EXTRACT FROM KITEWORLD
SURELY THE RECORD WILL GO AT THE END OF JANUARY!
Considering the amount of local and visiting kitesurfers floating around the Cape Town area in January / February, the first Virgin Kitesurfing Armada event held there could blow the record books up! The current record was set by the Armada Team in Tarifa, Spain in 2014 with 352 participants. Ahead of the fully charitable event that will see hundreds of kiteboarders participating in a one mile downwinder along the famous Cape Town Kite Beach between 29th – 31st January, we speak to a leading sponsor and locally based kiteboarding manufacturer, Cobus Van Zyl of Vanhunks, to find out more about what the event means to him and his community.
INTERVIEW: JIM GAUNT
“Our whole philosophy has always been to get people on the water, plus the event is in our backyard, so we simply had to get involved. Kite Beach is a fantastic spot to kite and hundreds of people flock ride here every day. The King of the Air happens around the same time and sheds a lot of light on Cape Town, but it’s very serious. I think the Armada will bring the fun factor back as anyone can do it. There’s no big minimum wind speed needed like the King of the Air and a good day, on Kite Beach alone, we see 300 to 400 guys out, so it should be spectacular.
I met the Armada Events organiser Dan Charlish here last year when he came to speak at the Fouders Kite Club to raise awareness and support for an event, and I’ve followed all the previous events with interest. Obviously Sir Richard’s involvement raises the profile of the whole thing, too! So after discussions with Dan and subsequent meetings with a local entrepreneur and kitesurfer, Andre de Wet, who has helped gel things together, we now have the Armada coming here to Cape Town, and it’s fantastic.
The Armada Trust charities will benefit as usual, but the chosen local charity is the SAVE Foundation which targets local kids and helps them with activities like learning to swim and to surf. What’s so exciting about working with the SAVE Foundation and having SAKA (South African Kitesurfing Association) involved is that we can aim to train some local people that otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to kitesurfing. If you travel to Mozambique for example, there are many less privileged people from low income groups who help on the beaches. They launch and rig the kites, they understand kiting and that’s what we need more of, so we can then start to hopefully train some of them up on the water. In the short term it’s about giving them experiences themselves in how to swim and how to surf, but the long term goal is to actually teach those guys how to rig kites and eventually become kiteboarders, not just helpers. Perhaps there’s job creation, perhaps there’s some other opportunities for them. Obviously we’re hoping to help lots of people, but even if we successfully only manage to get one person to become an IKO instructor, at least the event will have helped to change their life.
We have a very active local kitesurfing community. Although there’s not as much happening from a wind perspective in winter, we all kite when we can during that time as it’s much quieter and we can all have fun together. In the summer during peak season, we’re all so busy. SAKA have really come together this year, they’re very active, the beaches are all safe and well managed and things are going well here. Everyone will really enjoy the event I think as it will be a good celebration of kiting here.”
FOUNDERS KITE CLUB
Andre de Wet is a member of the Founders Kite Club who have supported VKSA events and who have been pivotal in bringing the right people together to make this event happen. Andre has got WeChat involved, the biggest chat platform in China, now growing rapidly around the world, which is making signing up for the event even easier. Here’s more info from him:
“I first met Dan Charlish through the Founders Kite Club in Montenegro in 2014 where he told me all about the charity events. Cape Town is the ideal spot for an event like this as it’s one of the best kiteboarding spots in the world. To try to switch all these riders into a Guinness World Record event and raise funds for charity, both here and in the UK, is what it’s all about.
WeChat is great because it allows us to create a hub for the event, so we have an official Virgin Kitesurfing Armada account on there, so you can follow it, international riders can enter through there on their mobile, and locals can use it to make payments for their entry and other bits.”
Register through the WeChat app, scan the QR code on the poster, everything will link up and you can get registered.
The official Armada website for the South African event is:
Find Cobus and Vanhunks at:
The Kiteworld team will be at the event, so we’ll see you there, or you can keep up with the event through: