In 2010, Kirk Hollis kiteboarded 3,500 kilometers from South Africa to Kenya, solo and unsupported, over the course of eight months with just a small backpack of his belongings on his back.
The experienced kiteboarder studied the regional trade winds and planned the entire trip for over five months. As it was an unsupported solo trip everything had to be carried on Kirk’s back in a backpack with a dry bag inside.
To reduce weight all the gear had to be light and compact, with no space for food. Kirk ate off the lands he visited, buying fresh fish off locals along the way. To save space Kirk packed a hammock with a built in Mozzy net which became his home for the duration of the trip.
Other gear consisted of tools, a repair kit, a first aid kit, two pairs of board shorts, a pair of flipflops and a couple of T-shirts. Kirk Hollis decided to carry a 10-metre Ozone Catalyst and a 5.5 foot racing board.
The South Africa to Kenya Kitesurf Expedition kicked off in July 2010, from Sodwana Bay, in northern South Africa. With the South Easterly Kuzi trade wind not having as much effect as anticipated in the south, getting north was much harder than Kirk had expected.
On one day Kirk set off with the wind blowing 20 knots offshore and his kite got tangled. Kirk ended up 5 km offshore with nothing around him. After about an hour of drifting offshore, Kirk was ready to lose the kite. It was then that he spotted a small dug out canoe pedalled by a local fisherman.
With the small boat being too small for both of them in the big swell, Kirk was only able to hand his kite to the fisherman while he himself had to paddle his kite board back to shore for 6 hours with no drinking water at hand.
“When something like this happens your respect for the ocean grows a lot. Struggling through the hard times is a mind game, you have to stay calm and focused and know you can get back” Hollis said.
He reached Pemba, in Northern Mozambique, and after waiting there a few weeks, constantly checking the wind reports he decided to put the trip on hold. There was simply not enough wind and the completion of his trip would have to wait for the next Kuzi trade wind which only comes once a year.
In July 2011, Kirk made his way back to the coast and headed across to Southern Tanzania to start the second leg of the expedition to Kenya.
With the wind howling in Kenya the distance covered most days was a good 40-50 km. After a few days of chilling and enjoying some real food in Diani Beach, Kirk continued up the coast for another week and got to Malind, where he ended the expedition after having kite surfed a grand total of 3.500 km setting a new kiteboarding long-distance world record along the way.
kickass kiteboarder that Kirk dude!