DOWNHILL longboarding is taking South Africa by storm – and Nelson Mandela Bay has ensured it claims its space on the skating scene by offering its most iconic location up as the site for a major festival next weekend.
The second edition of the MBDA Donkin Downhill Dash takes place over the Easter weekend and promises to be a carnival of cool moves, awesome skating, music, longboarding, a skate park, BMX jumps, public art, good food and more, say organisers.
“Bring your mom, your board and your dog and anything on wheels and come skate in the MBDA Donkin Downhill Dash 2013,” said Jacques Nel of Numb City Productions, joint organisers of the event with Downhill Eastern Cape (DEC). “This year the event will take place over two days at the Donkin Reserve in Central and it’s all about chilling out, watching the incredible skills of our city’s skaters – as well as top skaters from around the country – framed by the iconic Donkin Reserve and all the stunning public art on Route 67.
“We are working hard to ensure this year’s event improves on the last, offering a cash purse for the skaters and a host of entertainment and activities for the spectators to enjoy. The Downhill Donkin Dash is a family event and aims to incorporate other extreme sports such as freestyle skateboarding and a development skate clinic as fringe activities for both spectators and enthusiasts interested in these sports. Spectators are encouraged to bring picnics and enjoy the exciting skating and artistic offerings,” said Nel.
The Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) has endorsed the event after last year’s success. “Sites are just spaces without people. While we are hard at work changing the face of the inner city, the real inspiration comes from people’s acceptance and use of the spaces, which turns them into something meaningful,” said Dorelle Sapere, MBDA Planning and Development Manager.
“Our organisation likes to approach marketing in an unusual fashion and supporting the social engagement work Numb City Productions and Downhill Eastern Cape are doing in the Central area not only ensures that the work we do is showcased in a unique way, but also supports the growth of youth and urban culture.”
The second MBDA Donkin Downhill Dash event aims to create a safe and controlled environment for downhill skateboarding to become an accessible and formal sporting industry in Nelson Mandela Bay, as well as showcasing the city’s incredible arts and tourism offering, say organisers.
The time-trial event will see skaters racing against one another in an attempt to better each other's time along the Donkin's Voting Queue Path.
The development of the path – a multimedia artwork that represents the line of voters queuing for the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994 and symbolic crosses littering the path representing people’s votes – has seen growing interest around the Donkin, particularly by longboard skaters and a group calling themselves Downhill Eastern Cape (DEC).
The small group of downhill, longboard skateboarders have been enjoying the gentle slopes and challenging curves of the snaking path from the lighthouse to the bottom of the Donkin Reserve at Chapel Street. Their aim is to have fun, enjoy and engage with their city and build friendships with like-minded sportspeople.
They are set apart from the street skateboarders in the sense that they do not use rails, curbs, walls or staircases to perform their sporting art. Downhill skateboarding is essentially the art of navigating graciously around corners and tight bends at higher speeds while sticking to the road surface.
“The Donkin feels like our home. It’s safe and beautiful – we couldn’t ask for a better space to practice this urban sport,” said Renier van Staden of DEC.
“Following the success of last year’s event, we have taken the first steps to growing the Donkin Downhill Dash into a skating festival that celebrates this stunning public space, our inner city and a sport which is growing year-on-year through its engagement with urban spaces.
“The Donkin has really become a playground for young and old and through this event we hope to change perceptions, expose people to the art of downhill and also just having fun in our city.”
This year’s instalment also features an open race where members of the public can take to the path on any vehicle that has wheels. “The fun run is open and any human-powered craft or vehicle can enter. A winner will be determined at the judge’s discretion. It may be for the fastest time, best craft entered, best dressed, most elaborate accident and so on. Entrance fee for this event is R30 and consists of one ‘fun’ run only,” added Nel. Entrants are requested to wear helmets.
Nel also said the purse for the event will likely attract longboarders from around the Eastern and Western Cape and also further afield. First prize is R1 500, second R1000 and third R500, all sponsored by Sector 9. The value of other prizes amounts to over R10 000 and includes skating gear, wheels, knee pads, products and merchandise from Sector 9, Bos Ice Tea and Indi Skate.
The competition consists of three classes – open, ladies and groms – as well as the “Anything on Wheels” Fun Run. The open and ladies classes are open to all contestants over the age of 16 and will consist of three heats. The best 20 times will be entered into the final run. Skaters go down the course one at a time and will have three heats to log a best time that will be entered into the final. The groms class is for any contestants under the age of 16.
Skaters need to register on www.numbcity.co.za for the event and pay on the day a fee of R150 – which includes lunch for both days, an official t-shirt and entry.
The event takes place on March 30 and 31 on the Donkin Reserve. Day one features the heats leg of the competition, and on day two is the main occasion where skaters will vie for the top prizes and status as king of the Donkin. A full line-up of Redbull deejays will entertain the crowds and on Sunday, The Brothers, Hey Bang Dead and Cottonfields will entertain the crowds. Spectators can attend for free. If inclement weather is expected on either day, the event will be collapsed into one day, but announcements to that effect will be made in the media.
The MBDA Donkin Downhill Dash is sponsored by: MBDA, Sector 9, Bos Ice Tea, NMMU, Element, Nzoe Projects, Ibis Engineering Merchants, Indi Skate, The Brothers, Green Leaf Café and La Boca. Watch the promotional video at: https://vimeo.com/62255969
For more information, contact Jacques Nel at email@example.com or on 074 195 9169.
Media, please register via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
There have been quite a few reports recently of guys cars getting broken into or tampered with whilst they're out surfing. Fence, Millers and Pipe seem to be the hot-spots at the moment.
Etienne Potgieter, a Fence local, says he's noticed the last few times when he gets back from his surf it looks like someone's been fiddling with his surf-lock. No doubt hoping to strike the lucky combination that'll get them access to ET's keys...and hence his car.
