Taking over the Mother City

Article from North Kiteboarding

Cape Town: The windy, wild and vibrant city bursting at the seams with world class sporting conditions and culture to experience. A winter hotspot for the industry’s biggest names, a favourite holiday destination for kiteboarding enthusiasts and international stage for one of the calendar’s most extreme events hosted by Red Bull ZA, there’s no doubt that it is The place to be.

Andrew Cattell and Simon Duffett are the new North Kiteboarding Distributors in Cape Town, responsible for injecting fresh motivation and passion into the ever growing kiteboarding scene. We catch up with Andrew to hear his thoughts on the local vibe, their plans for the shop and how they see the industry developing on home soil.

Howzit! What made you hop on the opportunity to represent the brand?

Who wouldn’t! Simon and I were just in the right place at the right time. I had quit my career in finance and was looking to follow my passions and create an opportunity out of something I love. I have always supported the brand in South Africa and understood the product. I was ready to inject new energy and vision into building the brand in the sub-saharan African region.

What’s your kiteboarding history?

I started kiting when I was at university back in 2000. Having worked in finance in South Africa and the UK, there wasn’t always a huge amount of time to kite, but whenever I could I’d get out there as a devoted weekend warrior. I’ve been fortunate that through my passion for kiting I’ve travelled to some beautiful destinations around the globe and met some awesome people.

What’s your take on the kiteboarding scene in Cape Town and how has it developed in the recent years?

I think the CPT kiteboarding scene is in a great space. There are people and structures in place who are passionate and I think we will see the industry grow and thrive going forward. One only has to go down to Kite Beach in Blouberg – right in front of our shop and where KOTA will be held this year –  to see the hundreds of kites in the sky all year round when the wind is blowing. We have seen a market increase in the number of people going up to Langebaan, 1 hr drive north of Cape Town, to learn to kite. The lagoon offers perfect flat water conditions in which to progress quickly with constant wind almost every day throughout the season. We’ve opened a shop up there for the season and are thrilled with how it has been performing as well as being able to provide a great service customers up there.

Why do you think Cape Town and its surrounding areas are such a hotspot for the industry’s best?

Wind, wind and more wind! Added to this we are super fortunate that Cape Town has such a diverse range conditions as it’s located on a peninsular; it really benefits from any wind direction. One can start the day down in Cape Point with over head-high waves, move down through Scarborough to Witsands for some twin tip boosting or more wave riding, then a lunchtime session around Blouberg, rounding up the day with an evening set on a foil up in Langebaan. There are sea and lake spots as well as waves and flat water. Given the number of spots and diversity it is very seldom that you feels the crowds, even though there are hundreds of people on the water. 

Cape Town also has a vibrant nightlife, incredible natural beauty and people who are friendly and accommodating. On the rare windless days one is spoilt with the selection of activities to do off the water. Given the above, we are seeing a marked increase in the length of time the riders and test teams are spending in Cape Town year after year.

How does it impact you to have all the international cracks out there for 2 months of the year?

It’s awesome for us and we’re super stoked about it. The level of kiting for the local riders gets pushed and Cape Town, as well as its surroundings, gets profiled as a “must visit” for any kiter.  To see the look on a customer’s face when they see one of their heroes in store, get pro advice for their kite selection or just a quick photo is very cool. We would like to thank all the riders for the contributions they have made in driving customers to the stores, helping out at demo days and competitions.

How do you plan on developing the local scene?

We are supporting and growing the network of North Kiteboarding kite schools and want to see more local competitions and demo days to grow the sport and the industry. We are working with the other brand distributors and SAKA (South African Kite Surfing Association) to ensure that as an industry we are profiling Cape Town as a destination and pushing the sport together. We have grown and continue to grow our local North Kiteboarding team and are super excited to have Lyde Heckroodt signed to the International team.

How do you guarantee the AAA service of North Kiteboarding and availability of spare parts in South Africa?

We pride ourselves on having a whole wall of spare parts in store and for us customer service and a great shopping experience is essential. We realise that when the wind is blowing our customers need to be on the water, so where possible we will carry out repairs in store and change spare parts as the customers waits. If specialised stitching is required we have a long standing relationship with an excellent local sail maker who specialises in repairs. We also fly cargo bi-weekly from Europe to ensure that we are stocked up and if there is a dated spare part that we may not have, then we can courier this within a couple of days. Often we will give the customer our demo gear to use in the unlikely event that we do not have a specific spare part.

What do you think it means to the local kiteboarding scene to host the incredible Red Bull King of the Air event?

It’s huge for the local scene. It builds hype around Cape Town for the sport and gets people who would never kite to the beach to see the speckle. They are blown away physically and literally, and are in awe of what these athletes are able to do. The competition also pushes the local riders to a new level and I think in time we will see more South Africans in the field. We also see a number of tourists booking their holidays so that they are here over the KOTA holding period.

Tell us about the younger generation of kiters in Cape Town and are we seeing more groms take up the sport?

I think we are definitely seeing an increased take-up across all disciplines. Historically we saw the younger generations riding twin tips and wakestyle but I see a spike in interest for strapless freestyle and wave riding. We have some super talented young riders coming through the ranks and i’m excited about what the future holds. I think they will keep challenging the status quo and achieve what we think is impossible to do on a board or kite.

What’s your favourite gear set up and why?

I ride the Dice 9m, with Click Bar on 22m lines and Jaime Textreme 142cm. I’m on the heavier side so can hold this down in the strong conditions that Cape Town is so famous for.

Where can people find you?

We are either at our shop in Blouberg or Langebaan, or on the beach having a “board meeting”! Come say ‘howzit!’ and demo some of the sick gear we have in store. I’ll happily give anyone some local Cape Town tips and share the stoke! 

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