Mike Mee's an ex-PE local (who’s now a Kiwi) sent in a bunch of cool old shots of PE and Jbay from back in the day. He has some flipping classic tales too. Take a read. Those were the days.....when ou's used to have to surf in rugby jerseys cos there were no wetsuits, you could hitch-hike to Jbay...and camp in ou's car-ports!
Just loving that shot of you and your boet thumbing it to Jbay. Run us through the whole hitching thing.
That shot was taken on our first JBay camping trip in the school holidays of April 1975. We were hitching from the corner store in the centre of town to Supertubes, as it was quite a long walk with boards. I think I was 14 at the time and Dave was only 12! Amazing how times have changed!
We did quite a few hitchhiking trips during school vacations to JBay or Vic Bay , although with boards it was always a bit of a mission. Often we hid the boards behind a fence or tree and when a car stopped, quickly retrieved them and tried to persude the driver to let us sqeeze them in!
On one occasion, it took us nearly 3 days to hike back from Vic Bay to PE. No doubt because of the boards, but probably due to looking rather feral, having just spent the week living rough in the bushes across the railway line at Vic Bay. On the first day of hitching home, we only made it to Knysna and had to sleep under a bridge on the outskirts of town. Not that we actually got much sleep! In the middle of the night, some locals started having a fight on the bridge above us, so terrified we crept into the furthest corner ready to flee!
Did you used to camp out at Jbay at all?
We camped at JBay quite often as school kids, staying in the campground a few times. Often, however, we just camped in the bushes (now houses!) just to the right of Supertubes, as that saved the hassle of hitching or a long walk to the surf every day.
Your one shot is of the Jeffries Baai Vakansie Oord! Where was that!?
On our first trip to JBay, dad dropped us off at the Jefferies Baai Vakansie Oord, which was on the road to Humansdorp, a few blocks up the hill from the centre of town. Probably a housing estate now? We pitched our tent under clear skies only to be woken by a massive storm that night, which thoroughly drenched everything. Even the labels washed off our tins of food! In fact the old Afrikaaner lady who owned the campground felt so sorry for us, that she upgraded us to a rondavel the next day. In the morning we scrouged some black plastic rubbish bags from the shop and used them to line our wet sleeping bags.
A year later, we were bush camping at Supers and after a few days were feeling rather filthy so we decided to sneak into the Oord (as we called it) and have a hot shower. Unfortunately the campground owner, the old Afrikaaner lady, saw us wander in. Midway through our shower, she burst into the mens change room and turned off the hot water. Then she started yelling in Afrikaans " Julle is nie van hier nie," and that she was going to call the police. I tied a towel around my waist and I signaled to Dave, in the next cubicle, that we had better to make a run for it. Unfortunately his gear was in the foyer, so he had to run past the old woman kaalgat! Unluckily for him, she had a leather belt and whipped him a few times as he ran past, trying to retrieve his clothes. She then proceeded to chase us through the camp ground yelling like a banshee. Finally we escaped and Dave managed to put some clothes on! We then hid in the bushes for about an hour as we were worried that the police would find us!
On another occasion, a mate's dad said that we could camp under the carport at their JBay beach house near Albatros, as they weren't using it that week. Four of us were dropped off at by one of the dads. Stoked at our relative luxury, we pitched a tent in the carport, gathered some firewood and started a nice braai. Just as we were sitting down to eat our boerewors, a car pulled up and strangely the occupants just sat and stared at us for about 5 minutes.
We thought this was a bit weird but then they left so we continued eating our meal. However, twenty minutes later, a cop van and the same car arrived and threatened to arrest us for squatting! We told the cops that we had permission to camp there, which provoked the car driver to start screaming at us in unintelligible Afrikaans! It then dawned on us; we were at the wrong house! After a grovelling apology for our mistake and telling the senior cop that we thought it was Dr Finestone's house, (whom thankfully he knew) he relented. He then pointed out the correct house, also with a white fence and carport, but a bit further down the road. We actually scored some really good surf at Albatross that holiday.
