Michelle Sky Hayward is no ordinary Wild Card traveller. As a professional kitesurfer and avid explorer, her Wild Card takes her to some of the best ocean spots. By Arnold Ras

Being in the water almost daily, champion kitesurfer Michelle Sky Hayward has a passion for South Africa’s pristine coastline. And since many of the prime kitesurfing spots are Wild Card destinations, it’s evident that Michelle also has a passion for conservation.

Wild chatted to Michelle to find out what she gets up to with her Wild Card:

What are your top kitesurfing destinations in South Africa?

Langebaan Lagoon is my number-one spot. Besides the mesmerising blue water, the wind blows consistently through the lagoon and the water is flat. It’s an ideal environment to get acquainted with kitesurfing, but also great for advanced riders who want to improve. Bloubergstrand is one of the most popular spots in the world because of the strong, steady wind, big waves and long stretch of beach. Riders from all over the world come here to kitesurf. No wonder it’s known as “Kite Beach”! There are also amazing spots in the Garden Route National Park like Sedgefield, and Cannon Rocks in PE. Here the water is somewhat warmer and not as crowded.

Did you know? Cannon Rocks forms part of the Bird Island Marine Protected Area (MPA).

Michelle Sky Hayward-kitesurfing-5-min

Pictures courtesy of Michelle Sky Hayward

SA’s coastline boasts several MPAs. Your take on kitesurfing and conservation?

It’s crucial for all ocean addicts to put conservation first. I love that our country makes such an effort to protect our oceans. My love for the ocean and its marine life goes far beyond my love for kitesurfing. It is my mission to make everyone aware of conservation and since I spend so much time in the water, I feel that my kitesurfing career is a great platform to do this.

Why should we protect our oceans?

I think it is important to remember that when we are in the ocean, we are only guests. When we encounter marine life, we are in their homes. I also believe that we were put on Earth to take care of it, and not to neglect it. The ocean is our largest ecosystem and therefore Earth’s largest life support system. Without it, we cannot exist. When you spend as much time as I do in the sea, you start to form a deep love for the ocean and the creatures that call it home.

I can’t imagine my life without the ocean. Naturally, I feel like I will do everything to protect it. – Michelle Sky Hayward

You’re an avid Wild Card traveller. How do you benefit from the Wild Card Programme?

The Wild Card Programme has improved my life in many ways. My husband and I go to Langebaan Lagoon almost every weekend and on our way there, we always drive through the West Coast National Park. We love doing game viewing on our way to the lagoon. The West Coast is home to incredible wildlife and birds.

As a Capetonian, it goes without saying that I use my Wild Card to explore Table Mountain National Park and visit the penguins at Boulders Beach. Since becoming a Wild Card member two years ago, I’ve been motivated to explore more of what nature has to offer. I also look forward to visiting the Garden Route National Park and Addo Elephant National Park on my way to the Eastern Cape – I often head in that direction for kitesurfing.

Michelle Sky Hayward-kitesurfing-2-min

What exactly is kitesurfing?

In kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, you make use of a kite to steer yourself on the water’s surface while standing on a board. The kite is attached to long lines, a bar to hold on to, and all of this then attached to a harness around your waist. There’s something for everyone while enjoying kitesurfing: ride waves like a surfer, do tricks like a wakeboarder, jump high into the sky like a gymnast, or race the winds like a sailor.