Local Sedgefield restaurateur and kite surfer, Neels Swanepoel started kiting around 2006. “This was before we had any instructors in the Garden Route and it was a pretty perilous learning curve,” he explained.
A few friends gave Neels some pointers and hooked him into some of their oldest equipment. “The words ‘Safety’, ‘Depower’ and ‘Quick release’ did not yet exist anywhere in the kiting vocabulary at that time,” he said.
It took him three months of getting continuously bruised before he got the hang of Kite surfing. It soon became an obsession to Neels and by 2008 he realized that if people are shown how to kite surf it wouldn’t have to be a painful three months ordeal as it had been in his case.
“I already had Elemental Sport Shop that specialised in free-diving and spearfishing, so a kite shop and school was the obvious next step. People were now kiting after three days of training rather than the three months of pain,” he smiled.
Together with Craig Robinson who imports Ozone kites and in Neels’ words: “an all-round troublemaker”, PiliPili Xtreme Sport Centre relocated to the Myoli Beach front in 2009. “Here we have a beach bar and restaurant and facilitate the local and international kiting community. We further have a free shuttle service that delivers us and other kiters to Groenvlei beach in the Goukamma Nature reserve, from where we make our way down wind while wave riding and having a general j?l all the way to the home base at Myoli beach.”
During 2013 Craig and Neels opened a second PiliPili Xtreme Sport Centre in Witsand on the Breede River. “Witsand is a world class flat water kiting spot, so we moved the training facility there. We have our own harbour, boat and international instructors to take care of the growing number of kite enthusiasts in Witsand, and a bar and restaurant to replenish yourself after the day’s work,” explained Neels.
Below are the top 5 kite surfing spots in the Garden Route:
1. Witsand, Breederiver. This spot is rated as one of the top flat water spots in the world.
2. Myoli Beach, Sedgefield. Cross-shore winds and serious waves make this a world class spot for advanced riders.
3. Still bay. Lots of wind, but mostly on-shore conditions.
4. Lake Brenton, Knysna. Great flat water training area.
5. Buffalo Bay. On-shore wind, but fun kiting.
Tony Cook Adventures
While blustery days send most tame outdoor revellers indoors, for the growing number of adrenaline seekers, a strong wind means only one thing - Playtime! Kitesurfing has become hugely popular in South Africa and the sport has literally swept extreme sports junkies off their restless feet.
Our Greater Knysna coastline and inland lakes and estuaries present kitesurfers with the ultimate playground in which to hone their skill and fuel their addiction. All you need are the correct wind conditions, a large body of water and a heady need for speed. Kitesurfing test ones limits of performance, strength, endurance and nerve against these often unbridled forces of nature.
If you are keen to learn this adrenaline-fueled sport, contact Tony Cook Adventures, who runs Kitesurfing Africa, Knysna’s number one kite school. In the summer months, the Knysna lagoon is the ideal place for beginners and experts alike to kitesurf and the perfect shallow, flat water conditions make it an ideal venue for teaching.
For those with a lot of experience there are the wild waves to tackle at Sedgefield’s Myoli Beach, around 30 minute drive from Knysna. Here you get to kitesurf one of the top legendary wave riding spots in the area.
Kiteboards are also available for rent from PiliPili Extreme Sport Centre in Sedgefield, the renowned local kitesurfing operation whose kitesurf school is now based in Witsand.
Tony Cook Adventures is owned and run by the legend himself, Tony Cook. Knysna is a superb base for an awesome array of soft and hard adventures. Tony himself is a self proclaimed adventure addict. Tony Cook Adventures is owned and run by the legend himself, Tony Cook.