A coupla months back Amba's boyfriend, had his car stolen from the Pipe car park. That has to be a super-kak feeling to walk back to where you know you left your car - and all that's staring back at you is an empty parking spot!
The lurkers have also been pretty active at Millers car park, with quite a few smash and grabs there over the last 4 months. Laptops, wallets, cell phones...whatever they could grab and run off with. Big Phil had his bakkie stolen from there a while back.
The question is.....why should we have to worry about our vehicle's safety every time we hit the water?
Durban seems to have it right. You can park your car safety anywhere in the North Beach, Durban Surf and New Pier parking lots. This area is patrolled by ‘The Guardian Angels’ who are a crew of well-known and organized car guards. These guys are so trusted that most local surfers would rather leave their keys with them than chance the old key-on-the-tyre trick.
So what are the chances of trying to get something like this working in PE?
There're a coupla challenges admittedly in replicating the Durban system. First and foremost is that our surf is fairly fickle - which means that the car parks at Pipe, Fence and Millers aren't going to be fill every day of the week. Durbs is blessed with warm water and pretty consistent surf, which means the guys are in the water most days - which makes it worth it for the car guards as they know they'll get good bucks there most days.
Pipe has a pretty regular car guard. But there's some debate amongst Pipe surfers as to how on the ball he is, seeing as a car got stolen from the car park whilst he was there. Flip side of the coin is always if someone threatens to bust your leg if you bust them, well, who's to argue?
As a surfing community we really need to make the effort to find some decent car guards and get them to police the car parks regularly. That way the locals get to know and trust them, and they can earn some bucks by making sure the guys cars are safe. Everyone wins.
Etienne has been to the Humewood police station to ask them to beef up their patrols along the beach front, but as a surfing community we also need to support our requests with some facts. It'd be a good start to know how many break-in's etc there've been at the car parks over the last 6 months.
So if you've had anyone bugger around with your car, or know of someone else who's had a problem, then drop a comment to the blog post just saying which car park and what happened. That way we can at least get the police a bit of a list about recent incidents to support our request for increased patrols.
Also, if anyone has some idea's as to how we can try get some regular trustworthy car guards at our surf spots - please leave a comment.
I've been on the hunt for vintage shots of PE surfing, and Gavin Rother had a coupla beauts to add to our collection. Gav’s a born n bred PE surfer, as local as local gets! Decided to catch up with him....
What got you into getting some fibreglass under your feet for the first time?
My younger brother, Tony, started it all. My folks got him a board, but it was more like an ironing board. We spent a day giving it a new coat of dark blue resin to make it look spiffy, but all we got was a board that weighed like 30 pounds, and resin coming out of our ears!! After that, we progressed to better boards and left the ding repairs to the pros! My first board was a Country Rhythm single fin pintail. Surfed it until it got deck lift.
Any good memories as a lightie?
I remember going to JBay when I was about 7 to watch Midget Farrelly surfing Point. He was World Champ at the time and it seemed like the whole of PE was there to check him out.
Before I had my own car, I used to have to catch the bus from Newton Park to varsity (having to switch buses in town). As we drove past Denville the one day, I saw the surf was pumping! So I jumped off the bus, ran across the road, and caught two busses home. Grabbed my board and bussed all the way back to the beach for a surf! No classes that day!
You were part of the UPE Surf Club – you guys must’ve had some kiff missions! Guessing that Seals was a regular stop-off?
Ja, UPE Surf Club was legendary in those early days. Andrew Honey was a prime mover on that score. I think we got Cheron started too cos we ordered team baggies from her!! We made many missions to Seals for Club contests. UPE even sponsored the transport AND prizes for our comps. One weekend, it was blown out by easterlies so myself, Peter May and Dave Charters helped ourselves to the prizes – we had more than a case of beer each cos no-one else turned up.
Of course, when we did have waves for a contest, we had like 30 guys sleeping in a hired house. SAU comps those days were epic as well, but I’d rather not go there!!
That shot of your boet in a dry suit is a beaut – what’s the story behind that!?
The drysuit – well, you get into it in the stomach area, and then tie a knot. You can blow yourself up to look like the Michelin man! Hectic. Difficult to surf in it though. I guess if you fart in it a lot, it also blows up like that. West Coast diamond divers used that trick to try stay warm!
The board he’s got there is a Larry Levin – it was a great twin fin and was under my feet when I had the barrel of my life in the Transkei. I can still recall dropping into this 8 foot wall of water, almost falling as I did a top turn and then just getting pitted on it for about 30 seconds or more. Haha! That was the proverbial magic board. Wonder where it is now - hopefully surfboad heaven. You can tell it is early 80s – lumo was in.
Diamond diver – means he musta had access to some restricted areas of virgin west coast….did he tell you about any gems hidden along that coastline?
Tony was in the old SA Navy when the okes could still swim, and when he left, he went diamond diving on the West Coast. I don’t think he found many places to surf cos it is pretty difficult to explore the coast when you are sitting on the seabed holding a huge vacuum cleaner all day and night!
I did make a trip up to Elands the one year, with Richard Rath and Peter Gilchrist. Well, we were royally skunked that trip. Not only was it about one foot for a week, but the wind blew the skin off our legs below the knees and we had to sleep in a sand dune – I think they said it was the camp site.
Anyway, once we had no skin left, we raced from Elands to Mossel Bay in about four hours – Volksies doing the business again – and surfed Outer Pool. That night was the start of the Laingsburg floods and we ended up sleeping in the baths at the Point Caravan Park cos the rest of the place was flooded! We literally had to save our boards from being washed away. It was quite a trip.
You wrote a classic piece for us a coupla years back about one of your Transkei trips. What got you amped to start making trips there?
