Team Talk: This Is Hardcore Bedouin Tent Rigging in SA

This is the first in a series of team talk articles written by our Tentickle Bedouin Tent staff. These articles will highlight what it is we do and how we do it, we hope you enjoy them…

This Is Hardcore Tent Rigging!

By Tentickle Senior Rigger Jamie Garner

One of the most hectic tent rigging experiences I have been through was rigging 1050sqm’s of Bedouin tent over a roofing display of 3m high by about 15m x 15m at the base, in 100km+ winds!

Cape Town is well known for its extreme winds and these are one of the biggest battles Bedouin tents and any tent or piece of open fabric face during our summer months. 40km winds are pretty much standard every weekend, but on occasions these speeds can increase to 100km’s and more!

How it all started

We departed later than usual from the warehouse and on the way to the event site we were directed by the traffic police to the weight bridge to see if our vehicle was overloaded. This created a bit of a delay in the delivery of the tent, but finally we arrived onsite just after sunset. It was now time to setup 1050sqm’s of tent at night over a roofing structure of 3m high by 15m x 15m. I knew there were strong winds expected but it was very calm, it was the the calm before the storm….

The rigging of the tent

With our crew of 15 riggers we joined our 3 tents, laid them out and started pegging in our corners. The ground was like concrete and it took forever to peg just one peg! But we continued slowly. Within an hour the wind had picked up and was starting to gust very strongly. Over the next half hour the wind speed increased even more. Snap! One of the corner loops was ripped off the tent and the tent corner started to flap violently in the wind. We managed to get hold of the corner and push in a tennis ball and tie a rope around to make an anchor for the tent corner which we tied down again. But the wind did not subside and in fact seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.

We could hear the wind coming in from kilometres away, roaring through the trees and buildings until it hit us, it was causing havoc, damaging trees and making life difficult for the rigging crew! The corner ripped off the tennis ball and various other anchor points immediately started to break. A 1050sqm piece of fabric was now flapping in the wind and the tent was getting blown up to the tent width, which meant it was flapping 30 meters high in the air with metal carabiners tied along the edge.

We struggled in vain to hold the tent down and the riggers were literally thrown in the air. One guy was flung about 3m’s high and landed on his back, unable to to talk for a few minutes. Things were getting bad, but still the wind gre stronger! Pieces of wood that had been lying around the site were now being blown into the air. The dust cloud that was blown up was so thick that we could not see more than 2 meters in front of us, all this at night with a massive tent flapping 30ms high in the air.

Another bang and all the lights went out in the yard! Stuck in the dark with extreme winds I decided it was too dangerous to continue and phoned the client at 2am to say we could not continue for safety concerns. Luckily we had a few days before the function started and had time to come back.

The aftermath

So we could leave now but we had a another problem and that was how to keep the tents down while we rolled them up, the only solution was to actually drive our vehicles onto the tent to keep it down and then roll the tent up.

Just around the corner from the event site on our drive home we saw that a concrete wall 3m x 15m had blown over and a factory had half of the roof ripped off by the winds. The next day I also found out another brick wall had blown down nearby due to the strong winds.

The winds were recorded at 100kms + during that night, luckily no one was injured and we had time to come back and set the tents up again in time for the function.

Now that in my opinion was hardcore Bedouin tent rigging!

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