Gale Force Downwind

Wednesday, 30 January 2008 17:29 | Written by 
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I've been fortunate enough to play in some very strong winds recently - and on Saturday I had another chance to experience a downwind paddle in a gale. 

Millers Run 2008
At speed - downwind paddling at its best!

Gordon Brown and I had intended to do a Millers Run from Millers Point to Fish Hoek here in False Bay, Cape Town.  I'd checked the wind reading at Roman Rock on the Internet ( and the gusts were registering over 50kts so I knew it was going to be interesting.

Normally the launch point at Millers Point is quite sheltered from the wind and you can get out to the turning point at Bakoven Rock without too much effort.  Today, however, the wind seemed to be coming from a slightly different angle and I could see that we'd struggle to get out of the little bay past the rocks, let alone get out to Bakoven.  The gusts were lifting a veil of spray off the water and were swirling over the sea in mini-whirlwinds. 

It just wasn't worth taking the risk (besides my family were watching and were exhibiting signs of extreme tension.)  So we took the easy way out.  There's another ramp on the north side of Millers Point - completely sheltered from wind and waves.  It wasn't going to be a regular Millers Run, but we'd get out safely and have a great downwind anyway.

Millers Run Surf ski 2008
Gordon Brown on the next wave

So that's what we did - I had the helmet cam with me and made the accompanying video - somewhat better quality than the last one.

12kph - without paddling.

About a minute into the video you can see that I'm still on relatively calm water - but I've stopped paddling and you can hear the wind roaring.  At that point I was doing 12kph - without paddling.

Getting klapped by a wave

About 5min into the clip, you can see where we started heading right towards Fish Hoek - at about 5:45 I wallowed and got whacked from the right by a breaking wave & spun about 90degrees to my left!

Millers Run 2008
Getting hit from the side by a breaking wave (fortunately small!)

Just after that you can see me getting taken out by a wave from behind and the cockpit filling with water.  One thing I REALLY enjoy about the ski is the feeling of security that the incredible cockpit drainage gives me - one wave and the cockpit is empty again.

Millers Run 2008
Getting swamped from behind

I recorded a max speed of around 30kph again on this run - gotta say, I really live for this stuff!

Was the wind really 50kts?  I don't know - I don't think so actually - it might have been at the start where we were cruising along without paddling but it varied through the run.  I do think that it was significantly stronger than the 30kts that we're used to on Millers runs though.

Here's the clip:

[Update - I uploaded the clip onto, with much clearer results.  The link is below.]

Click here for the version 

And here's the original youtube version: 


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