My first trip – when I got the barrel – was in 1981 I think. I went with Peter May, Peter Gilchrist and three other guys who had just started surfing. As you can see in the photos, Volksies were the mode of transport again. And believe me the roads were no better than they are today. All we had in those days were pencil drawn maps from Andrew Honey. His folks owned a trading store in the TK somewhere, and he’d explored the area together with another PE local, Jonty Hansford. No GPS or Garmins in those days.
Lately, I have been going with Richard Rath, my son Andrew, and his friends (Brownie, Robbie, Spoen, Hubble and others) – you know, passing on the tradition. We have had some epic times away from the chicks, I mean crowds. No more camping though – we found our own country club house! With car guards.
Is it still a pretty safe spot to go on a surf mission – both in, and out, of the water?
Like I said, we now got car guards! But seriously, we just leave our valuables at the country club where it is safe with the kitchen engineers and leave our cars unlocked and windows open. Prevents unwanted broken glass, you see. There is nothing better than surfing with three or four of your best mates in cooking surf and then walking back along a deserted beach knowing the domestic help has made some lekka bread. Beats camping and being chased away by some Joburg prick who thinks he is the mayor of the tribal land. Actually the prick did us a favour cos now we stay in a country club and pee graffitti against his wall when we get back from surfing.
Any close encounters?
Luckily not really – only dolphins. Although I was riding a wave at Seals once when one of those other big fish swam under my board from the shore side!! Needless to say, I rode all the way to the beach and got out.
Any other spots that you’ve stamped your passport for with a board under your arm?
I did a fantastic trip to Madagascar with Peter May, Peter Gilchrist and Richard MacDonald in 2006. Flameballs is heavy especially if you don’t surf lefts a lot. JellyBabies is much softer but still a fun wave. We had a blast there – no electricity, no running water, great food and just a fantastic adventure. Want to go back for sure.
Have also been to Bali for my 25th wedding anniversary. Wife Sharon had to carry my board all the way from the hotel to Club Med so I could surf. She is such a trooper! Surfed a spot called Sri Lankas – great fun in boardies in 28 deg water. You know what it’s like hey! Surfing is living.
What’s still on the bucket list?
Well, I would like to surf all the places in the world that start with M. Done Madagascar, but think of all the others. Morocco, Maldives, Ments, Mexico. Not to mention the surf spots that start with M. Plenty of surf out there.
You’ve just got back from a stint in Saudi Arabia – I know PE’s flat, but eish – that place is worse! How’d you end up in the desert?
I was getting bored sitting at home having taken early retirement from the NMBM in 2011. Don’t get me wrong – I surfed plenty as well! Anyway, got this call just before Christmas from my boet Tony who works for a diving company. They were looking for someone to join their Logistics team in Khobar. Its near Bahrain – which is like Sin City to the Saudis!! Three weeks later I’m on a plane.
Spent 60 days there working 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Best part is getting paid in $$$$. Home now for six weeks to rest! I actually lost my tan in the desert. And it was cold. When I got there, it was 5 deg C!! But when I go back, it’s gonna be hitting 50 deg C!
So what your plans going forward? Gonna mix up the desert trips with some well-earned PE lurks in between?
Going back to Saudi for two weeks then two weeks in the States. My daughter is graduating from Boston University and my sister-in-law is getting married so can’t miss that! But after that, I will be commuting between Saudi and PE (or somewhere else maybe nudge nudge wink wink) on a six weekly basis.
My son, Andrew, is doing skippers course in Cape Town – maybe one day I can go crew on his yacht and have some epic sessions. I really enjoy surfing with him and his friends –it keeps me young. Jeez, I even did my first 360 recently because of them!
I would like to surf like Kelly Slater when I am 41! That guy is a phenom. And lastly, I would like to say thanks to you, ML, for pushing us kids to improve our surfing. The exposure you give to surfing in PE is great. Keep up the good work!
I fight my way through a haze of foam dust and whirring machines to find Dennis perched behind a bank of computer screens like a modern day Frankenstein. Except Dr D isn’t creating monsters, far from it. Bobby the Robot, under the ever watchful eye of Dr D, is spitting out cutting-edge, high-tech, wave-eating magic carpet rides. You DEFINITELY want one of these…
So Dr D, tell us where Bobby the Robot comes from
The shaping machine is actually originally from Clayton’s factory in Durbs. He moved outta SA, and Seals local Alistair Brown brought it down to Cape St Francis. He’s involved in blank distribution, so it made sense at the time for him to get this to shape the blanks he was supplying to the Seals, Jbay and PE shapers. I bought it from Alistair.
Must’ve damaged the piggy bank somewhat?
Let’s just say a new one costs around R300k! Thankfully Casey Beveridge put some cash into the project, which allowed me to go ahead and get the machine to PE.
Ok, give us the quick tour of how Bobby works.
If we’re making a normal board, it’s a case of putting on one of the pre-shaped blanks. If it’s an epoxy – then that’s a fair bit more work. The epoxy just comes in sheets. We have to first bend the sheet to get the rocker in, and then hot-wire the blank out of it.
The blank rests onto a bunch of suction cups in the centre of the machine, which are powered by a compressor –these hold the blank in place.
I switch the machine on – and the blank gets ground into shape by the quickly rotating bit attached to the horizontal arm. Top deck and outline first, then it’s flip the board over, and the bottom deck gets done.
The whole shaping machine process is about 15 minutes per board.
Then the board still gets finished off by hand, with some extra sanding and tweaking. Then it’s off for artwork, and finally glassing.
Now obviously Bobby doesn’t have a mind of his own – how does it know what to shape?