JBay obviously got well and truly into your blood, cos there’s a coupla shots there of you and your boet on some really solid surf. What were you guys riding out there?
My first JBay board was a 7’ single fin. I think I sold that one to Grant Myrdal, who was a young grom at the time. A year later for a birthday/Christmas present I was given a really cool 6’10 pink double winger, channel bottom, pintail shaped by Larry Levin. (He was always happy to let us watch him shape boards and fixed a few dings for us) A couple of years later the boards got shorter and I got into twin fins and stuck with them ages. I rode a couple of really good Glen D’Arcy designs. Even when thrusters were popular, I stuck with my twins. Dave got into thrusters a lot earlier than me, probably because as a goofy footer, they seemed better suited to backhand on the bigger days.
Any memorable sessions out there?
Probably that first day of our first surf trip. Thinking about it, we were just kids and it was probably a bit reckless of dad to let us go to JBay on our own. The massive storm front which drenched us the previous night, brought with it surf, which we could hear crashing in the distance.
On hiking to Supers, we encountered waves far bigger than we had ever seen before. Although terrified, but spurred on by youthful enthusiasm, we decided to paddle out. After waiting on the rocks for probably 45 minutes, watching unrelenting sets pour through, we finally leapt in. Although swept half way down the point, I finally made it out. Dave, who was only 12 years old at the time, gave a valiant attempt, but didn't quite get there. After 2 hours of sitting miles out and berating myself for being a big wuss, I finally plucked up courage to catch a wave. Or more precisely took off on a huge closeout, got thoroughly beat up and nearly drowned. Some what demoralized, freezing cold and completely knackered, we hitched back to our sodden tent.
However, the next day the surf dropped to a clean 4 -6 feet and stayed that way for most of the week. A week later when dad picked us up, we were totally surfed out, but stoked beyond belief, having had the best waves of our lives. From then on every school and university vacation was spent on surf trips up and down the coast.
My best ever session at JBay was on a solid 10 ft day and I scored a wave which I will probably remember on my deathbed! Boneyards through to the end of Tubes, with an insane barrel across Impossibles. I didn’t quite make it into Point, probably because my legs were too tried to pump! Although I did see Shaun Tomson make it the whole way through from Boneyards to the end of Point later that day.
Who were the crew that used to surf with in PE, and where was your local spot?
We started surfing as kids with our dad at Cape Recife Lighthouse. Our first board was his old longboard cut in half with the ends rounded off. As the older brother I got the longer back piece and Dave the shorter front end. His board's fin wasn't put in straight to it and made this weird buzzing sound as it went along! Cape Recife was a good spot to learn, but in this pre-leash era, a bloody long swim to shore if you lost your board.
As teenagers, the main crew we used to hang with were, the late Bryan Knowles, Steve McKechnie, Martin Haynes, Dave Collins, & Jason Marais. Pete McAinch came along a little later and we taught him how to surf old school style! We'd drag him out in some quite big waves telling him it was only 4 foot! Rincon was probably our favorite spot as it was often bigger than the other PE breaks and had very few crowds. Although we also surfed Pipe, Avalanche, Millers (when it broke!) were also keen on a lot of the Wildside breaks like Secrets, Lookout, Noordhoek, etc. Our crew was known as the bushmen by some of the guys, as we often made fires on the beach after a surf, a habit from our early pre-wetsuit, rugby jersey era.
Love the Pipe crew shot, plenty of legends there. When did that transition from the short boards back to into the longboards again happen? Did the guys ride both, or was it a case of guys trading in the shortboard for the longboard permanently?
I found my dad’s old longboard lying under the house in ’85 and just started fooling around on in when the surf was small (quite often in PE!) Steve McKechnie got quite keen on the idea and suddenly all these long boards were being dug out and a sort of longboard revival began. Most of that crew rode both long and short, but a few changed permanently to long boards. Nowdays I am still mainly riding a short board, but enjoy a longboard on smaller days or on fat, slower waves.
