I was down in Cape Town for 3 weeks and decided to get some kite surfing lessons. I searched on the Internet and contacted a few schools, but most did not respond or only responded a few days later. Wolfram (the owner) from KiteKahunas was the only school to get back to me the very same day and gave me all the information I needed to make the best decision for my situation. I booked 7 days of private 1:1 lessons (course B), and just want to share my experience at KiteKahunas with everyone out there. Their prices also looked very reasonable for the local market.
A year prior to receiving lessons at KiteKahunas, I had received two days of private lessons at Langebaan, which got me on the board (but not to the point where I was in control). I then proceeded to practice at Sterkfontein dam (inland) and Lamercy lagoon (Durban), but I wasn't making any real progress by myself, which was frustrating. I was constantly battling to go upwind and could not manage to turn despite having watched the Progression Beginner DVD several times...
My first impression of KiteKahunas was very good! The premises are situated in a very upmarket area (Sunset Beach), and the guesthouse was well kept, spacious, clean and private. You are virtually on the beach, which becomes convenient once you are ready to go kiting in the ocean... I also felt my gear and belongings were safe there. From the onset, I could sense that there was a lot of order, structure and processes in place in the business, so you always know what to expect - it is clear that Wolfram (the owner) has put a lot of thought into ones stay there, and that your activities are carefully planned. I was especially impressed with the locker facilities provided for ones gear, which are large and sturdy (stainless?) steel lockers with proper locks, so when your gear is locked up, you need not feel concerned about it.
I soon met my Instructor, Ugo, and the two intern staff members, Stephan and Anett. It was very easy to get along with the staff and we became very fond of each other's company from the start. I knew that my second-hand gear I bought a year beforehand was old technology (2008) and was encumbering my progress - the time had come to start replacing this and so I asked for their assistance. Ugo and Wolf spent a lot of time assessing my equipment and giving me feedback and explanations on the problems I experienced. They suggested that I stick with my equipment for the first lesson, so that I have a benchmark to compare any future gear changes against. Gradually over my stay, we changed one piece of equipment at a time. At first my board - I had a 132cm, which had just about no flex and was way too small for my 95kg frame - we changed this to a 140cm board with more flex (for jumps when I am big some day..). This was by far the change with the most impressive effect on my kite surfing experience - it made staying on the board, edging and going upwind a breeze compared to my previous board. Later on I bought a second hand 9m Slingshot RPM from Wolf, which had better depower, wind range and overall feel than my older 10m. I am very impressed with this 9m kite as during my stay, I had used it in wind conditions ranging from 15knots to 35knots. The last part of my gear that we changed was my seat harness, which was the cause for much pain and discomfort (bruises on the upper parts of my leg and too much pressure on you know what). We changed this to a Dakain seat harness and you can't believe the difference in experience (no more bruises and no more pressure on you know what). Ugo and Wolf have so much experience with the different brands and their strengths and shortcomings and I found their advice was focussed around what was best for me and not just trying to sell me something to make a quick buck. This I really appreciate.
My first lesson with Ugo was the most memorable. Unlike other days, that day he taught me not one or two big things, but rather 10-20 small things that had a massive impact on my approach to kiting. All the basics that I should have known at my level, but didn't, he taught me and all the bad habits I had formed over the past that were potentially dangerous, he corrected - lots of many small techniques, such as the way you get onto the board, the way you move your board around you in the water, not crossing hands on the bar, etc. What I found invaluable with Ugo is his approach to teaching and that he is a good communicator: he does not give you 10 sets of instructions and say "there you go, try it"; instead he gives you one small, bite-size instruction at a time, which is easy to accomplish. This I find, makes learning a lot easier. Whether intentional or not, this approach is exactly what is promoted by the teachings of the Kaizen principle (adopted by many manufacturers and businesses worldwide).
My primary goals and purpose for booking lessons with KiteKahunas, was to learn to ride upwind and stay upwind, to ride with confidence and not feel like I was barely in control, learn to do turns and to go in the ocean. I had accomplished all of these within 4 days of lessons from Ugo. The first 3 days were spent at Langebaan and on day four he had me kiting in the ocean at Sunset Beach. Ugo was always on his board somewhere around me watching, and giving instructions via radio. I find this method of teaching with radio is the only real way to make progress. I did not expect to get this far, and was probably not mentally ready for it, but by day 6 I was learning to do jumps already. That was not even close to entering my goals list. So overall, I am extremely happy with my progress - all my goals were met and exceeded. Ugo was a brilliant instructor, and Wolf was always super organised around the business. The advice I received around my gear was insightful and has made a massive impact to the comfort of my ride.
I highly recommend KiteKahunas to anyone out there that is serious about learning to kite-surf, and that is potentially stuck at a point where they are not making progress. I will hopefully be back soon to receive more lessons on jumping and wave riding.
Thanks to Wolfram and all the staff members at KiteKahunas for a memorable experience.