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South Africa is one of the places most responsible for the development and growth of modern surfski paddling. Like other countries with amazing ocean access, there has long been an ocean sport culture in South Africa where kids grow up participating in Life Saving programs and rescue skill related competitions. This culture has spawned famous surfski racers and shows every sign of continuing to foster new generations of skilled and fierce competitors.
Photo: Sharon Armstrong video - Wild Downwind Durban
Please visit and absorb the lessons contained in the surfski.info safety reports posted by experienced South African paddler, Rob Mousley.
There are many extreme conditions that regularly occur in the ocean waters along South Africa's coastline. Most experienced local paddlers are familiar with the hazards in their back yard. But some risks can be deceptive, not visually apparent, and not always easy to anticipate or adequately gauge even for knowledgeable paddlers. One example is described by Rob (surfski.info post) in discussing the possible causes of a 2021 fatality in the waters off of Cape Town:
“The southeaster blows directly offshore on the Atlantic coastline, and it can appear deceptively calm in the lee of the shore, close to the rocks. But a few hundred meters out to sea, the wind, accelerating down the mountainside, can be lashing the water with squalls of 50kt or more. And of course, those howling squalls can arrive without warning, as the southeaster grows in strength.
So, it’s possible for a paddler to feel safe in the sheltered water close to the rocks, but in extreme danger from the maelstrom of wind and spray, just a few hundred meters offshore.
Adding to the risk is the water temperature. Strong southeasters cause upwellings of cold water: as the warmer surface layer is blown offshore, it’s replaced by frigid water flowing up from the deep.”
Rob's discussion in the above post goes on to remind readers about critically important communication equipment that can make a difference when paddlers are caught in conditions beyond their ability to paddle out of.
TCSurfski Podcast - Oscar Chalupsky does a guide of South Africa Downwind Runs
(Coastline East to West)
Robin Mousley on Durban vs. Cape Town: “This kind of paddling (Durban downwinding) has a different flavour to the downwinds that we do over here in Cape Town. The runs tend to be bigger and longer and fast and the water's much warmer than ours. We tend to be nervous of the surf when we go to Durban; when they come here they always exclaim how cold the water is!”
Local Safety Concerns
Noordhoek to Bushy Park Downwinder
Cape Hangklip - Fish Hoek
Dawid & Jasper Mocke describe Miller's Run
“You're off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters.” ― Hector Barbossa
check surfski.info article the wrong wind can make this a real no go. After Miller's Point, “Hurricane Alley”…
Miller's Run Sight - photo D. Mocke video