It’s all about the software. I’m using Shape 3D – which is what Al Merrick over at Channel Islands is using too. It’s basically an Autocad design program. It’s now the design process that takes the time, and not the actual shaping.
I’ve created templates for all my models, and the software has the ability to scale them up proportionately according to the size required. I can also do tweaks to the designs on the software, so the board is still as customised as you want it.
So is this the Holy Grail then? Can you replicate “magic’ boards?
Absolutely! That’s the beauty of this machine. I can now measure up your favourite board and put it on file. Which means once you’ve got that magic board, you can order it again, and again, and again. Want a pin tail on it instead of a squash, no problem. Just a tweak in the software and you’re good to go.
So is all this high-tech going to mean boards become more expensive?
No, I’m going to be absorbing the extra cost myself, so machine-shaped boards will stay the same price as the hand-shaped one’s.
I’d say there’re only about 4 other shapers globally that are doing epoxy boards on shaping machines. Myself, Stubby, and 2 guys over in Aus.
The epoxy blanks are all hand-made by us, and that’s where the technique and time come in. You’re looking at about 2 hours of pre-shaping before it goes onto the machine. That’s why the epoxy boards are more expensive than the traditional foam boards.
So what’s the benefit in going epoxy?
The boards are insanely strong. The blank itself is super-light, which means we can add more glass to it without worrying about it getting heavy. We don’t use stringers in them, which also helps keep the weight down.
The strength and stiffness comes from either the carbon rails, or channels. The channels are for the guys who don’t want the carbon. It’s basically small gutters running along the top deck just inside the rails.
An epoxy board could last you up to 7-8 years. This means instead of having to replace your magic board every 2 years cos it’s bust, creased or the deck’s collapsed… now your magic boards last – so you can rather build up a bit of a quiver.
I see you hover around Bobby like a proud dad – not ready to walk out the room and let him shape by himself yet?
Let’s just say there was the odd disaster when I first started – some wrong settings in the computer (cos I was still getting the hang of it) suddenly saw rails going a bit haywire etc! I’ll admit my hands were shaking when I let it loose on those first few blanks. As they’re costly errors to make!
But all good now! Bobby’s shaping like the machine he is!
I know you must wanna make a few shout-outs...
This is such a milestone for me personally as well as the Boardroom, I'd really like to the following people;
Thank you all!
WIN A CUSTOM BOARDROOM STICK!!
I'm going to put up a free custom board* to anyone who can come up with a crazy new Boardroom/Dennis Ellis logo for our new range.
Get those crayons and finger paints out! Comp ends 1 April and starts......now!
<CLICK HERE> to send in your designs
*Polyurethane board up to 6ft6
Here's an opinion piece from local surfer Jaryd Mason about the state of the summer line-up's. A perennial problem without a solution in sight it seems. Here's Jaryd's thoughts on the matter:
"This summer saw the usual increase in PE’s “surfing population”. Combined with a serious wave drought, Pipe has looked more like an “anything that floats contest” than a surf spot. Yea, you’re always going to get the surfing purist who will tell you that Pipe NEVER gets waves, but let’s face it, most of us surf there anyway!
So along with the crowds comes the odd kook or two, or in PE’s case, ten! These kooks come along with their weapons of mass destruction (flying surfboards) and huge egos in the water. Combine this with a lack of “surfing knowledge”, and you have a rather unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, situation. Surfing is by nature a dangerous sport, but it shouldn’t be a contact sport!
I’ve given writing this article for Millerslocal plenty of thought as have realised that it could a sensitive topic. I thought it’d be easy to write about, but it isn’t. Everyone has their own views/opinions on this. These are my views and I hope I don’t offend anyone by expressing them.
Tossing/shooting boards has become a regular sight in the water. Shooting a surf board at someone is WRONG and DANGEROUS! Surfboards are not footballs, you don’t shoot them! Even if you’re trying to avoid someone, don’t toss your board away. Shooting your board at an oncoming surfer is even worse, even if you think you’re doing it to try avoid a collision.
If you can’t duckdive, then Eskimo roll, or at least hold onto your board. If you can’t duckdive or Eskimo roll, you’re going to be a hazard in the water, and shouldn’t really be out at a busy surf spot. I reckon that other surfers have the right to ask someone to move if they’re a hazard, as it’s for the safety of everyone in the water. It’s actually pretty selfish if the hazardous surfer refuses to move as they’re putting other surfers at risk! Beginners need to respect that, and understand that they may be out of their depth and endangering everyone in the water, including themselves.
One of the worst things to do is to shoot your board at another surfer out of spite. Whether someone has dropped in on you or not, you should never intentionally shoot your board at them! I had a situation in the water the other day where someone tried to shoot his board at me cos he claimed that I was taking all the waves! The surfer who shot his board at me was way off the main peak and could barely surf. I think that people like that should have NO place in a line up!
I’ve chatted to some other local surfers about the lack of etiquette in PE’s breaks over the summer period. Most agree on the general lack of respect shown in the water and that “new surfers” don’t have the correct “surfing knowledge”.
I was lucky enough to have surfing as a school sport. It helped me understand what was wrong and right in the water. We were lectured by our coaches when we were out of line and by other surfers. I used to be so scared of the local surfers when I first started out (no names mentioned!).
I also had my fair share of mishaps and lectures from other surfers in the water. When I was about 15 I remember screaming at a surfer at Millers who had dropped in on me. He was about 50 or so and wasn’t having some random school kid give him attitude. Needless to say he shared a bit of his mind with me that day and I don’t think I’ve ever screamed at an older surfer since! In the end I think the tuning helped me learn my place in the line up. I wouldn’t dare snake someone older than me especially if they were a better surfer.
