KITEBOARDING IN SOUTH AFRICA
What Gear to Bring
What kite gear should you bring to South Africa?
If you’re planning your first-ever kitesurfing holiday at Cape Town’s popular Kite Beach in Blouberg or the lagoon of Langebaan, this article is for you!
Trying to fit all the gear you need in 23kg of luggage is an art form, and the only chance you’ve got to make it work is by bringing a carefully selected quiver. If you’ve got a 32kg allowance or if you’re travelling with a partner whom you can share gear with, you’ve got a lot more flexibility! But, you can still use up your weight allowance quickly if you’re not packing carefully.
Chances are if you’re planning a kite trip to South Africa, you’re here to set your WOO personal best, or get stuck into some epic wave sessions. Cape Town, with its strong winds and potentially big waves, doesn’t offer up the best hydrofoiling conditions, though a little further up the Western Cape, you’ll find a foilers paradise in Langebaan. However, this article is primarily focused on twin tip and wave riders looking for some advice.
So, what kites do you need for a Cape Town kite trip?
First, you need to understand how to read the wind here. You may see a forecast of 20 knots of wind, and assume that 20 knots in Cape Town are the same as 20 knots in Cabarete or 20 knots in Brazil. That is absolutely not the case! Cape Town wind is dense and punchy. One way to interpret the strength of the wind in Blouberg, if you’re not familiar with super-dense wind, is to look at the forecast and add 8-10 knots to it.
There’s a lot of science behind our powerful Cape Doctor wind, which we won’t go into here as it’s a little too complex for this article (and our brains). The true explanation includes words like anti-cyclonic, counter-clockwise flow, interplay between areas of high and low atmospheric pressure, pressure gradients, etc. Serious stuff! You can read more about our nuclear winds and how they work on the Red Bull website, which explains why this location is the ideal spot for the Red Bull King of the Air!
If your priority is to kite every single day while you’re here, you’ll probably want 3 kites that cover a range of around 5m (so, a 5-7-9 or 6-8-10 if you’re quite small or a 7-10-12 or 8-11-14 if you’re on the larger side). If you’re spending your whole trip in Langebaan, you may want to upsize 1m or bring a hydrofoil setup. Langebaan also gets very strong wind, but the funnel effect is just not quite the same. In the blissfully beautiful and warm waters of Shark Bay, the wind is typically even lighter.
We spend most of our time kiting in Blouberg, especially since Kite Beach is just down the road, so we’ll shift our focus down to the big air and big wave mecca of Blouberg!
The perfect quiver for Kite Beach, Blouberg… according to us!
If you can survive without spending every day on the water, a two-kite quiver is all you need. Crystal’s perfect two-kite quiver (approx 55kg rider) is a 6 and 8m kite, a twin tip and wave board. Luke’s (approx 75kg rider) is a 7 and 9m kite with a wave board; he’ll be riding waves if the power is just right or doing strapless big air and strapless freestyle if he’s overpowered. If things get really nuts, he’ll take my twin tip while I go hide in the van away from the sandblasting session on the beach! Most big air focused riders will use an 8m and 10m, and that is often all that is needed! One of our friends on the 90kg side usually rides a 10m and a twin tip, and sometimes a 12m, but almost never whips out the 14m! Who wants to pump up a 14m, anyway?!
If the wind starts blowing 10 knots in Blouberg, that’s already enough wind to get out on the water on a lighter wind setup. For Crystal, that’s an 8m and a wave board, and for Luke, that’s a 10m. As soon as it hits 16 knots, Crystal will either switch to a twin tip or downsize to a 6 or 7m kite. At 16 knots, Luke is usually riding an 8m, unless he wants some of that twin-tip action! Over 20 knots and Crystal will be on a 6m with a twin tip until it gets too windy to ride comfortably. Luke might downsize to a 7m, but otherwise, his setup stays the same, his riding just gets a little more extreme!
This may be an unpopular opinion, but big kites just don’t have a place in our quivers, unless we’re desperate to get on the water! Crystal will only ever use a 10m kite if it’s super light wind and she wants to get in a session before the crowds. The only time Luke ever uses a 12m kite is if he has to test a bigger kite due to his job! If the wind is that light and the sun is shining, and it’s not a work day (just in case our employers are reading this ?), we’re more than likely on our way to a wine farm or exploring away from the beach.
Our advice is to take advantage of those light wind days where you might consider riding a 12 or 14m and go exploring instead! South Africa is an incredible country, and there is so much to see within a 1-2 hour drive of Blouberg. It would be a shame to travel this far and not have experienced the famous Table Mountain hike, our beautiful wine farms, or gone on a journey down the Garden Route.
Last but not least…
Don’t forget your neoprene! The Atlantic Ocean can be a chilly creature, and a 4mm or 3mm wetsuit is recommended. If it’s a hot day and you plan to spend most of your time on or above the water rather than in it, you could get by with a shorty, if you dare! The Langebaan lagoons can be deceiving, and while it looks like a tropical paradise, most riders still wear a full suit at Langebaan’s main beach and a shorty in Shark Bay.
If you are trying to pack light, consider renting gear while you’re here; we can help arrange board and kite rental at The Point. If you’re loading up a 23kg board bag, bring 2 kites and 1 or 2 boards (a hydrofoil opens up a world of possibilities), and either some good walking shoes, a lekker party shirt, or a cute dress so you can “send it” off the water too! If you have some extra space or weight in your luggage allowance and want to make the most of every single puff of wind, bring 3 kites, so you can get on the water in any and all wind conditions!