So it's now been a full week that I've been in Cape Town and, in terms of the total time I've spent in Cape Town (including trips prior to this one), I've broken the back of six months. Yet again, it hasn't disappointed.
I'm lucky enough to work with, and be hosted by, people who are the real deal. Grant and Alex who run The Endless Summer Beach House and the Surf House are fine examples. 'Live life to the full and experience as much as you can' is the motto they apply to the atmospheres in their houses. There are only rare opportunities to experience all that this area has to offer when it's not windy, but if the Cape Doctor does ever switch off, this place is an adventurer's paradise. This awesome Dutch-SA combo duo have me lined up on shark dives, sky-dives, bungy jumps and road trips. So when the wind does stop, it's game on in a different way. Plus, any guys who can party as hard as Hadlow and Lenten and still keep the operation running like a finely oiled machine, must be doing something right.
Grant said to me the other day that one of the reasons Cape Town has such a aura about it is because of that huge energy source over-looking it – Table Mountain. It's immense and absolutely gorgeous. Occasionally I've forgotten it's there and looked over at it as I'm zoning out driving around the bay to another session and have got goose bumps down my arm.
KW staff photog and Red Bull's On The Loose camerman, William Milne, is over here too. He's recently turned into the south coast of England's answer to Laird Hamilton, in fact watching him ease his way majestically around the ocean on a paddle board, people have mistaken Mr. Milne for the big guy himself. We have had a few still mornings and with a building swell, he took me out for only my second SUP session ever the other day. It was incredible; not only did I catch a few, but we were joined by a pack of dolphins. Quite spectacular, once I'd convinced myself the fins did actually all belong to flipper and not jaws.
In my ongoing chore of experiencing as much as possible, all in the good name of journalistic integrity, I've moved out of the Endless Summer Guesthouse and into The Kite's Nest in Sunset Beach. Run by Brad Symington and his wife, Katie, it's a huge, open plan luxury bed and breakfast, literally yards from one of my favourite wave spots in the Cape Bay area. Brad is a local legend, was on our test team the last time we were in Cape Town, back in 2002, and was also a regular contributor to our world news section in the mag back in the day. Once again gracing the test team with his skills and wealth of experience, we've had some fantastic sessions, along with Pete Barker from Bracklesham Boardriders, who's also staying at The Kite's Nest. Along with a handful of other rippers, who I'll introduce to you as we go along, we're steadily ploughing through heaps of 2011 gear for review in the mag. Brad also runs www.downwindshuttle.com - a pick-up service to riders wanting to enjoy the incredible downwinders here, which has been incredibly handy for our wave tests. The few kilometres from Sunset Beach to Kite Beach/Doodles bar is insane for testing wave boards. Plus there's a bar right there for your sunset refreshment, still in your wetsuit.
Rob (who works with my on www.thekiteshow.tv) and Fiona Claisse from Progression have also just moved in and are busy shooting riders for some of their upcoming video projects. You see there really is some work going on out here, somehow!
Over the next few days I'm hooking up with Aaron, Ruben, Sebastien Cattelan and Jason Furness in my continuing quest to unveil some of the core stories from the roots of this sport over the last ten years for issue #50, coming up in March. All four have played a huge part in the sport's progress and got their professional paws tarred with the sticky sweet glue that has bonded so many like-minded individuals together over the years.
Cape Town is like a nucleus of all that is great and good about this sport, which is why you'll find so many people here every year.
You must come if you have the chance. If you don't have the chance, try to make it happen...
Remember these useful contacts:
Brad and Katie run The Kite's Nest B&B and kite school. Welcoming, comfortable and with a kitesurfing guru hosting you, you're not going to go far wrong. www.thekitesnest.com
Alex Vliege and Grant Brown run The Endless Summer Beach House as well as another place called The Surf House. www.endlesssummerbeachhouse.co.za
Acker Car Rentals specialise in 1980's Mercedes Benz cars. Like driving around in your lounge, these are very popular amongst kiters and windsurfers. In great condition, with well maintained engines, the boots are huge, meaning you can keep your kit safely locked away inside while you're on the water. Check my ride in the images opposite. She's a beaut and something I could probably never practically own back home. Just another part of this wonderful experience. www.ackercarrentals.co.za
Sheree Brown runs the website www.capetownguru.com – she's a go-to woman for virtually anything you might need, but mainly accommodation and activities. She knows everyone and everything about this place.
I'll be posting from Langebaan in a couple of weeks, a flat warmer water spot an hour north of Cape Town, staying at Friday Island. Looks pretty sweet! www.fridayisland.co.za
But for now, it's actually my birthday today. A cooked Kite's Nest breakfast by Christopher was the perfect start. The wind's already howling, so think I'll follow it with a little shooting with the crew while the light's good, a huge downwinder, double happy hour in my wetsuit at the other end at Doodles, a fat steak and then more beer. Happy Birthday me.