Despite being a ballie now you’ll still a full-on surf grom – see you did a recent trip to the Ment’s where you guys scored some solid surf!
We've actually done Ments for the last four years in a row. Having surfed JBay as good as it gets, it is still my favorite wave, however Rifles, a barrelling right, is a pretty close second. Mentawai surf is ridiculously consistent and of my 40 days there, I’ve only missed 3, due to a broken foot bone! Fin v foot in a wipeout at Hideaways!
Being a natural footer, the big sucky lefts like Hideaways, E Bay and the freight train, Nokandui are pretty scary once they get over head high. However my brother Dave, a goofy footer, is in surf heaven on these breaks and is still charging pretty hard. Thus said, he has donated a bit of skin! There are also some pretty cruisy waves like the ever reliable 4 Bobs staight out in front of Kandui resort, as well as a perennial favorite, a mellow left called Beng Beng.
You’ve got this Masters of the Mentawaii thing going, what’s that all about?
The Masters of Mentawai came off the back of the initial trip my brother and I took in 2009 to celebrate 50th my birthday (and before we got too old and decrepit to do this sort of thing!) We were so stoked after this trip that I jokingly suggested to Dave that since he runs an event company, he should organize an event which would give us an excuse to come back year after year. He thought this was a great idea and so he now hires the whole of Kandui Resort resort for 10 days. The aim is to get a bunch of like-minded, over 40’s surfers together and provide a fun, low stress surf trip with unlimited free surfing and the beauty of escaping the New Zealand winter. So we basically surf non-stop all day, and in the evenings chill out playing guitar, listening to music and watching the daily surf sessions pics, and enjoying the local drop, Bintang. The Mentawai Islands are awesome because they cater to all surfing abilities and being islands, within half an hour of the resort, somewhere is always offshore!
So this August (3- 13th) we are back again. We still have some slots open for this trip so if anyone wants to come along, contact James Calver at email@example.com You can also check out Masters of Mentawai page on Facebook for details
You’ve even written a book about it?
Earlier this year I decided to pull together some of the great footage from 4 years worth of Ments trips into a coffee table book for the guys called, Masters of Mentawai – a surfing odyssey. It took ages to compile, but I am stoked with the outcome, however I don’t think I will be able to retire on the royalties from it! The link for it is:
So you moved from the land of the right to the land of the left! NZ is pretty famous for Raglan, but any other decent surf that should get us booking a ticket over?
New Zealand has some really good surf and because of the length of coastline, no doubt some undiscovered stuff. In addition to Raglan, my favorite breaks include Shipwrecks Bay (a world class series of left hand points), Whangamata Bar ( mechanical barreling left hand bar), Whangapoua Bar (ditto but a right), Port Waikato Reef and Goat Island Reef. The Taranaki and Gisborne coasts have stacks of quality surf spots. I haven’t surfed the South Island much but the Dunedin region has a lot of surf, but is Cape Town cold! The Upper North Island has similar water temperature to PE, and only a few, well fed, friendly sharks. Other than Raglan and some of the Auckland breaks, crowds aren’t really much of hassle and to be honest, the Kiwis are quite friendly in the water. Far more chilled than our Australian cousins.
Last question – you a Bok or a Black?
Still a Bok, but we really need some wins as I have been taking a bit of flack these past few years!
PE peeps Barry & Greg Heasley, Dieter Kuhn, Karl Walton, Peter May and Randle Davey made a mission over to the Maldives recently. We actually bumped into them for a day or so whilst we were over there too. The guys scored some perfect sessions at one of the best rights in the islands before the monsoon set in for the last few days of their trip.
The water was so glassy on this sesh that it was impossible to even read the curve of the wave - cos you couldn't see it. The wave starts out back on the reef, and then horse-shoes around a 90 degree bend in the reef - throwing up a big peaky barrel whilst it does so, and then barrels off at a 100 miles an hour down the rest of the reef. Lock in and just gun it. Shallow as shiz after the bend, but worth any scrapes you might pick up as a consequence.
