Robben Island Freedom Kitesurfing Mission

We recently discovered this epic video of a kitesurfing expedition to Robben Island by 4 adventurous South African kitesurfers.

Robben Island

The video gives us a unique perspective of the journey to the place Nelson Mandela once called home and which now stands as a testament to times gone by.

Here is a brief account of the action by Mieke and Bart Willems… To skip straight to the video, click here.

Tablecloth spread.  We approached the turquois expanse turned freezing by the daily South Easter.  Car shaking slightly, white caps visible – a welcoming site for 6 enthusiastic kiters.  At the beach, it was evident in the icy spray, sandblasting around the ankles and the tug on our hair – the Cape Doctor was spreading its summer afternoon kite surfer smiles.  The sky looked like an exploded rainbow of kites – like butterflies dancing in the wind.  Behind the temporary foreground bustle on the oceanic playground, understanding the moods of the Cape Doctor and withstanding the Cape of Storms weather, Robben Island was iconically waiting for us.  This was the day!

You can never set up quite quick enough…  Discuss the plan.  Partner up.  Clear up what would happen if the inevitable might happen.  All agreed.  Double-check the essentials.  Ready!?

Kitesurfing Expedition - Robben Island

View from Robben Island

Like a horse smelling water, the Jet ski and its amped crew encouraged us before we set off on the long awaited mission.

Trepidation in our take-off hoots. The usual playing through the waves had seriousness about it.  Quicker than you might think we were in unfamiliar territory halfway between Big Bay and Robben Island. The deep blue penetrated by bright sunbeams was magnificent.  Amazingly being pulled by a kite with the power of the wind, only skimming the surface – once again instilled childlike excitement.  Natural high in its purest distillate!

Penguins welcome us onto the white beach on Robben Island.  We share snacks, smiles, stories and a high 5 for our hero Nelson Mandela before the cold sets in and we head back to mainland Africa…

Successful mission all around.

If you are viewing this article in an email or RSS reader, click here to watch the video.

Technical details

Kitesurfers: Hennie van Zyl, James Taylor, Bart Willems and Mieke Willems

Jet Ski support: Oliza Boshoff, Tinus le Roux

Distance:  Big Bay to Robben Island approx. 7.5km (4.7 miles)

Time:  30min there, 30 min on island, 20min back.

Kites: All of us used 9mkites

Wind departing: 15 – 18 knots

Wind on return:  22 – 27 knots

Cameras: 3 GoPro HD cameras were used to get shots from all angles.

Video Editing: Bart Willems

Written by

Mieke Willems and Bart Willems

For information on projects Bart Willems supports, visit: Getting Rural Right 


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