The Scene

Langebaan was once a sleepy fishing village resting in a protected part of the extensive Langebaan Lagoon on the West Coast of South Africa. This is a part of our coastline that has a distinct Mediterranean feel.

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Fynbos creeps towards the water and cottages along the beach cling to their old-world charm, family treasures – handed down from one generation to the next.

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The once quiet village has now grown into a popular holiday location for Capetonians  and the traditional ‘fishing village’ part of town has been contained behind quaint shale walls which in return are surrounded by holiday mansions and golf developments. Langebaan also has wind and has become a destination for international travelers to South Africa in search of kitesurfing skills – drawn to the weather conditions, gorgeous landscape and our ever weakening currency.

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While no longer a village, Langebaan still alludes to a quiet demeanor when the weather is calm…. but when the wind blows, the tempo rises a notch or two…

IMG_3512and the kite surfers come out to play.

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This happens pretty much every day…during the windy season.

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To catch Shark Bay looking like this you need to hit it early because by 15 knots around Noon this kite crèche is filled with white horses and beginners.

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But even Shark Bay at its busiest cannot compare to ‘The Scene’ going on at Main Beach!IMG_3425

With the wind come the vehicles loaded with students and gear from every kitesurfing school in the area, and with the students come the instructors with their foreign accents and mouth pieces. They strut militantly along the waters edge, in a stressful fashion yelling instructions to their students,

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who try desperately to listen, remain untangled and out of the rip, while fighting ‘the fear’. In addition there is the added accessory of the ‘dedicated boat guy’ ready and waiting to come to your rescue – for a fee of course which is definitely not calculated in South African Rands… IMG_3442

And all of this is on a quiet day. Over one hundred kites are said to be in the air at any given moment over season’s peak.

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And when you are done for the day you simply retire to one of the restaurants that line the shore, or better yet, settle in at a trendy singles-style Flash Packer Venue and hang around the pool with gorgeous internationals lounging on colourful, giant bean bags in tiny swim wear..Langebaan is an experience worth checking out…

But while That Scene continues,

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we head on home to Our Scene, along a wilder part of the coast line,

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where you find cows on the beach instead of fancy vehicles and smart restaurants.

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And there is no boat rescue crew in sight.

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Where the Papa is the instructor, and the lagoon small, but uncrowded,

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and the mood…….well it’s simply chillaxed.

Celebrating Sleepy Chintsa, its Uncrowded Scene and kite lessons for the girls. Late 2014 / Early 2015

 

Gift

A surprising gust of winter wind had me hauling the kites onto the beach in late June. It had been a while. The summer east winds transform into calming westerlies over the winter months, soothing the sea – great for surfing but useless for kiteboarding. Gear, usually dumped by the door ready to be grabbed at pace gets folded and packed away for a while.

Having not flown for sometime, these surprise re-entries into the sport can be a tad disconcerting and I have to remind myself what to do….I find that the rituals of the set up process help me manage my adrenalin. I don’t like to rush – launching a 9 square power kite in 20 knots of wind, only to find that your safety line isn’t connected can distract from the fun.

My hardcore wingmen find my pace a bit tiresome at times, but they cope;) Being the only girl on the water seems to have created an obligation on their part to ‘keep an eye’, further entrenched by their ongoing need to have rescued either myself or my gear at times during various learning curves. I guess letting me drown just wouldn’t do really… bless them.

A winter kiting session wakes up your stomach muscles. For days after I cringe in pain every time I get a ‘mommy hug’ around the middle.  All worth it.

Wind was never my favourite thing. I have enough noise in my head without the additional distraction. But over the last few years my view has changed….An afternoon of 16-25 knots of steady east is fantastic and because we are not endowed with the regularity of the monsoons, when it does blow all else is put aside because there is no guarantee when it will blow again, no matter what Windguru.com promises…. Kiters completely get this.

Eric taught me to fly. He has given me some cool gifts in our time, but this one is ‘The Bomb’. Hours and hours of commitment and sacrifice. It takes a strong man to drag his wife around by the scruff of her harness along a lagoon bank, tolerating her stream of fear-induced verbal abuse for an extensive period of time while his buds are in the ocean kiting giants along the backline….but them he is one of the best.

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I am by no means a good kiter but am gradually becoming more competent, braving the water, even when Eric is away- although I do get major support from my backup wing-man also known as ‘High’ 😉 which I do appreciate!

Nowadays when I crash the kite and get dragged back to shore by size swell, gasping for air each time I get hammered by another set pushing me through the impact zone, Eric stands on the beach with his hands in the air and a ‘what are you doing ???’ look on his face – as opposed to rushing into the water to rescue me like before – I have chosen to understand this as progress…I think?!

I am deeply grateful to Eric for taking the time and having the patience to teach me. It has enriched my 40’s immensely in many ways – but it is a shared gift.

He no longer has a wife, waiting at home, frustrated at his long kiting absences, and what to get me for my next birthday? Seriously – no issues there either….

Thanks Baby!

Celebrating Winter Kiting Sessions and Special Gifts – Chintsa June 2013

“Up In The Sky”

Eric started flying shortly after I fell pregnant with Sarah. Seven months on, I felt the pull of a power-kite for the first time and went bouncing along the beach on my belly…luckily we all came out of it intact. Not one of my smarter moves, but then hopefully one learns from the knocks….

Our baba arrived safe and sound and from very little, spent time wrapped in my arms, sheltered in alcoves along the beach, watching Papa learn to jump. He became quite good and jumped extremely high.

One of her first sentences was, ‘Papa, up in the sky!’  repeated each morning at first glimpse of the ocean.

Now Sarah is tall and strong,

and beginning to give kiting a whirl herself.

And I suspect it won’t be long till she,

like her Papa is also spending time ‘up in the sky!’

Kiting with Sarah and Leah – Chintsa Beach, September 2012