West Cork-based windsurfer sets new top speed in Namibia

December 18th, 2021 2:30 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Marc Roosli in action at the Lüderitz Speed Challenge 2021 in Namibia. (Photo: Farrel O’Shea)

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THERE are many reasons why Marc Roosli loves to call West Cork home – and high on his list are its prime windsurfing spots.

One of his favourite areas is near Cunnamore and Heir Island, just in front of the sailing school. Baltimore also gets top marks from Roosli, as does Lisheen, heading towards Kilcoe Castle. Inchydoney, in the right conditions, offers world-class waves. Coolmain Beach in Kilbrittain also earns his seal of approval, and that matters as this Swiss windsurfer, who has lived in West Cork since 2016, is one of the best – and fastest – in the business.

Roosli (47) has a need for speed, and has had since he started windsurfing back home in Switzerland when he was 13 years old. Now he is one of Ireland’s top speed windsurfers; speed sailing is his favourite discipline. A narrow board and lots of wind are two must-haves, as well as the right setting.


West Cork offers him the ideal training base, including the run along the sand bank at low tide in Courtmacsherry, but Roosli took it to the next level when he competed at last month’s Lüderitz Speed Challenge 2021 in Namibia. There, the Bandon-based windsurfer, who previously lived in Kilcoe in Skibbereen, joined the elite who were chasing the world record.

He made the trip with Oisín van Gelderen, the current Irish sailing speed record holder, and the pair were united in their goal to go faster than they ever had before. Their final destination was the desert town of Lüderitz in Namibia.

‘There is a narrow man-made channel dug into a lagoon in one of the windiest places on the planet,’ Roosli explains. ‘This course is designed to provide the vital ingredients of flat water and howling winds required to achieve world record speeds.’

Now for the technical information. ‘Peak speed is the maximum speed achieved on a run, while ratified speed is the average achieved over 500 metres. It is the ratified speed that records are based on,’ Roosli adds.

Van Gelderen holds the Irish record having hit 49.36knots (average over 500m) and a peak speed of 51.97knots (96kmh) in 2017. These exploits inspired Roosli. In Luderitz, and once he got used to the narrowness of the channel, he improved his personal best every day on the water.

Roosli’s final speed of 45.53knots over 500 metres and 48knot peak (89kmh) was reached in just 30 knots of wind.

‘I had set my goal to 45 knots over 500 metres and am absolutely delighted to have achieved this, but the celebrations were short lived. No sooner was I back on the trailer ferrying us back to the start box, I had the bar raised. 46 knots became somewhat of an obsession for the rest of the trip but unfortunately the wind never went over 30 knots during my stay, making the task very difficult,’ he says.

‘However, having had the opportunity to sail at speeds exceeding 40 knots for 12 consecutive days gave me the opportunity to progress to a level that would have probably taken me three to four years in Ireland to achieve, patiently waiting for South westerly gales and the right combination of tides and daylight.’

Roosli finishes 2021 in the top 25 in the world rankings and in the top 10 in his weight category. His need for speed is still there, and he wants to go back to Lüderitz. He is already training hard at his local speed spot in Courtmacsherry and also looking for a sponsor to help him make the trip again in 2022 to improve on his result.

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