Wow, what a week I barely know where to start! First clinic of the year really putting us on the right foot for the rest of 2019.
It is the second year that myself and Mr Ben Proffitt of Windsuring.TV have teamed up to bring you these clinics. Last year we had a great time out here and also learnt some things; namely, how we promoted the clinic. We sold it as a jumping clinic but in actual fact we ended up with lots of wave riding conditions and all round enjoyment and improvement from the guests. This year we billed the course as a clinic for experienced wave sailors looking to push the limit jumping; forwards, backloops, pushlooops and wave riding; proper gouging bottom turns to big top turns, rail to rail, massive smacks and aerials.
The new format really worked, we maxed out this week with 10 awesome sailors. The sailing here is pretty extreme and we often travel to different spots so we keep the numbers low to help with organization and increase individual focus.
The course here in Cape Town is quite different to most of our other clinics, where we are based a center and sailing the same spot or very close each day. Here it is a Safari style clinic where we can travel an hour and half to 2 hours, North or South, each day to find conditions, or we can be sailing right on our doorstep at Big Bay. It means that if we don’t have good conditions in CT we can usually find them elsewhere, also the guests have to be pretty self sufficient and ready to go when they get the call.
We group the guys and ladies into teams of two or three, sharing accommodation and vehicles. Each evening myself and Ben will study the forecast and look for the best place to sail for the next day and update the team on WhatsApp. Meet there in the morning and go rip!
We kicked off with the coaching on Monday, after we had all (myself included) had a few days to get used the conditions; the water temperature, the howling wind and the beasting waves! Well, Monday came and the forecast actually wasn’t too rosey – not the typical Big Bay we had got to know. We decide to head south towards Scarborough and have a nice meet and greet over brunch. We spent a bit of time on the beach checking out everyone’s kit set up and finding out their ambitions whilst we waited for the wind. Unfortunately the wind never arrived, so not the best start to the week, but as they say – the only way is UP!
Myself and Ben decided to stay in the South as the forecast was looking good, so we were hoping to be there really early and have the place to ourselves. We instructed the guys to get up-and-at-'em super early the next day, leaving at 6am, to beat the traffic. What we got for our troubles was a day of starboard tack wobble and ride in some pretty heavy but amazing waves, it was true down the line sailing and our early risers were the first out on the water and sailed all morning.
After lunch we headed to Cape Point and scored the best hour of wind for the day, in some slightly easier waves and we could straight away see everyone enjoying themselves more and sailing better, compared with difficult morning at Scarborogh.
For day 3, we were really hoping for one of the classic Cape Town forecasts but it still wasn’t quite happening, so more Safari-ing, but this time North to the quiet little seaside village of Paternoster. We had the place to ourselves, easy 4.7 weather, smaller waves and back on port tack with some nice wave riding conditions. As coaches, it was perfect, we got to see everyone’s ability on each tack and in different conditions.
We didn’t get home from Paternoster until midnight and crashed out. We woke up to the beautiful view of Big Bay going off! First we headed out to Sunsets, just a 15 minute drive down the coast from Big Bay, to the south car park. We finally scored some great jumping conditions and all the guys had the go-for-it we were hoping for plus, we caught it all on camera. We stopped for lunch and a video debrief to correct all their little mistakes and headed out again at Big Bay where we had some okay sailing but unfortunately the wind dropped on us.
The group were super pumped to get back out there the next day, and the wind didn’t disappoint. We went staright back out to Sunsets the next morning with similar conditions which helped us to see the improvement on their jumps. Everyone was starting to throw proper forwards and backloops. not confusing them with a pushloop! We also saw a lot of nice wave riding from everyone, with big progress on the bottom turns.
The next day we gave them all a day off so we had a cheeky night out with some dinner and then a little party with the King of Air riders and crew.
Our next coaching day started with a wave riding video debrief, before heading up to sunsets to wait for the wind to come in and practise some muscle memory for wave riding. Everyone on the beach swinging those hips about was quite a sight! Plus we compounded the forward technique with some extra muscle memory practice using Ben’s on-water, light-wind, flare gybe forward which really shows how to get those hips twisted in order to kick the board off downwind. The proof was really in the pudding because we saw a huge change in a lot of the guys forwards in the next days jumping conditions.
We had such a rocking gang for this clinic, we’ll start with the Estonians; Onnela and Martin, who had done a good amount of wave sailing before but never had coaching and they really came on leaps and bounds, especially in their wave riding. Their bottom and top turns improved with them going back up much more vertically to the wave. They have also taken away a lot of knowledge a tips for their jumping too, that they are keen to try out at home.
Julian and Matt joined us for a second year. Julian is a super nice, calm, reserved guy and we were trying to instill a bit more aggression in to him. It wasn’t until a little run in with a kiter that he managed to ‘go green’ and transformed from Julian to Polakow and was absolutely ripping with huge smacks on some big sections. Matt, like the Estonians, really changed his wave riding game, with huge speed down the wave and getting much more vertically up the wave to top turn. Both were sending the forwards and Julian was having some great tweaked pushy efforts.
Samuli from Finland, who I knew from my clinic in Ireland, was loving life – we first improved his all-round sailing, just simply getting him to sail faster. Something we found almost across the board was a lack of ability to sail in lighter winds, for wobble and ride conditions, so we taught him how to be lighter and more efficient on the board (and that doesn’t meaning eating less cake). His forward technique was one of the best on entry and he sailed out of a few nice ones this week.
Next up we have our Italian friends, Vincenzo and Mauro, who I have known for some years and have joined me on other clinics, including Ireland last year. Mauro is super light and sails like a ninja. The guy has got some serious go-for-it, with some big forwards and he is super close to landing his backies. Vincenzo got his spin loops dialled and sent some lovely clean forwards which was awesome to see.
Nick and Joakim were another little team. It was the first time for Nick to be sailing in port tack jumping conditions, so it was big change for him but he had a great time, and I think even realized that for wave riding it is actually his preferred tack. We could see straight away how quickly and easily he picked it up on his first few waves on starboard tack. Joakim was like the dark horse, during the first two lighter days he struggled a bit, but once the wind kicked in he had showed us all his ability, throwing big forwards. I think (and hope) that he will keep all of the information on board and see how much his forwards have improved when he’s sailing at his home spot.
Last up we have the Pozo king, Mad Marcus. He only sails at Pozo in 3.3 – 3.7 weather, so the first couple of days were such a shock to his system. I know he enjoyed the variety massively even though I think he felt like he went backwards a little bit, as such a competent strong wind sailor, but the all round improvement and growth of ability in a variety of conditions will start to show in his home sailing too.
Overall we couldn’t have asked for more, a fantastic group of sailors both on and off the water who are now motivated to go away and keep pushing those limits. Big smiles and enjoyment all round!
If you haven't already seen it, Send iT Sunday went online yesterday, you can watch it here https://windsurfing.tv/video/send-it-sunday-episode-31-coaching-clinic-cape-town/, so you can put some faces, moves and crashes to those names!