For her first time ever, the queen of freestyle windsurfing took to the air to visit South Africa, just for the pleasure of travelling and windsurfing; no competition, no photo-shoots, just doing what she wanted, when she wanted. Obviously freestyle windsurfing was on the agenda, waves also, but does this mean she will be entering the PWA wave tour this year or is she staying true to freeestyle and slalom. Read on to find out about why Cape Town, what she got up to and if she is considering the wave tour...
At this point I couldn’t even imagine I was going to windsurf there. As I arrived in Cape Town I realized at once that this city was nothing like I imagined
When I decided I was going to take some time off from my studies to escape the winter my first choice was to go to Cape town. Travelling there had been on my to do list for a while. I was really excited to go because I’ve heard so many good stories about this amazing place. The moment I got on the plane though I was slightly nervous because I was travelling to a completely unknown place for me. I flew during the night but as we arrived at Jo’burg and then Cape Town I noticed the scenery and was fully in awe of the fact that I had actually flown to the motherland. It’s just that I’ve read and heard so much about Africa.. the poverty and the bad things but then also how much history comes from there and the beauty of the country. At this point I couldn’t even imagine I was going to windsurf there. As I arrived in Cape Town I realized at once that this city was nothing like I imagined. Of course I didn’t expect people to be living in huts or anything like that. But I was quiet surprised by how modern everything was and it seemed as if I was in the States or Europe in the summer.
I was going to be there for 5 weeks and my goal was to improve in wavesailing. More specifically, my mission was to get over my fear of jumping so I could start practicing backies and pushies. I thought 5 weeks was too long but realised really soon that the next time I would have to go at least double the time I was there. There was so much to do and to see!
In your bags
Travelling to Cape Town I made sure to have everything with me. I was told before hand that you really should expect all types of conditions here.
Also I didn’t want to destroy my freestyle sails in the waves so I had 7 wave and freestyle sails with me. 3.6, 4.2, 4.7 for waves and 4.0, 4.4, 4.8, 5.2 for freestyle. Plus 4 masts, 2 booms and 2 boards. 73 NuEvo and my 91L Flare.
I ended up using my 4.2 the most and my 4.4. But this is because I’m often not bothered to change down when I get overpowered. So I’ve sailed completely over powered with my 4.2 on 3.6 days. As well as going freestyling on the lake with my 4.4. At a certain point it was obviously to windy but I was just too stubborn to change down. So I ended up either crashing my ducks or getting crazy lifts. It’s those lifts I do it for in the end. Also I was told to bring my thickest wetsuits with me so I brought along two 5.4mm suits I was quite sceptical about the thick suits but turns out I really did need them. Maybe next time I’ll bring a thinner one with me but overall I was happy to be nice and warm.
Cape Town Crib
I’ve had such nice sessions during sunset right in front of our house. Sailing with seals, dolphins and hoping not to see sharks.
I Stayed in an apartment in Milnerton at lagoon beach. I didn’t really know how it all worked there but I found a place to stay with Tilo Eber, Julien Robinet and mostly Germans. It was a really nice place to stay at. Most of the surfers lived closer to the surfspots at Big Bay or in Table View. Whereas we were right at the water and closer to town. The wind always picks up in Milnerton first and then picks up gradually along the coastline. This way I’d be able to go and practice in my backyard in the morning. Or if it hadn’t been windy all day and it would pick up anyway than Milnerton was the place to be to squeeze in that last session before the day ended. I’ve had such nice sessions during sunset right in front of our house. From flatwater, to Fuerteventura like conditions to proper head high waves. Sailing with seals, dolphins and hoping not to see sharks.
Hitting the water
In the 5 weeks that I was there I must say that I had the best sailing the first 2 weeks I was there. After Christmas/New Years the wind kind of went a bit funny, the conditions were unusual as the locals said.
The best wave sailing I had for my whole stay there was in the first week there when we went to Cape Point at 6am. Of course I’m mostly used to flat water so waves do scare me at first. I would like to point out that I was more worried about avoiding baboons when I got there. After 20 minutes on the water and after a few hyperventilations. I got more confident and shortly after I really started bottom turning and going for the lip which was way more fun than chickening out every time. I was fully powered on 4.2 and the waves were 2-3 meters I would say.There were only three of us out, the water was sky blue and all in all it was a dream to sail there!
Before that I’ve been to mostly Melkbos which is nice to start practising your jumping. The days I was there, the wind was nuking and I sailed fully overpowered on 4.2. so that did make it quite hard to get into jumps ;-)
I sailed at sunset as well.. but on big days it closes out really quick so then spots like Melkbos and Haagkat work way better. I didn’t go out at Haagkat because I wasn’t really comfortable in the waves yet.
After 2 weeks the waves and the wind died down a bit and I sailed mostly at Big Bay which personally I thought was one of the most fun spots. It was quite easy to sail and good to practice jumps. It was quite exciting on big days because there were absolute bombs coming in every once in a while. Sailing there until after sunset was magical. Besides that it’s nice because most sailors meet up there. Yes it’s crowded and I did almost get run over a few times but I enjoyed sailing there. Also because on the smaller days it would be a freestyling playground. When guys like Steven, Balz, Max Rowe, Max Matissek would go out everybody would be watching
So after the first few weeks the wind died down a bit so I went freestyling more often. I had some epic sessions at this lake called Rietvlei on 4.4. it’s fresh water and you don’t have to wear a wetsuit there. What a relief! The lake is quite big so the chop changes a lot giving you the opportunity to practice loads of different moves.
