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The Unlimited Kitesurfing Adventure

August 17, 2012

In JULY 2012 a media release went out on a team of individuals that HELIVAC has secured an Emergency Evacuation Helicopter for. It’s exciting stuff! It’s scary stuff! It’s great reading.

Ross and Zach are now officially into Day 4. They taking it as day 2 of 2 rest days! There had been a change in the wind direction, so hopefully all back on board Saturday. Below you will see the Media Release, and then of course Day 1 and Day 2.




Two South African extreme sports enthusiasts will attempt to battle their way into the history books by kitesurfing a gruelling 430km route down the East Coast of Africa in The Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition. Hailed as one of the most ambitious kitesurfing expeditions ever planned off the African coast, this epic voyage promises to be the ultimate fight between man and the elements.

During this thrilling endurance test, Durbanites Zack Buchan (36) and Ross Walters (35) will set out from Ponto do Ouro in Southern Mozambique on Monday, 13 August – weather permitting – on an intense journey down to Durban.  The expedition has been timed to coincide with the prevailing north-easterly winds along the Northern KwaZulu Natal coastline at this time of year. However, an unexpected cold front hitting the coast could pose serious challenges as driving south-westerly head winds would severely hamper their efforts.

Although the straight-line distance is 430 kilometres, the team will end up doing significantly more as kitesurfers will tend to zig-zag as they move down the coast.

The intrepid pair is planning to kite for up to eight hours each day, covering between 70 and 100 kilometres depending on weather conditions. If the conditions are favourable and their equipment holds up, they can potentially complete the journey in five days, but realistically it is expected to take between eight and ten days. “Your body really takes a beating in kitesurfing so this journey will be about endurance and pitting ourselves against the elements,” stated Buchan at a training session in Durban yesterday.

In addition to fitness training, rigorous preparation has been required to ensure that the team is primed for all eventualities as the route presents numerous trials for kitesurfers. As they plan to kite just behind the backline for the majority of the journey, the most imminent threat will be losing a board or crashing a kite in big surf whilst on a rocky stretch of coastline.

Added to this, there is the prevalence of marine life. Whilst the warmer waters off KwaZulu Natal are notorious for sharks, they will also have to contend with crocodiles while around the St Lucia estuary.

With so much riding on equipment, both Buchan and Walters have sourced the very latest in kitesurfing technology. To make the most of the expected wind conditions, they will have their pick of three kites ranging from eight to 12 metres. The optimal kite size is influenced by wind conditions with the larger kites suited for lighter conditions while the smaller kites are used in heavy winds.

The Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition will be using Ozone Reo kites and Xelerator waveboards supplied by Kitesports.  According to Sinesa Misic of Kitesports, Ozone kites have only recently been introduced to the South African market, while the surf-type boards are perfectly suited to this challenge.

“The Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition is an ideal opportunity to showcase the performance capability of the Ozone Reo kites. The kites have been constructed specifically for excellent wave riding, quick handling and ease of relaunch, which means that they can seamlessly adapt between rigorous trials such as this ultra-distance attempt and leisure kiting,” explains Misic.

Safety is also a priority and a support crew will be following the team from the land with GPS trackers and will be able to communicate with them via two-way marine radios. The kitesurfers will also be equipped with electrical shark repellent units and they will each have an emergency beacon which, once activated, transmits a mayday signal that will mobilise the nearest search and rescue operations. In addition, there will be an emergency evacuation helicopter on standby provided by Helivac.

“This journey has its dangers and if one of us is seriously injured, just knowing that we have a direct line to Helivac and its helicopter emergency evacuation will give us peace-of-mind,” Buchan adds.

The sport of kitesurfing can trace its roots back to the 1800’s, but it was only the experiments of German and French inventors in the 1970’s and 1980’s, with further developments in the nineties by the Roeselers in the USA and the Legaignoux in France, that resulted in the birth of modern kitesurfing.  The sport has shown explosive growth since then with an estimated 210 000 participants in 2006 to the current status quo of kitesurfing edging out windsurfing as an Olympic discipline at the 2016 Rio Games.

Steph Bester, CEO of expedition sponsor The Unlimited, says this extreme initiative dovetails with the company’s ethos.  “This amazing attempt is extreme enough for us to put our name to – we believe in doing the extraordinary and these adventurers will achieve just that as The Unlimited Kitesurfing Expedition will push the limits of ordinary human endurance,” stated Bester.


DAY ONE – 14 August 2012 (Kite Surfing Adventurers dodge sharks on first leg of 430KM journey)

The Unlimited Kite Surfing Expedition got off to a roaring start today (Tuesday) as the two explorers navigated a solid 87 kilometre leg down the East Coast of Africa.

Zack Buchan (36) and Ross Walters (35) started on their 430 kilometre kite surfing journey from Ponto do Ouro in Mozambique to their home town of Durban today.

The pair enjoyed an average speed of around 22 kilometers per hour, which took them all the way to Sodwana Bay in a time of about 5 hours.

Buchan and Walters were blown 5km off shore by the North Westerly wind, which thankfully changed direction to a much needed North Easterly around mid-day, increasing their speed and efficiency over the water and bringing them closer to shore.

“The danger of the adventure was brought home to us when we were blown out to sea. We also encountered a huge shark but luckily it was basking on the surface and wasn’t really interested in having a quick bite,” said Zack Buchan.
The pair hope to make it to Cape Vidal by sunset tomorrow.

DAY TWO- 15th August 2012 (Kite Surfing duo make it to Cape Vidal)

The Unlimited Kite Surfing Expedition progressed more than 60 kilometres down South Africa’s East Coast today with Zack Buchan and Ross Walters beaching at Cape Vidal mid afternoon. On the water for over five hours, the duo completed over 100kms of kiting to cover the 67km straight line distance.

The day’s journey from Sodwana Bay got off to a good start as they enjoyed strong North Easterly winds for the first 40 kilometres of the day with swift progress across the water and recording top speeds of over 30km’s per hour.

However, the conditions soon turned unfavourable for kitesurfing as Walters and Buchan started struggling against gusty winds, with the jerking action of the kites draining them of energy.

The pair eventually arrived at Cape Vidal beach at around 15:00 this afternoon, closing out a tough two-day session of kite surfing.

They are expected to continue their journey to Richards Bay on Saturday morning as South Westerly winds associated with a cold front move in over KZN this evening.

They are currently expected to reach Durban, their final destination, on Monday or Tuesday, depending on weather conditions.

 You can follow Zack’s blog on It is great reading.

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