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Went to Big Bay to see what all the fuss is about kitesurfing… And here are the pics

For an investment of approximately R20,000 you apparently get to experience the feeling of weightlessness as you get swept up by the wind.  All this action happens on the other side of the bay, a whole 180 degrees from where I stay in Greenpoint and where the wind is considerably stronger than it is on the Atlantic Seaboard side.

I got a call from my friend Carl just before one of our lectures and he said, “The wind is too good not to go, so come with” and after deliberating for about 2 seconds I thought, why not?  As I neared Big Bay, I could suddenly see all the kites floating in the sky, dotting it with different shapes, sizes and colours.  Although it was a weekday afternoon, there were more than 15 or 20 of them flying at every bay I drove past.  I got a call from him again to make sure I was going the right way and directing me by saying “past the big lake and follow the kites” and that he will be waiting on the north side of the bay.  Finally I got there, found his white kite with the yellow trim amongst all the others with the view of Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town in the background.  It truly was a Canon moment.

As I looked on, I could see why he was so passionate about his sport.  One minute he was on the waves and the next in the air doing flips or making big jumps.  After the session we decided to go have a drink at Cafe Sofia.  Of course he needed to have a cold one whereas I needed to warm myself from the biting wind with a hot cup of coffee.  I could tell he loved what he did.  His eyes lit up as he told me that some days he would see Sun Fish by the rocks, floating by with their abnormally small fins.  His best feeling was when he’d be up in the air and looking down, he can see the waves roll by and it’s just him out there in the open air, the silence apart from the sound of the kite flapping against the wind above and the feeling of absolute bliss.  Sometimes he’d see seals (which he is not a big fan of because apparently one of them bit a kitesurfer once), and sometimes he’d see his own shadow and get a fright thinking it was something else.  On the odd occasion he’d see whales and for most of the time he’d run into some penguins on the rocks.

He taught me about the different types of kites there were.  The C-shaped ones are apparently the most dangerous as they pick up a lot of wind and can take you far out and very high up.  These were the predecessors to the newer ones with less of a curve.  Just as in any sport, the size of the kite is dependent on your weight, height and also the strength of the wind.  He told me he had to change the size on the day we went because the wind was too strong and so he took one that was 2 sizes smaller than the one he usually used.

I was unaware of the popularity of this sport until I saw it for myself.  I had also never really had any inclination to venture out to the north, that is Table View and Big Bay side.  Cape Town for me was just the city bowl since everything as far as I knew needed to happen happened there.  But going out just 20 minutes to the other side of the bay showed me what the other men did.  They kitesurfed.  Most men from the city bowl chase the money.  The men here go to the beach to chase the wind.

Carl’s next mission is to kitesurf from Big Bay to Langebaan, a couple of hours drive by car and an approximate 5 hour journey by kite.  So next time I’m out on my run back on my side of the city overlooking Table Bay, I’ll know that there are those men out there who are chasing the wind.  And somewhere amongst them is my friend, quite possibly waving goodbye to the penguins as he catches the wind north towards Langebaan.