Kitesurfer Lewis busy preparing for the new season

WORTHING kitesurfer Lewis Crathern is busy preparing for the upcoming season in South Africa.

Crathern, a three-time British kitesurfing champion, who has also jumped over Worthing and Brighton piers in recent times, started to head out to Capetown five years ago for his winter preparation. He said: “From November to March is generally seen as off-season for kiteboarding in regard to events and competitions.

“It can be quite cold back at home in Worthing, this isn’t to say that it’s too cold to kitesurf, it’s just not the perfect place to prepare yourself for the upcoming year. Rather than trying new tricks, you spend your time trying to avoid ever falling in.

“When I started kitesurfing, I kited all through the winter as a lot of the true locals do, but you need boots, gloves, even a balaclava hat sometimes and a thick wetsuit. All this stuff can really restrict your movement so, like others, I started to leave the country for two or three months in winter about five years ago. Capetown was the first place I tried and I love it here.”

Crathern’s home town of Worthing is never far from his thoughts, though, and when he returns home, he is hoping to promote the sport and make it more well-known.

He said: “My aim this year really is to be promoting kiting. I competed three years in a row on the British circuit and won each time but there is no exposure as the events are very small and, from one 10 minute jump (over Brighton pier), I gained more coverage then in three years of kiting.

“Its not like other sports, like cricket or badminton, where there can be a clear winner. But this sport is so new and nobody knows what direction it’s going in – that’s what I love about it.”

Crathern is hoping to do an international event in America in a couple of months, and believes the windy Capetown conditions have helped his preparations: “There are not many places in the world that blow as strong as the UK but Capetown certainly can match it.

“When planning the big jumps I’ve done in the past, it’s extremely good to be kiting in these conditions as much as possible. What is amazing about Capetown is that a normal day of kiting is sunny, blue sky and generally looks like paradise but the wind strength picks up to gale force by the afternoon, although it’s always sunny.”