I saw dropping in as a kind of death sentence too! What worries me is that same respect no longer exists in the line up. I’m talking about is the respect beginners should have for more experienced surfers. The kind of respect which anyone should have for a more senior member of a sports team. The kind of respect which you should have for someone older than you! The respect you should have for local surfers if you’ve never surfed that spot before!I reckon that part of the reason for this lack of respect is that local surfers are not showing beginners the way.
It’s like raising a child and never telling them stealing is wrong. By explaining that stealing is wrong and by setting a good example they will respect you. The same goes for surfing rules and MANNERS!
Snaking is a massive issue in all line ups. Let’s face it, we all snake each other. Among friends snaking can be quite fun, especially when the waves aren’t good and there’s some good banter in the water. I’ll admit that I snake all the time! But here’s the thing which I found hard to write about...What do you do if someone who can’t surf well keeps snaking you? What do you do if you paddle past that surfer because they are not in the right spot for the wave and they tune you? Surely it’s a case of respect and the better surfer gets the wave?
There is such a fine line between being a wave hog and catching your fair share of waves. It is hard to judge and to figure out who is wrong or right, who is “allowed” more waves. I reckon that the people who surf a break all the time are entitled to a few more waves than the surfers who are new to the wave or new to the sport.
It’s how all breaks work, you could call it localism, but again there is a fine line between localism and respecting the locals at a spot! Back to my story about the guy who tuned me and tried shooting his board at me. He was nowhere near the main peak on the day. I’d say at least 10m away from the actual line up. Was I wrong to paddle past him all the time? In my opinion, if someone is not in the right place to catch a wave you have the right to paddle past them and sit in the actual line up. Especially if the other person can’t surf. I know that everyone won’t agree with me on this, but that’s just my opinion.
If you accidently drop in on someone or do something wrong then apologise. Everyone gets into bad situations at times and sincere apologies go a long way to preventing conflict in the water.
The only way beginners will learn how to behave in the water is if they get told when they are out of line. If they give attitude then well...I’m not one for violence, but then they deserve a fat klap! The only way we can keep breaks safe and orderly is if surfers take responsibility and ensure everyone out there knows what they’re doing! It sucks! But I don’t see any other way around this problem!
We can’t sit back and do nothing about this because then I think it will just get worse! So the next time someone drops in on you, shoots their board or deliberately snakes you. Let them know what they have done wrong!
By not correcting beginners things could get out of control at our surf breaks and people could get hurt. I know that as surfers we need to be chilled and laid back, but there is nothing chilled and laid back about getting stitches in your pip from a flying surfboard. It is the only way beginners will learn and you will be doing the rest of the line up a favour!
Let’s try help other surfers when we can, and make sure they learn the ins and outs of surfing, because in the end WE ALL LOVE SURFING!
I’m keen to hear people’s opinions on this. As I said, I may be wrong and I accept that. These are just my views."
Written by Jaryd Mason.
Check out the Surf Guide for a quick brush up on lineup etiquette.
I ran this classic sequence of vintage Denvils recently. Solid 6ft freight train barrels! Which is kinda ironic given that today Denvil’s is the “learn-to-surf” beach! I caught up with Malcolm Turner - the surfer in those shots, to find out a bit more about how good Denvils got back then - as well as to hear some great tales from back in the day. Like him witnessing one of the first surfs ever at Supers, catching chickens at the Beach Hotel with fishing rods; and finding mysto spots along the coast. Let's start with that Denvil sequence though....
How come you used to surf there so much?
In 1970 I was employed at the Oceanarium in charge of the dolphins. With lots of free time & being right on the spot, I was able to surf all the best days. Used to get perfect Fence and unbelievable body surfing at Humewood (no one rode boards there in those days). Denville had very little sand in those days and was a sort of semi point break. The take-off was outside the furthest rocks to the right and the wave would peel off towards the MacArthur wall. The day these shots were taken was one of the biggest and was holding up well in a strong offshore. Luckily one of the surfers was on hand to record it! The guy swimming out is Trevor Dalton one of my colleagues at the Oceanarium.
You were one of the first PE surfing crew – what got you into it?
When I started surfing in about 1966? (Could have been 65), there were quite a few surfers around, mainly associated with the two lifesaving clubs Kings Beach and Summerstrand. Guys rode polyurethane boards and some of the older lifesavers used canvas and wood surf skis. The surfers were split into 3 tribes; the Fence, Millers and Pollock guys, with Jeffrey’s being the neutral meeting ground. I was introduced to surfing by Durnford Paxton, a Summerstrand member so I gravitated towards the Pollock crowd.
Durnfords Uncle Trevor Gelderblom was keen on surfing and used to take us to the beach when the wind was right. There were only about 4 surfers in our school at that time. I remember Andrew Austin bunking school when the surf was up and one day the vice principle went down to call him out of the water! The school teachers were not too keen on surfing as it was not a team sport. I soon got hooked on the sport and bought my first board from Trevor for R80.00, it was #22 Seal Point board, a magnificent 9ft 6in three stringer with a nose and tail block.
You guys were amongst the first Saffa’s to surf Supers – take us through that story.
The PE surfers were regular visitors to Jeffrey’s and most surfed at the Surfer's Point (what we know as Point today). When it got good the better guys would surf Tubes. We never saw anyone ride at Supers or the “Point” as we called it then. We simply knew that when the “Point” started breaking we could expect a set at Surfers Point soon afterwards. The first time we ever saw anyone on the wave was Easter Weekend 1969. Keith Paull, a travelling Australian surfer was visiting Jeffrey’s and he had the latest “short Board’, a 7ft 6in plastic machine. We had never seen one before, and when we saw him riding what we now know as Supers, we (all 5 of us) got out of the water and watched him riding from the sand dune. The swell was glassy and medium sized.