The Kappies are always on about Dungeons and Sunset and all these kiff big-wave spots they have. Well, guess what: PE has some slabs of it's own too. Maybe spots that only very few ou's have actually ridden, but they are there. You just have to be brave (or stupid) enough to take them on.
The obvious one stares us right in the face. We've all seen the Bell Bouy throw some pretty massive peaks when the swell is running. I remember ex-PE charger Jason van Greunen paddling out there on a huge day. First he had to punch through some massive shore-pounds at Pollock, and then make the 2.4km paddle all the way out there in wild sea's. All this before even trying to hook a wave. Out there alone. In the middle of the ocean. No support craft, no buddies, no nothing. Crazy ou!
The Bell Bouy marks a submerged reef north of Cape Recife that was originally named Dispatch Rock. NOt a bad name considering it could dispatch you to your maker if you got caught out there! It lies only 3m below the surface at low tide. In 1843 the buoy was placed on it, and the notice alerting mariners to it was placed in the Government Gazette naming it Roman Rock.
This reef is also known as Roman Rocks due to the large number of red roman fish that are found here. But surfers have always just called it Bell Bouy.
Duncan Scott and crew have towed into it a coupla times, but as far as I know there isn't any shots of anyone on a wave out there. Anyone volunteering? That huge WSW swell pulling past the bay on Sunday might just light it up!?
The other slab will remain a lil more secretive. Not that there should be too much concern about exposing it. It's a bitch to get to, and the locals are kinda nasty. Pity - cos it's a really legit looking slab. It's on the opposite side of the bay to the Bell Bouy and prefers an easterly swell. Offering up clean left walls in a west wind that barrel off for 50-100m after the peak. The only barrel in Algoa Bay that spits.....properly.
Swells come out of deep deep water and unload on a shallow rock shelf about 300m from shore. You're out there as part of the food chain, and there's plenty of water moving about due to some gnarly currents. But if you can dodge the locals, and scratch yourself into a peak....it's game on!
Has anyone surfed it yet? Not likely, although a coupla peeps have had the good fortune to sit on the shore and mind surf it. Let's hope some mad crew decide to have a stab at it some time in the future!
JBU Surf Club is proud to announce the Jeffreys Bay Winter Fest, an extreme sports festival set in Jeffreys Bay and environs, and anchored by the Surfing South Africa sanctioned Jeffreys Bay Open Of Surfing. The Jeffreys Bay Winter Fest is set to include a mountain biking race, a skating event, an open water swim challenge, a running event and music, and promises to be an exciting week for the town of Jeffreys Bay.
"We're just happy to be able to facilitate such an event for the town of Jeffreys Bay," said JBU Surf Club Chairperson Arthur Joubert. "We're also very proud to witness the local surf community of Jeffreys Bay embrace it in such a positive way in its inaugural year when it is basically a small and untested event, but we are determined to make it a great success. This year will be the first of many Winter Fests, and our festival will grow from strength to strength each year."
The key tournament of the Winter Fest will be the Jeffreys Bay Open Of Surfing presented by Billabong, an invite-only Pro Surf Tour specialty surfing competition that has been sanctioned by Surfing South Africa, the governing body of the sport in South Africa. Proceeds from the entry fees will go to The Supertubes Surfing Foundation.
