LIGHT winds could not stop the fun when racing got underway at the 40th anniversary event of Weymouth Speed Week.

International competitors flocked to Portland Harbour to take part in the world’s oldest and longest-running speed Sailing competition, which is renowned for its ‘fun and friendly’ atmosphere.

More than 100 kiteboarders, windsurfers and sailors from the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Nether-lands, Sweden and Austria have registered to compete in adrenaline-fuelled event.

Action kicked off on Saturday and Wey Valley student Tom Wells was among those competing in the opening weekend’s Junior Competition.

Speed Week, which began in 1972, encourages sailors of any wind-powered craft to achieve the fastest average speed over a 500-metre course, with results measured by Global Positioning System (GPS).

Competitors can race as many times as they like across the speed strip in the harbour, which is a popular speed sailing location due to its unique combination of flat water – created naturally by Chesil Bank – and its angle to the prevailing south westerly winds.

Pro windsurfer Ant Baker said: “Obviously it’s been pretty light winds this weekend, about 10 knots and for most of the speed guys and top guys we’re used to it being a bit windier.

“But it’s good to see everyone, there’s a great atmosphere.

“The British speed title is up for grabs and so is the slalom champion title at the British Slalom Association competition next weekend.”

He added: “I’ve been coming here for 25 years, although not always competing. The fastest I’ve sailed here is 40 knots, the fastest I’ve ever done is 47.5 knots in West Kirby, Merseryside.”

European champion windsurfer David Garrel, of Luxembourg, said: “My first motivation to come here is this event is the best for the social side. I love this event because it’s different from normal competitions, which have all the stress.”

Spectators are invited to soak up the atmosphere from the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy at Osprey Quay venue and follow the live event website.

Academy chief executive John Tweed said: “We cannot express enough our excitement to once again host the Weymouth Speed Week.”

For results visit Weymouth or find Weymouth Speed Week on Facebook.

It’s A Record

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.