A few days later a violent cold front came through and all the fishing boats had to seek shelter in the bay. Keith went out again, but this time the swells were a solid 12 ft. We sat in awe as he caught rides right through from Supers to almost the Point. Suddenly the Glomar Sirte drill ship came close into the “point” and proceeded to drop anchor, she was so close that we could hear the chains as she lay anchor. Two Australians jumped off the ship and paddled into the break and joined Keith!
I remember that they had rugby jerseys on and were wearing tennis shoes for traction! When I saw that they were riding 9ft 6in boards I decided that if they could do it, so could I. The other guys didn’t want to go out, so I went out on my 9ft 6in Ron Board, and caught some amazing waves. The rides were so long that after each wave we got out at Surfers Point and walked back to Supers as it became known. In June I went to the Army and when I got out in June 1970, quite a few surfers were starting to surf there, though it remained fairly uncrowded for the next 3 or 4 years.
Super’s used to be on a guy’s farm, right?
The whole area from Kabeljaauws River to opposite Super tubes parking spot was a farm. The first gate was just past the Kabeljaauws houses and the other gate was opposite the Supers Car Park. Since the 1950,s the farmer had established a camping ground close to Surfers Point, and the area was popular with shell collectors. The whole part along the coast was thick indigenous bush, and when out in the water you could smell the bush and see the odd monkey or buck on the beach. The only human activity was the shell brick factory opposite “Impossibles” and the donkey cart which collected the shell grit off the beach. There were also the famous octopus catchers who plied their trade at low tide.
My first trip to Jeffrey’s was in 1966, and I remember going through the gate with Durnford and his father in a bakkie and having to push the vehicle out of thick mud on a couple of occasions. When we got to Surfers Point we erected a huge bell tent and had the most fantastic 3 week holiday. Over the years we often camped there. I remember lots of PE locals who used to camp, such as Larry Levin, Gavin Rudolph, Mush Hyde, Buddha Horn, Jamie Cowie-Shaw, Dave Smith, Donald Bell, Hartland Wilson and others I can’t remember. When the surf was down we got up to all sorts of mischief.
Apparently Gavin Rudolph was quite good at fishing for chickens back then?
Suffice to say that the guys camping at Surfers Point were partial to grilled chicken every now and then, and a natural source of that delicacy was the “hok” behind the Beach Hotel. Some well-known surfers were adept at venturing out of a night and snaring them off their perches by means of a snare at the end of a fishing rod, if it was done properly the unfortunate bird did not have time to “squawk” but sometimes all hell broke loose and the staff were not impressed, resulting in an exciting dash to the beach in the dark!!. In the sixties Jeffrey’s consisted of two towns - Ferreira Town and Jeffrey’s, with a dirt road between them. One could hire horses from the farmer and ride into town. It was like a Wild West movie with the mayor sitting on his stoep in the main street and greeting us as we rode past. One day we galloped through town and were told to slow down.
You’re pioneered a few other spots too. Tell us a bit about surfing Tofinho in Moz back in the 70’s.
When in the army (State Presidents Guard 1969-1970) I made friends with the famous racing ace Kenny Gray. His folks had a house at Tofo Beach in Mozambique. We planned a trip up there and for four years I visited Tofo every June. I started surfing at the little point north of present day Tofinho which was a superb wave. In 1972 myself and the late Rob Berman took a trip up to Tofo in February, and while surfing at the point we saw the most amazing surf breaking in the next bay, which in those days was called “Goat Rock”.
When I went out to surf it, locals from a nearby native village came down to watch us and judging from their incredulous reaction we were almost certainly the first guys to surf there. The wave breaks close to a shallow sandstone ledge and gets incredibly hollow. In those days there were no houses on the point and the only way was to walk from Tofo Point or travel along a thick sand track. On our return to PE Rob passed away from cerebral malaria, which he picked up in St. Lucia, where we had slept on the beach. Mozambique in February is not a good place to be, the heat was almost unbearable.
There’s a shot of your classic old VW Kombi with a really short looking board on top, what was the story there?
That Kombi was a real old dog, but it took me to Beira once. Local surfers were quick to follow international trends and when the short board revolution started we simply cut our boards down. We also started using leashes. The board on the roof had about 2 ft. shaved off; boards became ridiculously short and then went back to a more respectable size. It is interesting to note the leash made of plaited ski rope, if you look at many old boards from the 70,s you will see the scars where the rope cut into the tail of the board. Later on we used surgical cord which had a bit of stretch but on a big wipe out it normally snapped.
Love the shot of your beach buggy overlooking the wild side at Seals. Were you doing some surf exploration?
Surfing was only one of my interests, and when there was no surf I used to look for and explore wrecks. In those days there was no bridge over the river, and to get to Seal Point you had to take the Oyster Bay road from Humansdorp and turn off onto the long road on the north side of the Kromme River. This shot was taken on one of those flat days and the bay is the site of my favourite wreck HMS OSPREY about 3 km west of Seal Point light. You can see my rudimentary salvage gear crammed in the back of my Kart Kraft buggy.
So you were into wreck diving. Anything interesting wrecked off our stretch of coast?
There are lots of great wrecks along our coast; the most valuable were the tin wrecks such as the L, AGILE a little west of Klippen Point. I dived on many wrecks in the PE area and found many interesting artefacts, many of which I still have. There are over 300 wrecks between Cape St Francis and Blue water Bay. Diving along the Kouga coast was extremely difficult due to the endless surf that that stretch of coast gets pounded with.
And find any secret spots whilst you were exploring the coast for wrecks?
The very nature of wreck sites make them good surf spots, I saw lots of potential surf spots such as the beautiful left which breaks over the OSPREY. I saw an incredible left breaking on Bird Island, plus many others probably never ridden. I often put my boat in danger and nearly lost it on a number of occasions. The worst experience was on the wreck of the LYNGENFJORD at Huisklip (west of Oyster Bay), when a huge clean-up set nearly swamped my boat! My surfing experience definitely came in handy when anchoring over wreck sites!
