This January saw the completion of 32nd annual prestigious Langebaan to Saldanha Downwind Dash.
Primarily a kite surfing competition, the race sees a huge diversity of participants from surf skis, SUPs, hobies, windsurfers, catamarans and sailing dinghies. The Downwind Dash is without doubt the largest gathering of water sport enthusiasts in Africa.
1. Langebaan to Saldanha is the Ultimate Test
The race is approximately 20km long and goes from Langebaan’s Main Beach to Dial Rock in Saldanha Bay.
Langebaan is an ideal spot for kite surfing, thanks to its excellent wind conditions, beautiful surroundings, and world-class instructors. Langebaan is even home to Kite Quarters, accommodation specially tailored for kite surfers.
The Downwind Dash runs a 20km course from Langebaan Main Beach to Dail Rock in Saldanha.
There are two types of entries: unceded (who have never completed a race and wear white jackets while competing) and ceded (who have finished the race previously and wear green).
2. From the Beginning
Malcolm McGregor, a founder of the Saldanha Beach Sailing Club, started the race in 1984. Malcolm still windsurfs today at the age of 80 and is an inspiration to many.
3. Is there anything special about this year?
The 2018 Downwind Dash is dedicated to the memory of Mercia McGregor, Malcolm’s wife and biggest supporter who passed away in 2017.
4. What Does It Take to Compete?
The 20km course is grueling and passes through large stretches of deep, dark water, where the wind can drop, and leave even the most experienced kite surfer stranded.
While there is no official limit to who can enter, it is recommended to have at least two years kitesurfing experience and a relatively high level of fitness.
Though the fastest time is 18 minutes (Peter Slate in 1999), most people take at least an hour.
Often many participants don’t make it to the finish line. For example, because of particularly severe weather conditions in 2017, nearly 50% of participants were unable to complete the race.
The Downwind Dash is a grueling race for kite surfers, windsurfers, hobies, SUPs, surf skis, and catamarans. Photo: Riaan Swart.
5. Internationally Renowned Participants
The race attracts leading international competitors, such as Aaron Hadlow and Jean De Falbaire.
Village n Life’s very own Maree Brink has participated for the past 3 years. This year was his first time completing the race. Congratulations to Maree!
6. Who won this year?
2018 Winners include:
First Place: Jerome Bonieux of Mauritius
Second Place: Sebastien Cattelan of France
First Place: Megan du Plessis of South Africa
Second Place: Jenna Venter of South Africa
More results here.
The Downwind Dash is a fundraiser for NSRI in Mykonos, the Hospice of St Helena Bay, and Animal Care in Saldanha.