ faces when they see their extraordinary times on the results board. It is my reward.
- The windsurfers were invited to the party this year -- what is your assessment of the outcome for them?
It was the first time we tried to be constructive together to try to develop valid competitive conditions for them. It made me think of our transition 2007-2008 where we had changed the run for the first time. We deduced certain things and avoided some problems for windsurfers. I have tried hard to integrate their needs into the competition so that many possibilities are open to them. I think that windsurfers can go faster than kiters. They simply need an appropriate playground.
- As an organizer, how did you get to come up with a run of 500 meters capable of recording average speeds of over 100 km / h?
I did countless tests with my GPS to learn in detail the necessary elements while taking into account various criteria. You have to take into consideration biology, currents, tides, weather and the fact that our competition was held in a natural reserve. A Namibian headache! Yet, there were still a few disgruntled people who did not realize the magnitude of the accomplishment in simply hosting an event like this. To them I say: never bite the hand that feeds you.
- You promised 50 knots in 2008. It happened. You have predicted the 100 km / h for this year. Four competitors (including yourself) made it. What can we expect next, is 60 knots possible?
I am proud to have lent credibility to my event by giving riders a chance to prove themselves.
Until now, the best ever recorded top speed on GPS is 62 knots (see www.gps-kitesurfing.com). (I set this record using the Genetrix Hydra). On a run like this year’s, with that kind of top speed, an average of 60 knots in the 500m is achievable, but for that I still think there will need to be a step up in the development of the gear and a tweaking of the run.
- Any final words?
To all readers ...:
Before turning the page, be sure you have retained enough information to be able to impress at your next dinner party with all the knowledge about the quest for the 100 km / h!