Still get into the water these days at all?
I try and surf most weekends, my favourite spot is upper Seal Point and in PE I like to go to Rincon. I enjoy Loch Ness in the winter when the berg wind blows. Currently riding a 7ft 8in board by Dennis Ellis. I also love body surfing when the water is warm; usually I go to Sards or Pollock. I don’t get all that many waves these days, but every now and then I get a good one and it’s a great feeling. Surfing has become very aggressive and egotistical, which is a contradiction to the true ethos of surfing - I'm more of a soul surfer!
Just love to be out in the water!
Thanks to Hans van de Haar for his kind assistance in digitizing the slides. If you need any slides turned into digital images - contact Hans <here>
For more of Malcolm's shots, and other classic images, check the Vintage section <here>
At last the longest flat spell in recent memory ended with some super fun waves in the bay. Everywhere from Rincon down through to Millers had line's pouring in non-stop from 1 - 3pm. Sheet glass, high tide overhead perfection, and hardly anyone out. Crowds filled in thick after school, and wave quality dropped as the tide dropped. But even then, there were some great waves to be had.
Some looooong rides went down at Millers. Most legendary was Greg Smith, who hooked not one, but two, waves from Chomp Rock all the way through to the sand at Hobie. On a shortboard! Respect.
Much of the Pipe crew pulled into Millers for a visit, as apparently Pipe was a big washing machine with a horrendous rip. The guys report getting solid waves up at Rincon. Avo's started to light up late evening as the tide dropped, and some seriously solid sets pulled through.
Quite a few ou's made JBay and Seals missions, and reckoned the surf was legit! Jorg says he had a few heavy wipes at Point - managing to air drop into a beating on a solid 8ft one. Reckons you couldn't duckdive the sets - too hectic. Says Tubes was outta control.
Here's a few random shots from the day - check out the photo gallery <here>
Saffa’s make for good exports. A hard work ethic normally makes sure the ou’s land good jobs when they bail for overseas. A good example is ex-local surfer Craig “Pottie” Potgieter. Pottie left for Aus a few years back, and headed up Lizzard over there for a while.
But the ou’s know a good thing when they see it, and Surfing Australia hunted him down and gave him the head honcho job at Surfing South Australia (SSA). The title was actually CEO, but Pottie being the humble ou that he is was a bit embarrassed by that, and decided he’d rather call himself General Manager instead!
So Pottie, tell us how you landed this primo job!?
I was doing a lot of coaching for SSA. They put on a major 6-Star Surf Comp on Kangaroo Island with a music festival. They lost a ton of cash and had to get bailed out financially by the Government. Management were let go and the media went into a frenzy. Kippie here walked into the office not knowing the scale of the drama and offered to help till a new management team could be put together. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, suddenly I was hounded by the press, news networks were interveiwing me I was thrown in the deep end! Tax payers were freaking about the bailout, the guys to blame were gone….. and I was left to tidy the mess! But all good, it’s sorted now. These positions aren’t long-term, so I expect to stay 3-4 years then move on.
Are you the first non-aussie to hold a position like this?
I think so. But the guys from Surfing Australia have been really supportive. I have a lot of support locally too, which helps. But yeah, I get the feeling sometimes that people probably wonder why a foreigner has the job.
What all does your job entail?
Lank! I deal with Government, Sponsors and many others at boardroom level. I deal with anything Surf-related in South Aus as we are the body responable for the sport. I run a Surf School and oversee many coaching programs from groms to elite (obviously with the assistance of a great team, including some top ex-professional surfers). We also have a pretty full calendar of contests. I still do a lot of coaching, because that's what I love. I also volunteer my time to take disabled and disadvantaged people surfing, it’s amazing how it lifts them.
Where’s your offices? Hopefully on the beach so you can still sneak in a lunch time sesh!
My office’s right at the beach! I also work from home a lot. We have bought a house close to the some good surf spots (just a run down the road), so I choose to work from home as much as possible. I do a lot of work on weekends and after hours, so if I work from home in the week I can sneak a couple of surfs in the day when nobody is around. I can surf whenever waves are pumping (fringe benefit). It’s part of my job to surf, and I get to spend time with our members. Its amazing how much discussion relating to the association takes place in the water.
Do you get to travel a bit for work? Any chance of taking the South Aus team for a bit of coaching in Indo or something?
I go to Coolangatta a lot as that is where Surfing Australia is based. Across the road from Snapper. I get a few surfs round that area. I also stay at the Surfing High Performance centre at Casuarina. This place is amazing. It is so hi-tech, absolutely crazy. No expense has been spared, google it. I love it there. There is this room full of boards which you can test drive. The place is awesome and worth a trip to if you ever in the area.
Surfing in Australia is a really legitimate sport, right up there with cricket and rugby. Guess that means you guys get some decent funding?
Yes, funding is pretty good. The sport is big and the government back us. I was at a function last week for Surfing Australia and the Deputy Prime Minister was there as well as the Sports Minister. They put heaps of cash into surfing and see surfing not only as a sport, but as a healthy lifestyle which they want to promote. We are lucky to have the government support because corporate funding has slowed down.
So how hectically crowded is the surf down your end of the world? Hustle central? Or can you find empty peaks without having to drive 1000k’s down the track?
