Thursday, 26 July 2012
Extreme Adventurers Embark on Kitesurfing Odyssey
Two South African extreme sports enthusiasts will attempt to battle
their way into the history books by kitesurfing a gruelling 430km route
down the East Coast of Africa in The Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition.
Hailed as one of the most ambitious kitesurfing expeditions ever planned
off the African coast, this epic voyage promises to be the ultimate
fight between man and the elements.
During this thrilling endurance test, Durbanites Zack Buchan (36) and
Ross Walters (35) will set out from Ponto do Ouro in Southern Mozambique
on Monday, 13 August weather permitting on an intense journey down
to Durban. The expedition has been timed to coincide with the
prevailing north-easterly winds along the Northern KwaZulu Natal
coastline at this time of year. However, an unexpected cold front
hitting the coast could pose serious challenges as driving
south-westerly head winds would severely hamper their efforts.
Although the straight-line distance is 430 kilometres, the team will end
up doing significantly more as kitesurfers will tend to zig-zag as they
move down the coast.
The intrepid pair is planning to kite for up to eight hours each day,
covering between 70 and 100 kilometres depending on weather conditions.
If the conditions are favourable and their equipment holds up, they can
potentially complete the journey in five days, but realistically it is
expected to take between eight and ten days. Your body really takes a
beating in kitesurfing so this journey will be about endurance and
pitting ourselves against the elements, stated Buchan at a training
session in Durban yesterday.
In addition to fitness training, rigorous preparation has been required
to ensure that the team is primed for all eventualities as the route
presents numerous trials for kitesurfers. As they plan to kite just
behind the backline for the majority of the journey, the most imminent
threat will be losing a board or crashing a kite in big surf whilst on a
rocky stretch of coastline.
Added to this, there is the prevalence of marine life. Whilst the warmer
waters off KwaZulu Natal are notorious for sharks, they will also have
to contend with crocodiles while around the St Lucia estuary.
With so much riding on equipment, both Buchan and Walters have sourced
the very latest in kitesurfing technology. To make the most of the
expected wind conditions, they will have their pick of three kites
ranging from eight to 12 metres. The optimal kite size is influenced by
wind conditions with the larger kites suited for lighter conditions
while the smaller kites are used in heavy winds.
The Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition will be using Ozone Reo kites and
Xelerator waveboards supplied by Kitesports. According to Sinesa Misic
of Kitesports, Ozone kites have only recently been introduced to the
South African market, while the surf-type boards are perfectly suited to
The Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition is an ideal opportunity to
showcase the performance capability of the Ozone Reo kites. The kites
have been constructed specifically for excellent wave riding, quick
handling and ease of relaunch, which means that they can seamlessly
adapt between rigorous trials such as this ultra-distance attempt and
leisure kiting, explains Misic.
Safety is also a priority and a support crew will be following the team
from the land with GPS trackers and will be able to communicate with
them via two-way marine radios. The kitesurfers will also be equipped
with electrical shark repellent units and they will each have an
emergency beacon which, once activated, transmits a mayday signal that
will mobilise the nearest search and rescue operations. In addition,
there will be an emergency evacuation helicopter on standby provided by
This journey has its dangers and if one of us is seriously injured,
just knowing that we have a direct line to Helivac and its helicopter
emergency evacuation will give us peace-of-mind, Buchan adds.
The sport of kitesurfing can trace its roots back to the 1800s, but it
was only the experiments of German and French inventors in the 1970s
and 1980s, with further developments in the nineties by the Roeselers
in the USA and the Legaignoux in France, that resulted in the birth of
modern kitesurfing. The sport has shown explosive growth since then
with an estimated 210 000 participants in 2006 to the current status quo
of kitesurfing edging out windsurfing as an Olympic discipline at the
2016 Rio Games.
Steph Bester, CEO of expedition sponsor The Unlimited, says this extreme
initiative dovetails with the companys ethos. This amazing attempt
is extreme enough for us to put our name to, we believe in doing the
extraordinary and these adventurers will achieve just that as The
Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition will push the limits of ordinary human
endurance, stated Bester.
Follow the amazing journey of The Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition with daily updates on www.theunlimited.co.za
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