Facts about Sandboarding in SA
Most of the world will have heard of snowboarding, even if they’ve never tried it themselves, but many are not aware boarding can be done on sand as well as snow-covered mountains.
Being a South African, you may have already discovered this fun and exciting activity which is fast developing into a mainstream sport. If not, perhaps it’s something you may enjoy trying out this summer? The only prerequisite is that you’re physically moderately fit and you’re basically good to go hurtling down a sand dune. The worst thing that can happen is that you experience a mouthful or two of sand, but that’s nothing a cold beer at the end of the day couldn’t fix.
Surfing the Dunes
While the existence of sand dunes is a prerequisite not found everywhere, the benefit of this sport over snowboarding is that the surface it needs is available all year-round. It can’t, however, be done in wet conditions or very strong winds. Both activities use a board with bindings, waxed to allow it to glide smoothly, but while ski lifts are relatively easy to build on snow, getting up sand dunes requires a buggy or a similar vehicle - or alternatively walking to the top.
Another obvious difference is in what you’ll be wearing. In terms of clothes, sand-boarding is almost like going to the beach, complete with a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen lavishly applied to stop you from burning. Techniques, on the other hand, are not that different. Speed of descent can be controlled in one of two ways: by picking a dune with a certain height and angle, and by carving – shifting one’s weight to steer the board. Once the basic skills have been mastered, sand boarders can engage in modest or more impressive jumps and back flips. These days sand-boarding is practiced in Australia, Egypt, the US, Peru and Chile in South America, Germany and Greece in Europe, and naturally, South Africa.
Is South Africa a popular sand-boarding destination?
Numerous sand dunes make South Africa an ideal sand-boarding destination. Local pioneers tested South African sand during the early 1970s and some 20 years later it became a popular touristic attraction. In the year 2000, the South African sand-boarding league was established.
Two popular sand-boarding sites can be found in Cape Town, one being Atlantis on the West Coast and the other Betty’s Bay on the East Coast, the latter a massive 250m dune allowing you to reach great speeds and experience a memorable adrenaline rush. Should you find yourself close to Johannesburg, head to Mount Mayhem in Benoni and make the best use of old gold mine dumps. The Dragon Dune, situated close to Mossel Bay, is South Africa’s longest sand board ride stretching for 320m. South Westerly winds make sure the dune is always in top shape, offering a smooth ride and spectacular view of the ocean. Someone has supposedly described the sand-boarding experience as falling on clouds, so if you’re curious what that would feel like, make sure to visit one of the above mentioned locations this summer.