I surf on my own so often, it’s crazy. It can get crowded but very similar to PE, but nothing like the East Coast. I honestly have not had a crazy crowded day in South Aus. We have plenty of surf. If we don't get surf in the gulf where I live it's a quick 30 minute trip to Victor Harbour which always has swell. You can go to Victor and there is about 50km of coastline with non stop breaks, it is something you have to see to believe. I often compare where we live to PE or the Eastern Cape. We have plenty quality surf but the publicity is up the East Coast, it can stay there we happy for all to believe the waves suck here, lots of sharks and cold water haha (water tem at the moment 23 degrees). Dave Lippy said to me before I left “….don’t worry Potz, the Great Aussie Bight has awesome waves you will be happy!” –he was right, he knows his shit!
I know you’re keen for PE ou’s to come pop past for a visit and doss on your coach for a few days – so tell us in a coupla sentences why your new home town is a lekker spot and worth a surf trip!
They are all welcome, we have plenty space. Walking distance to some awesome reefs. From here there are spots like Cactus (ask Dave Lippy or Donald Parman) and the Yorke Peninsula (Ask Andre Swart he has had plenty surfs there). Victor harbour is down the road and we are slap bag in the middle of the Aussie wine region. Its all good, we just need some visitors – Pull In!!!
Shot Craig! Good luck with your new post. Know you’ll do an excellent job!
Thanks Stay Cool!! Tell everyone I say Hi!
Great news that something good is happening at Something Good! Everyone is pretty familiar with the run-down takeaway spot in the car park at Avo's, and that some development has started there recently. Turns out the the old faithful is being given a new lease on life. I caught up with one of the developers, Grant Davies, to find out more...
I believe you guys are going to be developing the site. Can you tell us a bit about it?
At one stage before it was run down, Something Good Roadhouse was an icon, and we want to bring it back. And more. The existing structure is being upgraded, given a more modern façade and made more user friendly.
So what all will the development consist of?
By dividing it into 4 outlets we tried to cater for more people and able to offer the public more variety.
We believe that foremost this proposal is sustainable and it responds directly to the community’s needs in a relatively short space of time.
You mention a restaurant – what sort of restaurant are you going to be doing? Something flash or just toes-in-the-sand casual?
Definitely very casual – emphasis on good food at reasonable prices.
Any lil pub type area planned where the ou’s can sit and sip a cold one whilst watching the surf at Avo’s and Clubhouse?
The deck area (weather protected) will be perfect for a cold draught beer or choice of some local SA Craft Beers which are on the market. We have raised the deck for this reason and the views of Avalanche and Clubhouse are perfect.
Still going to have the road-house vibe going where guys in the car park can “flick their lights” for service?
Yip that’s the idea. People seem keen to start flicking their lights again!
Will the development be occupying the same area as the existing Something Good?
Yes – Our proposal was that we wouldn’t exceed the footprint of the existing structure and that is exactly what we have stuck to. We will also be removing the alien vegetation from the dune alongside the property and reinstating it with indigenous plants.
And are you guys going low-key and keeping it single story?
Yes, single storey – only difference is that the outside area is now also covered to provide protection from the elements.
Any ideas on what you’ll be calling it yet?
Something Good! We had a bunch of other names but kept coming back to it. Everyone remembers it and recalls the good old days. That’s what we want it to be about!
Great to see some investment happening on our beachfront - and that it's nice & low-key. Ou's are going to be stoked to be able to chill on the deck & grab a beer after a surf, or grab some post-surf chow without even having to get outta their car.
About 10 years ago I was flipping through an overseas surf mag and came to a stop at an insane double page line-up spread. Taken from high up a cliff looking down onto a horseshoe bay with gin clear water and a right point rifling down the reef. I certainly did a double-take when I saw it the spot was called Millers!
Obviously not our Millers, but a namesake in Indo. The internet wasn't what it is today a decade ago, so it took plenty of searching to discover where this was. And ever since I've plotted it on a map it's been on my bucket list of spots to surf. Cos besides being named after my favourite spot, it looks like a pretty nice damn wave. By Indo standards it's a mellow ride. Which means it won't kill you.
The shot that caught my attention doesn't seem to exist on the net - which is probably a blessing in disguise, else no doubt this hidden gem would be over-run with surf tourists. below is one of the few shots I've found of Millers #2. But here's a pretty decent shot of it by Paul Kennedy.
So how many other PE spots have got twins elsewhere in the world?
There's Fences in Taranaki, New Zealand (left), and Fence Posts in Northern Aus. Denvils has no equal elsewhere in the world - probably cos the name is an amalgamation of the 2 PE lifesavers that used to surf it, and after whom it was named! Suicides, which is that gnarly spot just behind the breakwater at Hummies, has a few cousins around the world. One in Aus, another in Hawaii (right)
There's a spot called the Pier in just about every coastal town, so no surprises there. Continuing south we get the Graveyard - which is the bottom section of Millers. Turns out that's a pretty popular name too. With Graveyards in Hawaii (below), New Zealand, Cuba...and even up the road in East London! Funny enough - all of them don;t quite live up to their Graveyard tag, being a lot less heavy than their name implies.
Then we get to Millers, which has a cousin in Indo...and a sister in Baja. Millers Landing to be precise. Just up the road from the famous Scorpion Bay - shown below (another on my bucket list of spots to surf). Said to be the 2nd longest wave in the world - and a sand-bottomed right point, who wouldn't want to go! Long as you don't mind the fact it's inconsistent as hell, and in the middle of the Mexican desert.
There's an Avalanche in France and one in Hawaii. On the other side of the rocks at Avo's is Gas Chambers, which has some pretty gnarly cousins in Puerto Rico (below) and Hawaii (2nd below).
That brings us to Pipe. Apparently there's quite a nice spot in Hawaii that goes by the same name. But rumour has it that our Pipe is a bit better than theirs...
The original Rincon is in The States. A pretty insane wave - but it has pretty insane crowds too. Easily over a 100 surfers crowd the line-up on good days. But a picture perfect right point.
So there we have it - most of PE's surf spots have got cousin's around the world.