We sat down with our Stoke Coach, Ben Strowger, to get a recap of all of the action from his recent reconnaissance trip to South Africa, including attendance at the infamous 2019 Red Bull King of the Air.
Who were your picks for taking out the 2019 King of the Air?
I thought that it would be a mix between Kevin Langeree, Aaron Hadlow and Jesse Richman. It was a close prediction, with Kevin Langeree and Jesse Richman taking the first and second titles respectively.
2019 Red Bull King of the Air | Final
1. Kevin Langeree (NED) 27.60
2. Jesse Richman (HAW) 26.50
3. Liam Whaley (ESP) 24.86
See the highlights here… KOTA Finals recap
How was your first experience attending the event?
It was absolutely incredible to watch! There was some explosive, extreme, next level energy at the event. The atmosphere was awesome; there were thousands of people on the beach right up against the water, with guys doing tricks right in front of your face. Everyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing and cheering at the action. It was a super massive event, really great, and I recommend that everyone attend!
What were your favourite kiting spots in South Africa?
There were so many! The best were the spots that our local Johnny Fassler took us to, off the beaten track. Some of these spots were in private areas that we needed special access to get to. Kite boarding in South Africa is very popular, which means that the main beaches (even though they are great) are very busy. It was really special to get to all these unique spots with the insider knowledge of a local.
If I had to choose one spot as my favourite, I would probably choose Witsand. It is an incredibly beautiful flat water spot. To get to the access point, you have to traverse down a cliff face and trek through a mangrove forest, and then you come out into this epic, huge sandbar with butter-flat water and honking wind. The water isn’t only flat, it is also very deep, which is perfect for safe boosting.
How are the conditions in South Africa?
During the day it felt like a dry heat, consistently 30 degrees and above. The water however is freezing! You need a 2/3 wetsuit, especially on the West Coast. Every day was sunny and windy; the wind comes from all different directions, that is why it is so good to have all these different spots.
The wind strength fluctuated. The best days on the West Coast were in the mid 20s to early 30 knots. Some days were in the high teens. I only had to use my big kite two times, otherwise I was on my 9 metre most of the time.
What is the best time of the year to ride?
The best time of the year to ride is right in the middle of summer. It is windy all summer long, and particularly consistent between January and February – similar to Australia.
What size kites would you suggest people pack?
I would suggest an 80kg person probably bring a 12, 10 and 8 metre kite. That would be a good spread.
What other perks can you tell us about this world class kiting location?
There is so much to do, the list is endless in and around the Cape Town area! There are wineries and an amazing backdrop of hiking and scenery to explore with a very diverse cultural mix. As you travel around, you get a real sense of people and the varied lifestyles and communities in which they live. The history is rich and interesting, and there are a multitude of museums and historical locations to explore in the down time from kiting.
Also, you can eat really great food at an affordable price! The holiday spot offers great value for money.
Can you give us an inside scoop of the tour Zephyr is planning to South Africa tour in 2020?
We are looking at running the date for 11 or 12 days in the last week of January, to coincide with the 2020 Red Bull King of the Air competition. The competition runs for 16 days (one weekend to the end of the following weekend), which serves as a waiting period to ensure the conditions are right. We plan to set the tour right in the middle of the event so that our guests can hopefully see the whole event, but definitely see at least part of it. Guests can then also have the option to come out earlier and stay longer to cover the duration of the event.
The tour will be all-inclusive; all breakfast, lunches and a lot of dinners, transport, accommodation – everything taken care of. It will be a pretty lush tour! Oh and the accommodation is amazing.
We would take our guests to all of the secret, insider-knowledge spots, as the point of the tour is to explore all of the options that South Africa has to offer. We will take guests to places that they would never otherwise go to, or know about, if they were to travel to South Africa by themselves.
The Stoke Coach Ben Strowger, is a team rider for Duotone/North Kiteboarding & Zephyr Tours and manager and head coach for Ocean Addicts.