Archive for the 'Zen' Category

Brutal Firestorm Winter

Each winter I monitor forecasts and track every major storm that sweeps our Garden Route coastline, hoping to ride the most furious ones that come through. In early June I saw a massive 40 – 50 knot storm on the radar. I was determined to ride it and started to get my body, mind and gear ready. There was a feeling of some chaos and disruption on the day of this storm and there were some logistical issues getting to the beach from Knysna. I had heard that there were a few fires in the morning and was concerned due to the magnitude and duration of the forecast storm. But I had no idea of just how devastating it would be. I did my yoga and meditation practice and headed out for a quick ride. It was a bit gusty but nothing really too intense. Nothing over 40 knots when I rode and I was quite comfortable on a 5.5 m kite. After my session I did a quick trainer kite flying lesson with my assistant. Then someone in the Sedgefield Myoli Beach car park said the road to Knysna was closed and the fires were raging out of control. What a devastating disaster it turned out to be. Deep condolences to those who lost lives. Material things can always be replaced. We let go of what we have lost, we learn and we move forward.

Autumn in South Africa

Stuart Barnes Wakeboarding in Aqaba  Shot by Jolinda Cath

Stuart Barnes Wakeboarding in Aqaba
Shot by Jolinda Cath

I’m back (a little earlier than expected) in South Africa and available for lessons in Cape Town and the Garden Route.

The Middle East was wonderful for yoga, meditation, diving, kitesurfing and wakeboarding.

The autumn is one of my favourite seasons and it’s great to be back.

I’ve been testing some of the latest kitesurfing gear over the past few months. 2015 has seen some giant leaps in performance and some wonderful subtle and sophisticated refinements to the kites and boards that I ride and teach with.

email for further information, to chat about your lesson or make a booking.

See you on the beach and in the water!


Happy 2015 to everyone!

After 8 years of teaching surfing and kitesurfing I’m taking a bit of time to travel, reflect and study. I’ll be back later in the year with even more efficient and fun lessons.

Wakeboarding lessons continue in my absence through most of the year and these are highly recommended to improve your surfing and kitesurfing.

Surf/ kitesurf bookings are open for the Southern spring season (from September 2015 into summer of 2016) in Cape Town and the Garden Route region of South Africa. As I’ve found myself becoming more nomadic over the years, I’m also open to suggestions to travel to meet you at your dream destination.

While I’m away you are most welcome to get in touch with any questions or to request recommendations for learning surfing, kitesurfing and yoga.

email for a chat about lessons, gear or advice.

I hope to see you out there somewhere soon enough!

Have fun 🙂

Stuart Barnes

Freedom Fitness and Flow

Having fun
Getting out into nature
Living in the moment
Forgetting troubles

These are some of the reasons why people surf and kitesurf and want to learn these exhilarating sports.

Learn to surf or kitesurf this Summer! Join us for the 2011/ 2012 season on the Garden Route.

email for further information, to chat about your lesson or make a booking.

Garden Route Surfing

Surfing and kitesurfing are fun and healthy sports that put you in close contact with nature. We place a strong emphasis on safety in all of our training. The goal is always to get you going as efficiently and independently as possible while keeping risks to yourself and others to an absolute minimum. We offer lessons at all the beaches along the Garden Route.

Surfing and Kitesurfing School at Myoli Beach

Summer Surfing and Kitesurfing School at Myoli Beach in Sedgefield

We are safe and fun surfing and kitesurfing school located in the beautiful Southern Cape region of South Africa. We have a wealth of experience and plenty of space and wind and waves to share.

Life Kite Surfing Summer School lessons are under way. We focus on what we love most: Surfing, Kitesurfing, SOGA and teaching. Our lessons mostly take place on the beach between Myoli and Cola beaches in Sedgefield, a town on the Garden Route in South Africa. The school is situated on one of the wildest, windiest beaches in the Southern Cape. It has great exposure to open Atlantic and Indian Ocean swells. It is located between Buffels Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay to the East and Wilderness and George to the West. Our flat water training runs on the beautiful and uncrowded neighboring lakes and lagoons.

All ages, skill and fitness levels are welcome. We work with complete beginners who are new to our sports, with intermediate students and advanced and professional athletes across a range of sports. We take referrals from local and national doctors, working with recovering injured riders to develop gentle bespoke training programmes that set and support goals to accelerate healing and maintain focus and motivation.

