Just when we thought that mankind had mastered the water in every possible recreational manner, varying in extremes from jet skiing to fly boarding, body boarding to surfing, along comes kite surfing – one of the most efficient ways to harvest the power of the seaside elements for the ultimate adrenalin rush.
Making use of the waves and wind, both abundant resources in Cape Town, kitesurfing came into existence in the 1990s and has been growing in popularity ever since.
This trendy pastime can most easily be described as a combination of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics, and is readily available to both visitors and locals on the shores of the Mother City. Cape Town is a top choice destination for kiters from November to March with its mild weather, quiet beaches and reliable wind, while Table Bay is internationally admired for its optimum kite surfing conditions and scenic views overlooked by Table Mountain.
Basically, this extreme sport involves paddling out to sea, harnessed between a specially adapted surfboard and a kite, and then throwing yourself at the mercy of the wind for a couple of hours.
During its short history this sport has developed a dizzying lingo all of its own, and before you decide that it looks like fun, and go out and invest thousands in all the necessary gear, it would be wise to take a few lessons from a reputable operator in order to learn the ropes, and the language that goes along with it. An uneducated kite surfer can easily turn into a dangerous missile out on the water and is a hazard to other kiters, surfers, windsurfers and themselves.
Join in the fun
Kitesurfing schools are abundant along the beaches of Blouberg, Big Bay, Kite Beach, Doodles Beach, Haakgat, Sunset Beach and even the Langebaan Lagoon, offering basic instruction and equipment hire for those who are keen to give it a bash out on the open ocean. Ask around to find one that suits your needs and offers classes which are congruent with your level of experience and expectations.
Most operators offer beginners classes which involve a rudimentary introduction to the sport, conducted by a qualified instructor. High Five Kitesurfing School offer a five-step, three-day course for newbies which is limited to two students at a time and will teach you all about equipment set-up, land-based flying, self-launch, body-dragging and simple board skills. For the uninitiated, this means how to balance, get your kite into the air, drag through the water without a board, and how to stop, start and steer while out on the water.
Onward and upward
While these simple skills may be enough to satisfy your curiosity it is only natural that you may still gaze upon the extravagant jumps and tricks of more experienced kite surfers with considerable envy.
In this case, High Five has more advanced courses on offer too and are open ‘as long as the wind is blowing’ (and I assume the ‘sun is shining’) to cater to your airborne aspirations and get you ‘boosting like a pro’ (sailing through the air) in no time. They also offer downwind shuttles for those who can’t or simply can’t be asked to steer their kites back upwind to the starting point.
Even if you haven’t worked up the nerve to try it out yourself, the antics of these aquatic tricksters are fascinating to watch and a visit to one of these kite surfing beaches, just a few minutes’ drive from the Cape Town CBD, makes for an entertaining day spent outdoors in the fresh sea air. The return of kitesurfing’s most definitive competition the Red Bull King of the Air in 2016 is acknowledgment itself that to those in the know, Cape Town is The Mecca of kitesurfing.
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