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TheKiteMag 50 Desert SessionsTheKiteMag 50 featureOpening spread options 2 copy 1200x800 - Desert Sessions

Desert Sessions

Their hearts set on one last mission before the Cape Town season started, Big Air riders Jett Bradshaw and Graham Howes, along with cameraman Kyle Cabano, embarked on a 3000 kilometer roundtrip to Namibia, with a truckload of Orbits in every size. They found not just a remote paradise known for breaking speed records in 50 knot winds, but also developed a deeper bond of friendship and brotherhood.

WORDS: Jett Bradshaw
PHOTOS: Kyle Cabano
TheKiteMag 50 Desert SessionsTheKiteMag 50 feature MY23 NKB Big Air Nambia Jett Bradshaw Graham Howes KC 017 scaled - Desert Sessions

This was never going to be a mere trip into the desert. It would always be a mystical journey of self-reflection and reliance on our collective strengths. The Namib demands an element of knowledge and total respect, not dissimilar to the ocean’s lack of compassion.

Having spent time in this amazing country as a young lad, never in my wildest dreams did I consider a kiting mission to this massive sand pit. Could we capture enough Big Air content to put a decent production together? When we got the go-ahead for the project, the pressure hit as quickly as a southeaster on a summer’s day in Cape Town. Was I being ‘uncharacteristically’ a bit too enthusiastic (head in hands emoji)?

Although this was primarily a kiting mission, the sincerity of the bond I hoped to develop and translate into film could never be staged. Actors we aren’t. The crew was always going to be critical in delivering the melancholy-styled edit I had hoped to create. One thing I was sure of, wind or not, Graham and I would develop a deep brotherhood away from the madding noise of civilization. Who would complement the pair of us and translate my vision into the tale we hoped to deliver? Kyle Cabano was the man for the job. 100%, this man is so deep, an old soul.

The plan came together pretty quickly. Actually, there was no real plan, just get in and go! We packed a hired 4×4 with a rooftop tent to the brim and headed off to our first stop, the Orange River. Although the wind wasn’t howling, we managed to get some breathtaking footage of the new 2023 Orbits. These kites are honestly works of art – the attention to detail is something else.

TheKiteMag 50 Desert SessionsTheKiteMag 50 featureMY23 NKB Big Air Nambia Jett Bradshaw Graham Howes KC 001  - Desert Sessions

The following morning, we set off for Luderitz bright and early. Although a hostile desert, there is something of interest and beauty around every corner. This is ‘big sky country’; this is Africa! Our first lump-in-the-throat moment came in the form of the elusive Namib Desert Horses – now a herd of less than 200 that were initially abandoned by soldiers in the First World War and have now adapted, survived, and ultimately thrived.

Upon arrival in Luderitz, we immediately felt the embrace and curiosity of the locals. Money doesn’t buy hospitality and a smile. These people, many of whom are unemployed, rolled out the red carpet for the three of us. This was a home-from-home. After spotting the horses earlier in the day and this heartwarming reception, some decent wind would undoubtedly be the proverbial ‘cherry on the cake’.

Although the 45-knot wind we were hoping to bag only revealed itself on our last day, we got some epic sessions throughout our stay, and the footage Kyle captured got better and better. The remoteness of the spots takes one’s psychological experience on the water to another level. As our battery problems revealed, we were a day’s walk from basic civilization if anything should go wrong on or off the water. Equipment quality in these hostile conditions shifts from a mere nice-to-have to an absolute reliance for survival. These Orbits and Navigator bars aren’t just sexy; they are robust, responsive and can take severe punishment in the worst conditions.

Making the long journey home, I felt an overwhelming sense of separation anxiety with every kilometer travelled. Was it the place, the bond I had developed with these two amazing brothers, or possibly a combination of both? A simple dream of mine had turned into a life-changing experience.

As extreme athletes, we tend to take ourselves far too seriously. But in my opinion, this trip was what kiting is ultimately all about – adventure and the outdoors. We laughed, cried, bonded and ultimately tasted what living in the moment was like. Be present and have fun: it tastes really sweet.

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