We offer lessons in:


You want to stand up and ride waves. We help your get there swiftly with minimum risk and maximum fun. We start with the basics and build a solid foundation for beginning surfers and refine the style and technique of more experienced riders. more…

You want to ride a board whilst flying a kite. We help your get there swiftly with minimum risk and maximum fun. International safety standards that observe and respect Kites Method and IKO principles and practices are used. Over 5 years we have enhanced and refined our approaches to equipment, safety and skills training. We follow a highly individualised, stringent and precise methodology that focuses on mental skills and physical conditioning. more…

SOGA – Yoga inspired core and balance training for Surfers and Kitesurfers
You want to maintain and improve your body and mind. We help you do this with our unique, efficient and effective blend of yoga, core strength and balance training. SOGA excercises prepare beginners for board sports and improve progress and performance of intermediate and advanced riders. more…

We live the dream of a healthy lifestyle in a beautiful natural environment on the beach. We pay careful attention to good nutrition and allow plenty of time for rest to ensure that, when the conditions are perfect, we are ready to have as much fun as possible. In this way we can explore the limits and challenge ourselves while keeping unnecessary risks to an absolute minimum.

email us here for further information, to chat about your lesson or make a booking.


Lazy Evening Sunset Kitesurf at Cola Beach

Yesterday I missed most of the good wind. But I got the dregs in the evening and had a bit of fun trying a new hybrid strapless surfboard. JJ got it on film just before the wind died completely and I ended up sinking as the sun set over the sea. Another beautiful evening on the beach.

rider: Stuart Barnes
camera: JJ Barker

Open Water Swimming

Open Water Swimming

Along the Garden Route in South Africa we are blessed with an abundance of beautiful beaches, lakes, rivers and lagoons. The water temperatures are generally warm to moderate throughout the year, making them ideal for open water swimming.

I have done a fair bit of kitesurf teaching and a few downwind sessions across Swartvlei lake near Sedgefield. It has quite a few shallow water sand banks around the edges and some really deep sections in the midst. It’s a vast and beautiful dark water lake that flows into a nearby lagoon and is fed by a few rivers. As a result it is moderately tidal with slightly lower salinity than the sea.

For some time I had been thinking about swimming a route across the lake and recently I got around to it. I arranged a pick up from one side and set off from the other. The first few hundred metres involved a bit of wading as it was simply too shallow to swim. The water felt a little colder than usual but OK to start with. As I got going I was hit with mild ice-cream headaches and had to keep lifting my head. “This is going to be painful,” I thought to myself! Fortunately the headaches were minor and subsided quickly as I adjusted to the water and warmed up while swimming in my wetsuit.

Swimming across a lake offers a great sense of freedom. I had not been swimming that much since the last Summer so it took a while to get a comfortable stroke and rhythm going. Regular surfing means that my swim fitness is reasonable as the paddling technique is very similar and not much kicking is required for distance swimming. I find that it is best to breathe every third stroke to alternate the head movements when swimming longer distances. This helps to balance the body and maintaining direction. The longer time afforded to exhalation is also calming and good for a nice gliding stroke.

Although I had heard from a kayaker friend that this route was 3km, I was not quite convinced of the distance and suspected that it might be less. The last time I had done much distance of continuous swimming was probably the Midmar Mile in my school days. I found it quite difficult to estimate the time that it would take so I decided to radically overestimate it and prepare to swim for about 2 hours. Psychologically I find that it is always better to exaggerate things like this. I do this on distance walking and hiking too. I keeps one prepared and delays any destructive distractions like thinking “am I nearly there yet?” This allows you to focus more on the breath and stroke and enjoying gliding in the present moment.

I ended up finishing in about 50 minutes, feeling quite refreshed but a little cold after leaving the water. I could comfortably have gone on for another hour or so. Looking at the route on a map it does appear to be roughly 3km.

Through the experience I learnt a couple of things that will be helpful in future:

1. Swim with the sun behind you if at all possible. I started in the afternoon and swam into the setting sun. The glare on the water was sometimes quite intense when looking at the destination. A morning start or swimming the other way would have been a better idea.

2. Picking a good, high landmark is really important. Swimming puts your head and body much lower in the water than surfing, kitesurfing and most other surface water sports. Having crossed this route before with kites and paddling on surf boards during lessons, I did not know how tricky it would be to quickly and accurately spot the destination when swimming. As a result I went a bit off course at one point and had to pause for long moments with head raised to confirm the route.

It was an enjoyable swim and it feels good to have completed it. I am keen to do more open water swimming and would like to try the Island Lake and Knysna Lagoon some time soon. This kind of swimming is great for all round confidence and fitness and improves comfort and relaxation during surfing and kitesurfing. There will always be times when conditions get a bit tricky, a leash snaps while surfing or a kite goes down and won’t relaunch. Swimming confidence make these events simple equipment failures rather than nerve wracking or scary disasters. Occasional equipment issues are just another opportunity to enjoy swimming.

If anyone is keen to join or meet for a fun training or social swim, do get in touch by email.

Serena Brooke Interview

Serena Brooke

I just watched a training video with ASP Pro Surfer Serena Brooke. It features some really good surf specific exercises to develop and maintain core stability, endurance and flexibility. She’s an inspiring athlete with impressive core strength. Here’s a nice interview from her site:

What lessons have you learned from surfing that you have carried over into your life?

