Red Bull King of the Air: wind conditions in kitesurfing


The weather window for the world’s toughest big air kitesurfing competition opens on November 18 as the best in the industry return to South Africa for Red Bull King of the Air. Why a weather window? To have big air, you need big wind. It’s simple, really. But not that simple.

“There is no minimum wind speed limit necessary to kick off the event,” said Sergio Cantagalli, sporting director of Red Bull King of the Air. Rather, what the team is looking for are suitable and sustainable conditions in which to start the event. The appeal must be made by the competition director, Olaf van Tol.

“Ideally – and unless we are dispersed for unexpected reasons – we will hardly consider any wind below an average of 25 knots (46 km / h) to begin with, and with a forecast of 35 to 37 knots (65 to 69 km / h), if not more, “he says.

According to Sergio, the ideal wind direction for Kite Beach is the proverbial “Cape Doctor” of the southeast.

“The prevailing summer weather includes the South Atlantic high pressure system located much further south,” says weather guru, professional surf forecaster and founder of Wavescape.co.za, Steve ‘Spike’ Pike.

“Cape Town is located along the eastern edge of this high pressure system. Simplistically, the counterclockwise flow around the high pressure area forms the basis of the summer south-easterly trade wind that blows during the summer. The dry, denser air that creates the high pressure also means sunny, dry weather. Pike said.

To paraphrase the climatologist, we have hot sunny days and constant winds in Cape Town during the summer. Now back to science.

“The interaction between areas of high and low atmospheric pressure forms the basis of ocean weather conditions. High pressure (over 1013 mb) consists of cool, dry air that sinks in (creating more pressure on the sea surface). The air around the high pressure moves counterclockwise. Low pressure (less than 1013 mb) is hot air that rises. The air around the bottom moves clockwise. The air goes from high pressure to low pressure (to replace rising air) and this creates wind. As the earth warms up, more air rises from the earth and the pressure gradient between the two increases, making the air flow faster, and therefore the wind stronger, c This is why SE is often at its strongest in the afternoon. Pike explains.

The section of Cape Town’s west coast – from Milnerton, to Table View, Big Bay and beyond – stretches in a direction similar to the southeasterly wind, which means the winds are blowing over the beach, and not on land or offshore. “This means that surfers can pull the wind back and forth parallel to the shore, crossing the surf line close to the shore,” Pike explains.

It also means they can light up along the face of the wave for long periods of time, creating epic surfing opportunities. “Unlike most European countries, which remain totally flat for months during their summer season, South Africa has a lot of swells during the summer.” Pike sums it up.

So there you have it, now you know why you’ll hear more German and Dutch than Afrikaans on the Weskus this summer.

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South AfricaKite Beach – Blouberg, Cape Town, South Africa