Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Last week I participated in a downwinder with Brad Symmingtons Downwind Shuttle. His business makes downwinders easy. In a nutshell they pick you up and take you to your upwind spot and you either ride back to your home beach or you ride as far as you like and he picks you up at your downwind point and takes you home in his comfortable Mercedes Vito.

This particular downwinder was for a new section to be run in Kiteworld Magazine where they hope to run a feature on a downwinder from somewhere around the world in every issue starting with here. I was lucky enough to be asked to take part in this one. This particular downwinder made an interesting ride as we had to start at Sunset Beach and make our way stopping to ride at each beach allowing the photographer to take pictures. There was very little wind earlier in the morning so I took my 8m, but after all the tinkering and faffing around that generally takes place when someone is trying to organise something with a number of people, the wind was howling in time for launch. On my 8m I was fully stacked, so took my twin tip and 2 ½ hours later as we were pulling into the half way point someone made the thankful decision to stop for the day and continue the rest of the way another day.

Well that ‘other’ day was today. This time we started around mid morning when the wind is generally less strong, but today it was still for my 6m Torch 4. I made the brave (in my opinion) decision to take my strapless 5’5” surfboard.

Strapless surfboard.

Now this is a new phenomenon to me. I’ve been persistent in trying to ride it for the passed year, but it just winds me right up. I find it so much less manoeuvrable then my twin tip and when it comes to riding in big swell I find I spend most of my time swimming like nemo downwind of where I really want to be as opposed to on my twin tip nipping in and out of sections that I should and probably shouldn’t be!

Well on arrival in Capetown I got bored putting my board together halfway through and left it with only the fins in for another day. However after a particularly heavy night in the pub someone had the great idea of doing another downwinder (this one being between the first and second downwinder for kiteworld). The wind was light and probably still half cut my mind was not perhaps in the place it should have been… or so I thought and I decided doing it strapless made total sense and after all how hard can it be!!?? Well in minimal swell I found it way easier to ride, far more entertaining trying to make it out over waves and way easier for gybing. I found myself in my own little zone getting to grips with it and am now hyped for more downwinders in this style hence the choice to take it strapless for todays mission.

Back to the original downwinder

Well mission springs to mind! The waves at the beginning of the ride were nothing to really think about, but as we made our way downwind the wind began to increase as did the swell. I managed to keep my board on my feet around 75% of the time, but the odd gust as a wave approached me sometimes saw me leave the water by a couple of feet while my surfboard happily stayed in the water or merrily made its way back to shore in amongst the white water. Out back while trying to make my way upwind to position myself better for the photographer was interesting while concentrating on keeping the board under my feet especially when I definitely saw a dark shadow pass beneath me. I always imagine dark shadows, but know that it is nothing, but this was a real one. I didn’t stop to find out what it was and I pleaded to the wind, my board and my body to keep enough coordination to gybe and get back to shore. I’ve got to be honest the whole downwinder was great fun, but the second half was certainly testing for my skills and my nerves. Lets pray for less then 30 knots of wind sometime in the very near future!!! Crazy capetown!!!

Until later

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