“I’ve learnt so many lessons from surfing that have carried over into my life, here are a few:

To go with the flow and not try to push or control things that are beyond my control (like mother nature). That you attract what you fear.

If you put your mind to anything positively it can and will be achieved. Trust in the power that brought you here in the first place.

That fear/stress is your enemy and only magnifies a problem or situation in that moment, stay positive and work through each challenge in the moment without getting ahead of yourself, one thing at a time.

I have learnt that you can always get positive things from what people might call a negative situation, there is always valuable lessons to be learned, with surfing a lot of my injuries have taught me the most.”

What inspires you to give back to the community and be a mentor to young girls?

“I wanted to be a positive role model for young girls getting into surfing whether it be on a recreational or competitive level because there are so many unhealthy or negative choices and pressures on young girls these days that I wanted them to know that what matters in life is what is REAL, not image or perfection or how you should look or be or feel, just have fun and be yourself.

The camps I do are about having fun whatever level you are on amateur, competitive to first time lessons. I also wanted to give back to some women’s charities because that is a huge problem in our society today. I feel strongly about the charities I donate to and every little bit makes a difference, even if I make a small positive difference then that is satisfaction for me, its about spreading the love basically……we all know the world needs more love!”

In the last couple of years the popularity of surfing has really escalated, there’s been Blue Crush and now several reality television shows based around surfing. What do you think is responsible for this sudden increase in popularity?

“The main stream perception and the lifestyle of our sport, its sexy, healthy, challenging and really under used to this point, its a huge sport with tons of positive benefits!”

What are some of the positive and negative aspects you’ve experienced as a result of travelling on tour?

“Positive” – I have learnt a lot about different cultures and aspects of how hard life is for the majority of the worlds population, when your complaining about having no shoes for your feet look around at the guy with no feet! You could always be worse off!

“Negative” or should I say challenging,  – Being stuck on planes for days at a time, missing your home, friends and family. Being in a country for a contest, if you lose and all you want to do is go home but you cant because there is another one next week in another country!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Content doing something I love and am passionate about, still surfing and evolving as a person, loving life and contributing to those less fortunate then myself.

Who are your inspirations in life?

People who live in the moment and are not attached to the outcomes, people who are true to themselves and real. I think Kathy Freeman is inspirational, Kelly Slater is inspirational in a competitive sense he just keeps getting better.

What music CD’s do you listen to when pumping up for a session? What are some of your favourite bands and music you always have with you ?

“It depends whether I need to amp up or calm down, I have a wide range of musical tastes whatever suits my mood at the time; Dance, techno, Missy Elliot, Nelly, Mary J Blidge, IIio, Sade, Black Eyed Peas, Ministry of Sound, stuff like that. I mostly listen to fast dance type music before a heat.”

What has been the highlight of your surfing career? Was it an event, a wave, a contest result, or something someone said/did?

“It would have been winning my first WCT event in Hossegor, in 1996 the first one is always the best, from the trial’s to the final as a rookie.

Finally, what does surfing mean to you?

“It’s an  of me. When life gets too much, surfing keeps me sane and level and helps me to stop thinking in the box of life it releases insight into the big picture bringing me back to nature, its pure, creative, money can’t buy it.

Every wave you catch you will surf differently you draw your own line; it’s such a unique individual expression in that moment.
Even just being out there sitting in the ocean, can turn a challenging day into a positive one. Surfing has given me a career and so many opportunities to be the person I am today.”

– from FAQ on

Shaun Payne in Indo

Shaun Payne in Indo

Here’s a new’ish painting inspired by Shaun Payne in Indo, his father’s awesome surf coaching and the nice people at the beach resort.

It is oil on canvas with wild garlic and rosemary olive oil with marker pen and is small to medium size.

Thank You

Lactic Acid

After hitting a peak fitness level and taking some time off to rest I’m now back into my regular training again.

I took about two weeks break from all my sea sports and even from swimming.

I just did light gym and stretching.

The last couple of days I did a mix of training: swimming, surf paddling, running, cycling with some short and light kitesurfing and surfing sessions.

This felt good – mostly taking it at about 10 – 50% and relaxing into a moderate endurance groove.

Yesterday I stepped up the endurance a bit as an experiment. I did lots of little sessions with lots of resting and eating between. The total training time probably worked out to about 6 hours but most of this was little more than walking exertion. It felt good. But by the end of the day I really felt nicely tired and needed to eat quite a lot.

I slept really well in the night.

This morning I feel a fair bit of that lactic acid fatigue. After training most days for two years it takes quite a lot to get this feeling so it feels like an achievement. I quite like this kind of mild pain as I feel that I have earned it and that I am improving. After a few slow days I’ll be able to take it further and this feels inspiring.

Enjoy the African Summer 🙂