Time is inert for the limitless sands of the Namib desert, constantly in motion as they spill across the shallow lagoons of the West African shoreline and through the ghost towns of once-bustling mining communities. Having driven 10-hours over gravel washboard roads and encountering multiple flooded detours, Aaron Hadlow, Ralf Grösel and Marian Hund threaded their diesel pickups through the sleepy streets of Luderitz and into the driveway of a Bavarian-styled guesthouse. Luderitz, a post-colonial artifact, is a sparsely populated outpost of cement buildings, its wide streets dotted with aging German colonial architecture, remnants of the early 20th-century diamond rush in southern Namibia. Luderitz is not the usual destination for a multi-national R&D team The typical kiteboarders that descend on Luderitz’s offshore lagoons are speed freaks, those few individuals looking to establish speed records where howling winds blow across perfectly still water in man-made ditches. Getting to Southern Namibia is about as

inconvenient as you can get, but in a world disrupted by a pandemic, unrestricted mobility and water access are more than a mere luxury; they’re a necessity.

Every year, kite designers are tasked with making incremental improvements to highly-refined products, and the march of progress requires large blocks of testing time with good conditions to move the dial. With the pandemic hitting every part of the manufacturing supply chain as well as bringing interruptions to the cargo transport industry, nailing every deadline on the prototyping timeline has become much more critical. When Cape Town’s Covid-19 infection rate skyrocketed in January, leading to another shutdown complete with beach closures and a total ban on kiteboarding, Aaron Hadlow and Duotone’s kite designer Ralf Grösel scrambled to come up with an alternate testing site.

Having just returned from a travel clinic in Namibia, Aaron proposed they travel to the lagoons of Luderitz due to its constant supply of wind, low population and open status. No sooner had the team booked 4x4s to make the 14-hour drive north into Namibia, Aaron learned that the country had closed its border for land crossings from South Africa. At that point, commercial aircraft was still an option, so they booked a flight to the capital, 10-hours north of Luderitz. Essentially, they would fly well past Luderitz into the middle of the country and then pack into 4x4s, turnaround and drive south half the span of Namibia to get to their destination. This year in particular, Namibia had seen more rain than in the past 20 years, and with many of the fastest routes flooded, the crew weaved their way towards the windy outpost on the southern coast… To read the rest of On the Lam in Ludertiz subscribe to Tkb.


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