Surfers who want to compete in this contest are reminded to go the event Facebook page Jeffreys Bay Open Of Surfing and put their name down as a possible entry. Entries close on 10 June. The JBU Club, together with Surfing South Africa, will then select the 64 men and 8 women for the event, as well as an alternate list. If you get invited, the registration process and entry fee payment will take place on the Surfing South Africa website
www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za here SSA
Instructions on how to enter will be on your invite. All successful candidates will be required to affiliate as members of the Surfing South Africa PST. Details of how to join the PST are available on www.surfingsouthafrica.co.za
One surfer who is no stranger to the perfect walls of Jeffreys Bay is Cape Town based surfer and giant killer Sean Holmes. Affectionately known as 'The Nemesis' as a result of former world champion - beating performances, Sean is excited about this contest. "I think it's pretty awesome that the town of Jeffreys Bay has come together to present this event for 2013," said Holmes. "It's a positive thing that local surfers have the opportunity to come down with their familes and present themselves and their surfing on one of the best waves in the world. I'm really looking forward to this event, I just hope I crack the nod from the contest organisers."
Jonty Hansford has some cool stuff in his vintage photo collection, including this copy of a Huisgenoot article on JBay from June 1970!! It was all about the beach squatting surfers that were setting up camp in the bushes on the dunes at Supers. Lighties with an average age of 22 were just pulling in, setting up their tents, and living the dream. Which confused the hang outta the conservative townsfolk!
Check out Larry Levin as a 20yr old surf rat in the first pic, together with Robin Mair in their surfboard factory. Robbie Ponting and Ken Freeland, also shapers from back in the day are on pg2.
If your Afrikaans is up to speed, you can read the whole article by downloading the pdf below, cos it's a pretty cool insight into the early days at JBay.
Warri dropped me a text to say him & Brett were going to be hitting the skatepark, so I cruised along with the camera. Brett hit the deck...hard...within the first minute, and managed to pop open his elbow a proper shot. Some nice lil blobs of blood dotted over the crash zone. Quick running repairs with a dodgy looking bit of make-shift bandage and he was on the board again in no time. After shooting the guys for an hour must say am super amped to come try the park out myself (ignoring the fact that I can't skate for sh*t). Decent alternative for when the surf is flat. Which is often....
Still on my mission to track down old shots of our beachfront and surfing from back in the day. My quest led me to Dr Peter Schwartz, who has the most incredible collection of shots of PE's beachfront from the 70's onwards, plus a quite few from the museum archives There's so many good 'un's that I'll be putting them up on a beach per beach basis. So let's start with Hummies...
Thanks for sharing your collection Peter, stoked!
Jonty recalls the beach having a lot more sand back in the 70's, with ropes being really close to shore at low tide. It made surfing at high tide a bit of a lotto though. Apparently you just suddenly heard this whooshing sound coming toward you - and you knew it meant it was the rope slicing through the face of the wave. Plenty guys apgot axed by that rope! Musta been funny to see, but not so funny if you were the one getting guillotined! Rumour has it that Barry Heasley was one of the unlucky one's!
Turtle Morris remembers seeing some dude hung out to dry on it - he'd bailed on the wave, and his board ended up on the other side of the rope to him - so he was left dangling by his leash!
Ah, those musta been the days!
Dig to see more vintage pics - check out the Vintage section here.
PE surfers Joe van der Linden and Etienne Venter, together with their band The Brothers, are launching their new album Black & White at the Little Theater on Friday 31 May. Pull in for an absolutely stomping evening with the bro's.
Book your tickets here. Even better - add the words "Millers Local" before you write your name when booking....and you get a FREE CD at the door! Kiff!!
The show starts at 8pm, bring ya dancing shoes....cos these ou's ROCK!
Cool sh*t just turns up randomly sometimes. I'd bummed a board from Greg Smith a while ago when my electricity went out and I couldn't get into my garage. I dug the board so much I ordered one. Popped round last week to see how the shaping was coming on. Got chatting and ended up discovering Greg had a box full of Jonty Hansford's old surf photo's. Bingo. Another kiff walk down memory lane.....
Yrrr, there were some blerrie big waves that unloaded on the reef at Teahupoo in the last coupla days. Like the type that'll smash you into lil itsy bitsy pieces of fish food if you get caught inside. The ou's are calling it bigger than the Code Red swell of a few years back. I dunno. But either way it was just bloody mental. Check it out...