Spectacular Cape Town Winter Downwind

Monday, 25 June 2018 12:32 | Written by 
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Paddling through a 40-50kt squall in "Hurricane Alley"! Paddling through a 40-50kt squall in "Hurricane Alley"! Credits: Rob Mousley

The Miller's Run in Cape Town is deservedly one of the best known downind routes in the world...  But it's on the "Reverse Buffels" run where we get to play in 40-50kt howling blasts of wind and spray.  On Saturday, 23 June, 2018, we had everything - wildlife, rainbows, endless 20kph runs, gale-force blasts in "Hurricane Alley"... and even a cameo appearance by the Kenny Rice!

Buffels Run 

The Reverse Buffels starts at Fish Hoek Beach with the wintery NNW wind (ideally, but NW will work too) blowing at your back.


The route takes you straight offshore towards the Roman Rock lighthouse, then curves due south past Bakoven Rock at Miller's Point (which marks the start of the Miller's Run) to Partridge Point and across Smitswinkel Bay.

This section (Miller's to Smits) often has the cleanest, best shaped runs and it becomes a competition to see how long you can surf without taking a stroke.

After Smits, you paddle past massive cliffs - which funnel the wind into gusts that whip whirling clouds of spray off the surface of the sea.  These are why you NEVER paddle this section if the wind has swung to the west - because the squalls then come off the cliffs side-on and smash you straight out to sea...  Never do the Reverse Buffels in a WNW!  


Saturday's paddle was particularly special: four of us set out at 11am, hoping to score the maximum wind strength.

A couple of km in, Robin Tindall let out a whoop - a full rainbow had appeared over Simon's Town...  too bad we couldn't stop for the pot of gold...  


Rainbow over Simon's Town

Next stop, Roman Rock lighthouse where we paused for the requisite tourist pics.

Roman Rock


The next ten km was downwind heaven - the runs weren't particularly big or fast, but they were clean and we were maintaining speeds of 15-20kph with very little effort.

Downwind Fun

And then... Hurricane Alley was a treat.  The wind was in exactly the right direction and if anything tended to shove us slightly inshore.  Spectacular.  And as we came through, a different kind of hurricane came by - Kenny Rice flashed past, leaving us scratching in his wake.

Hurricane Alley

What an unbelievable treat.


And here's the video - it was a hard task cutting it down to just 4min!  Best to set it to full resolution (1080p) and widescreen....  Enjoy!

Postscript - Rescue

A few hours later, a paddler on a reverse Miller's came off and injured himself trying to remount his ski just south of Roman Rock lighthouse.  Fortunately he had pencil flares and popped a series of them, which were spotted by the NSRI's Coast Watch team who'd been alerted by the paddler's companions who'd realised that he was in trouble.  Click here for the full story.


  • Anyone can injure themselves; it doesn't matter if you're the best paddler in the world - if you can't paddle, you're in deep manure.
  • Pencil flares work.  If this paddler hadn't had them with him, he'd potentially have been in very deep trouble since he was being blown offshore.
  • SafeTRX would have helped.  If SafeTRX is available where you paddle (and it's in most of Europe, in South Africa and in Australia), do yourself a favour and install and use it.  (Don't rely on it solely of course - always use a combination of safety procedures, starting with fitness and competence appropriate to the conditions.)

Thank you NSRI!

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