A HUNDRED adrenaline junkies are set to descend on Portland this weekend to race wind-powered vessels at exhilarating speeds across the harbour.

Weymouth Speed Week, the world’s longest-running speed Sailing event, is returning to the borough this Saturday and organisers hope strong winds will blow for the special 40th anniversary year.

More than 100 sailors, kiteboarders and windsurfers have so far registered to take part in the annual competition, from UK, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Sweden and Austria.

Weymouth Speed Week, which began in 1972, challenges sailors of any wind-powered craft to sail as fast as they can over a distance of 500m, as many times as they like.

A competitor’s speed is recorded as the average speed over that distance, with results measured by Global Positioning System (GPS).

Event spokesman Nick Povey said he was pleased that a quarter of the entries were from first-time competitors.

He said: “We’ve got a lot of windsurfers taking part including the big names of Dave White and Ant Baker.

“Sadly, less and less people are building interesting boats and competing but if any local boats want to test their speed out on the course we would welcome them and could offer a day rate.

“It seems bizarre that we’ve never had the 49er skiff go down the course, it would be interesting to see how they compare to the windsurfers.”

Mr Povey urged spectators to come and watch from the host venue, the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy at Osprey Quay and follow the live event website.

He added: “It’s our 40th anniversary year which is great, Wey-mouth Speed Week was the world’s first and is now the longest running speed sailing event by a long way.

“We are getting a bit clever with the results, we’ve spent a lot of money and bought some fantastic weather data buoys so we can get from the course every second of wind speed and wind direction.

“We’ll be able to see how fast people are going compared to the wind and give prizes for efficiency.”

The opening weekend events of Weymouth Speed Week will include a Junior Competition.

This year, in celebration of the 40th anniversary milestone, competitors are urged to dig out their old sailing equipment and test it for speed.

The current Portland speed record of 38.48 knots was set by Anders Bringdal in 2008 on a sailboard.

Competitors are also challenged to beat the outright World Speed Record; that currently stands at 55.65 knots and was set by American kiteboarder Robert Douglas at the Luderitz Speed Challenge in Namibia in October 2010.

Visit WeymouthSpeedWeek. com or find Weymouth Speed Week on Facebook.