"We are Sarah Sylvester and Richard Boughton, the UK importers for Jochum and Nesler, JN Kites. We sell and repair kitesurfing equipment in the UK, take part in competitions and travel the globe kitesurfing. Read all about our adventures here!"

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Cape Town, South Africa 2009

Well we got to Cape Town safe and sound with a minimum of fuss. Virgin provided a damn good in-flight meal and on-demand episodes of Blackadder at rock bottom prices, even though they did try and weigh our hand luggage. We have vowed never to fly BA again.
Cape town is amazing. Visually, it’s an incredible place. The city centre is set in a bowl surrounded by the mountains, and then the city spreads north along the coast and into the cape flats. The climate is fantastic. Not too hot, not too cold and it varies a little to keep you on your toes. The contrast between rich and poor here is extremely apparent. You see people from the townships begging at the traffic lights, trying to sell coat hangers to people in a Porsche Cayenne. It’s definitely a city of opposites. From a personal safety point of view, we both feel more comfortable here than in Brazil.
So after arrival, and initial wow factor we needed to complete all three sides of the job, house, car triangle.
We have had 3 different flats. We started in Rondebosch on the side of the mountain, then we were with friends in Milnerton (thanks Tricky and Sonia) on the coast close to the city centre and now we have finally settled for the next couple of months at Big Bay. It's fantastic to be able to wake up, and look out the window at Table Mountain, and then decide what to do with the day.
Job-wise we spoke to a few schools and settled working for Cyclone kiteboarding at Big Bay. It was by far the best location to teach and the guys that run the shop are super friendly. Cyclone is owned by Gavin Spowart from Durban, who was big in surfing and now shapes his own range of kiteboards, surfboards and SUP boards. It was all settled over a beer at Doodles, the local kitesurfing hangout at Table View.
Finding decent transport was a difficult one. There are a lot of very broken second hand cars on the market. In the end we settled for a Mitsubishi Pick up or ‘bakkie’ 4x4. Just to get the thing insured we had to get alarm, immobiliser, central locking and anti-hijack fitted as well as a gear stick lock and a hidden panic button (This cost about £80!). It’s a great truck, we named it the ‘Imperial Chariot’. Nice to have all the kit in the back and the ability to offroad.
We plan to do a lot of overland driving when the season ends here at the end of March. Durban, Lesotho and Mozambique are ideas we have been throwing around.
So since settling into the new flat we have been teaching, kiting and spending time with Sarah’s numerous Capetonian relatives.
The food here is incredible. The meat is great, the fish is great (specially kingklip) and the curries are out of this world. We had an amazing Cape Malay meal on the hill overlooking the business district just the other day. Crayfish curry rocks.
The kite conditions are really great, but a rude awakening after Brazil. The waves can be so perfect with amazing powerful left handers. We bought a small 5”3 surf board which is perfect for the nuking conditions, and big fast waves.
The wind is really dense here as it comes from the south (Antarctica), which means your jumps are twice as high and floaty as usual and your loops are crazy. You can easily get 50-100m of downwind travel on a big kite loop.
The wind seems to follow no particular pattern on Bloubergstrand. You just have to be opportunistic. If it’s blowing South easterly, you can normally guarantee that it will kick in around lunch time and then just build and build until sunset. You can pump every kite from 11m to 6m in an afternoon. Big Bay is one of the nicer spots as it’s protected by two large sets of rocks and you have massive kickers and flat water sections. Freestylers stay on the inside in the flats, and the wave riders go downwind a bit for the point break that comes out just a little north. This separates the two disciplines nicely. We have had some of the waves of our lives out here. Really long, large predictable wave riding. After all the crowded lagoons and body destroying freestyle in Brazil, this is exactly what we needed. It’s the sort of variable conditions that keep you interested, keep you on your toes and bring the passion back into your kitesurfing.
Everyone who thinks of Cape Town, thinks of those big hungry fish with teeth. Wildlife wise, we have seen some seals surfing with us, which is always a complete joy. They love the waves as much as we do! There has been the occasional dolphin and a lot of very smelly penguins and other assorted seabirds who sit on the rocks at Big Bay. Every now and then you get freaked out by a bit of kelp which is floating about but so far, so good.
Other JN folk are out here. Leander is living just out the back of our house, it’s nice to see the cheeky young Belgian fellow and we plan to do some trips with him. Mike Schitzhofer is here with his family and is absolutely ripping at the moment. Making the two of us feel very old and inadequate! We went to visit Hannah Whiteley and co in Langebaan and she has also come on loads.
So the plan is to carry on doing much the same for the next couple of months and then go on some adventures. We have been taking some video and will put something together at the end of the trip.