The Wind Report
Greetings my name is Mike van der Wolk and I own and operate the 8 Wind Report stations in and around Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula - click here to see all Cape Town stations plus we also feature wind info from numerous affiliates together with weather, surf and swell info from around South Africa.
The Current System - the Wind Report® v5
The current system is Version 5 which uses locally developed and manufactured iWeathar weather stations along with Davis anemometers. The iWeathar stations were installed in December 2007 to replace the 5 year-old bulky PC based stations which had reliabilty issues and struggled in the very corrosive windy seaside environment.
Russell Witthuhn of iWeathar has developed a vast network of weather stations locally and internationally providing wind and weather data from their many stations located around South Africa.
This website went live in April 2007 offering to "Find Out before you Go!" a one-stop Wind & Weather info site to help you find the ideal conditions to get out and go enjoy your favorite sport in safety. I do the design and coding get out there into the elements to keep the stations running.
Nicholas Spagnoletti of Nitric Industries did the coding to handle the data and create the graphs. The Premium Rate SMS service runs on Titbits.co.za and was originally developed and is still maintained by Ed van Kuik of Nitric Industries.
History of the 'Pay to Use' Wind Report service
The basis for the current service was laid in 1998. After many solo years, I was fortunate to meet two civil engineers who are equally interested in the wind. Piet Streicher and Richard Simpson needed wind info to satisfy their passion for windsurfing. They erected their first weather station at Sunset Beach, and delivered the information via SMS messaging. I approached them to join forces and we made their wind info available to callers to the Wind Report on the 083 VAS service. They erected stations at Hermanus, Langebaan and Swartriet. This association proved invaluable as they started BulkSMS.com along with Premiumrate SMS service Titbits which I today own and is the platform for the WindSMS.
The new expanded Wind Report® (V4) went live in October 2003. Previous versions of the Wind Report were based at each site and connected to an answering machine attached to a single phone line. Even though only one caller at a time could get wind info we still notched up 17,000 calls at Blouberg in December 1988.
In 2002 Craig Jarvis started kite surfing and needed to know what the wind was doing. He approached me to join him and expand my existing service. His system used PC's and Davis anemometers. This service was borne with 7 stations, including affiliate station Cape Sport Center at Langebaan in October 2003. Expanding the service I opened new stations at Witsands near Scarborough in late 2005, and Cape Point in early 2006.
In Dec 2007 I went on my own and changed the system over to dedicated iWeathar stations, and opening more sites bringing the total stations to 11. My association with iWeathar gives us access to other sites - Camps Bay, Signal Hill, Macassar and Hermanus.
The 082 VAS voice service which started in 2003 was discontinued in late 2013 by the service provider as the cellphone interconnect rates were cut reducing their revenues. Luckily this was the start of the internet being readily available in South Africa on your cellphone.
How it all started
The Wind Report® (Version 1) was started in 1987 by inventor and entrepreneur Howard Stasin the designer and manufacturer of world renowned Shaft Windsurfing Booms and Shaft moulded paddles. Today he is Shaft Mouldings, call them on 021 704-1470 for all your plastics and rubber moulding requirements.
Howard wanted a system to allow him to check the wind around the Peninsula before driving from Houtbay to Bloubergstrand. He came across the US WindTalker system and with expert assistance from numerous parties he developed his own version and started with stations at Blouberg and Muizenberg along with Bluewater Bay in PE (run by Brian Wilson of Suntrax) plus 2 stations in Johannesburg (frequently blitzed by lightning). The system consisted of an answering machine running on a Telkom landline. The wind was measured with self designed windmeters and it used mechanical voice to speak the wind conditions.
Howard and I met, when I called on him in response to an enquiry for aluminium tubing at NFM, where I was employed, for his paddles. Fortuitously I joined him in 1990 because I wanted to know how the wind was affecting the surf for my waveski surfing (paddlesurfing).
We reinstalled Version 2 in late 1990 at the Blouberg Surf Lifesaving club after the first redevelopment and landscaping at Big Bay. At this time it was a state-of-the-art system which utilized natural recorded voice. All components were custom manufactured.
False Bay Surf Lifesaving Club still houses the Muizenberg Wind Report. This station, in the eye of the South Easter, holds the operating record of 8 years with no failure of our own custom built anemometer which Howard developed.
Continuing to expand the network I opened new stations - Kommetjie at Imhoff Caravan Park in late '91 and the Strand at the Hottentots Holland Beach Sailing Club in early '92, which in 2017 is home to one of the most active Kitesurfing clubs in the country.
In early '92 Telkom started their trial 087 network and we seized the opportunity to at last generate some income for the invaluable service we provided. To interface with Telkom we had to install a digital PABX switchboard within 3 km of their exchange in Bellville. This required us taking out a lease on premises nearby and renting an expensive digital PABX system to interface with Telkom. Then disaster! In late '92 Telkom closed down the 087 service citing wholesale fraud, leaving both of us with gaping holes in our pockets along with a 5 year lease on the office premises.
Howard left the partnership and I continued with the Wind Report and funded it with income from my day job. Eventually with invaluable assistance from electronics guru Greg Chin, another paddlesurfing afficiando, we upgraded the equipment to Version 3 using his designed and manufactured new digital voice and answering equipment with off-the-shelf anemometers.
For the next 9 years until late 2003, the Wind Report remained a free service, sponsored by my other ventures, as I believed in the value of providing this service to wind and surf sportsmen.
Numerous people have assisted me with the Wind Report over the years and deserve thanks. If your name has been omitted please let me know and I will include you.
Get out and have a Blast!
Real Wind info - way more accurate than any forecast!
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