I’m seriously stoked on how my 2016 shaped up, and if the first few adventures of 2017 are a sign of things to come, it will be another epic year…less the car accident I’ll probably get into! This driving on the left and sitting on the right thing here in Cape Town is from another planet!
Sponsors were already bored with me summarizing my 2016 results, coverage, etc. – so I wont let you suffer through it too. I’ll slip in that I wrapped up a great year with a memorable fall season in Brazil, family time near Toronto, Canada for Christmas, and then ringing in the new year drinking Revelstoke’s famous champagne powder snow in British Columbia. It feels like I’m living a dream!
Then came the dreaded itinerary to South Africa. To make it complicated, I packed a lot: 4 boards, 7 rigs and all associated accessories; easily over 100kg of luggage. The first flight was a 50 seat regional jet from Toronto to New York – my triple board bags probably wouldn’t fit through it’s cargo door! Then came a 12 hour flight to Doha, Qatar, followed by another 10 hour flight (I thought it was a small world?) to finally arrive in Cape Town, South Africa.
It was the night before my flight, the check-in on my mind, even Toronto airport luggage handlers had a hunch something was coming. My Cape Town housemate Steven Van Broeckhoven calls me :“Phil, I have a great idea! Pack your mountain bike, there is great riding in South Africa!”. I almost lost it: “Are you kidding me?!?!? I don’t think they will fit my board bags on the plane, I’m lucky if they let me check-in!”. Packing my bike was out of the question.
Luckily I did manage to check-in, which any traveling windsurfer knows is a feat in itself. I paid $300 for all my luggage, it was reasonable, and I was relieved when I was handed my receipt showing the airline was committed to delivering my bags to Cape Town. Shortly after there was a minor issue that my boards didn’t fit on the regional jet, but I wasn’t concerned if my boards took some other even longer route to South Africa. I slept on my 2 ridiculously long overnight flights with a relaxed mind and stiff neck.
Cape Town is my choice this winter because it often has good jumping conditions with wind from the “wrong” direction. I’m much weaker jumping with my left hand forward – port tack – and want to improve. However, I forgot that I’m even weaker at driving on the left side of the road, which is necessary to get to the beaches here.
Upon arrival I picked up my rental car which resembles a mini cooler box on wheels – it was convenient I didn’t have my 4 boards with me yet. Repetitively chanting “keep left, keep left, keep left” I made my way to the beaches.
I’m sharing the ride with Belgian Yentel Caers. We manage to fit all our sails/masts/booms inside, 2 boards on the roof, and if Yentel’s lucky he can squeeze himself in behind the passenger seat, which I sit in while driving 😉
After such a long journey around the big world, my first experiences on the water was to realize the windsurfing world is tiny! I drove to Melkbos Beach with a few friends to go for a session, there was a big swell, it looked a bit sketchy, and there was only 1 windsurfer on the water. Only this English guy Andy and I rigged up our 4.0’s and went out. It was a relief to finally make it out past the breaking sets where I saw the only other sailor out. As our paths crossed, and eyes met, I realized it was Ryan! You know, Canadian Ryan from Vancouver, the one I windsurf with on the Oregon Coast every summer – about 16653km away from where we saw each other last. Crazy.
I sailed quite a few spots already in the area here, but more about those spots in future posts when I get some pictures or video clips together. Check in soon, and in the meantime, keep left!