Also I went to Langebaan twice which is a 1,5 hour drive up North. I had bad luck both times going there. The first time something exploded in my car leaving me stranded on the side of the road. Luckily Tilo and friends were near and could pick us up. This was actually a sweet session! Where I started out on 4.8 but then moved down to 4.4. It was flat water on the inside and as you went out the wind got stronger and chop steeper and bigger.
The second time I went there it was a last minute decision and by the time we made it there. The wind died completely after just making one run out! Bummer.
Soo not sure if I want to be going to Langebaan next time I go there.. haha.
Training for PWA Waves?
I wanted to go to South Africa to especially train in the waves. I’ve been wanting to improve in this discipline for a while. Windsurfing has so much to offer and wave sailing is just another great fun and challenging side of it. And as you learn more it gets more and more fun. I tend to jump on my freestyle board any chance I get but if I would go to a real wave place and surround myself with wave sailors than I would practically be forced to get my wave kit out and train. In the end it’s just so much fun and you get hooked to it really quick. Five weeks was really only a crash course into it and I’m sure I’ll probably need five years to understand waves properly but yes hopefully I can go and compete soon just so I can improve even quicker.
On the 18th of January they organised the Robben Island Dash we would make a crossing to Robben Island and come back. This would be about 10-12km.
It was the end of my trip and I hadn’t been able to get around doing the #1 thing on my to do list, visit Robben Island. So this would be the coolest way to make that happen anyway! I managed to get some slalom kit together thanks to Mitch Wagner and his dad from Baysports. Lena Erdil was also the only girl there so we motivated each other to compete as well. The weather had been quite strange those days so also that day we ended up waiting until about 4 o’clock before we would all make the dash for Robben Island. I was quite excited as I ran towards the water and got on my board. I made through the shore break but afterwards was overpowered and out of control on my 7.0 I ended up catapulting 4 times.
It was really hard to go full speed but still control everything while on open water.
Then all of a sudden in front of me I see loads of sailors standing still. I thought if I would just pump I would make it.. but apparently there was a clear wind line. And about ¾ of the way we all dropped in the water as there wasn’t a single breath of air outside the wind line. I stopped near Lena and held on to her and another guy for dear life.
Of course it wasn’t as dramatic as it was in my imagination (Jaws them tune playing in my head... and seeing fins which just happened to be chop) and the view on Table Mountain, Big Bay and Robben Island was quite nice from there. But I was relieved when they picked us up after a 20-30 minute wait in the water. In the end we all made it back to shore safely and had another adventure under our belt.
The social life
As I mentioned before.. this city has so much to offer.
Anywhere you go, Table Mountain is always present and the different views on the mountain will amaze you! The landscape changes every 20-30 minutes you’re driving and will make you think you’re in a different country every time.
I think I arrived there quite early as most of the sailors only came in after New Years. But seriously.. everybody from the PWA was there or either on their way there.. too many to mention: Max Rowe, Bubble, Sims, Max Matissek, Marco Lufen, Balz Müller, Maarten Van Ochten, Steven Van Broeckhoven, Tilo Eber, Andrea Rosati, Alberto Menegatti, Alice Arutkin, Jules Denel, Phil Horrocks, Graham Ezzy, Jamie Drummond, Jamie Hancock, Lena Erdil, Amanda Beenen etc. etc. etc. And even more non PWA sailors. One happy community!
I don’t have the ability to windsurf all day everyday… I need to do other things to stay motivated. and in a place like that I really love getting out and visiting. I would often just get in the car and just drive around or wander around in town.
Some of the real highlights for me were the company gardens and walking up Kloofstreet and Long Street, Obs was also a really nice district.
Hiking is also a definite must do. For Christmas a lot of the sailors got together and we hiked up Lion’s head. It was an amazing view to see the city below you and after the sun went down the sky burst into purple and pink colours.
The second hike was up Table Mountain. No not the short route. The long one. 3,5 hours. I will say straight away that it was totally worth it but I definitely need to do something about my hiking skills. A few times I just wanted to lay down.. and stay there. It was really tough!
Lastly, wine tasting is a must and driving to Simon’s town via Muizenberg and Kalkbay is also a must! So many things to mention..
I’m definitely looking into going back to Cape Town. It’s the first time I travelled somewhere and I can say that I fell in love with the city. Besides windsurfing this city has so much to offer and the scenery is amazing. You could easily spend months there and not get bored. Whether you’re a nature lover and prefer peace and quiet or you love being out and about in town.
Next time I’m there I will look into sailing more at spots in the south like Scarborough and Cape Point. For me it was actually nice to live close to town and hang around there more instead of being near the windsurfing spots constantly. It’s nice to get out and see different things and people.
I think I did have a lot of equipment with me but I really ended up using everything. If your only taking your wave equipment than the amount would be okay, but I was happy to have my freestyle kit on the windless days. So the best thing would just to look for an airline that allows all of this equipment (Turkish airlines!!).