Ask any East Cape surfer which wind they hate and it'll be the Devil Wind. The north west is the curse of all the premier surf spots in PE and JBay. It's a horrid cross shore that blows sideways up the wave face and turns a decent wave into a trip down a washboard dirt road. Bump bump bump bump gatvol.
Many a solid winter swell has been ruined by the ravages of the north. Utter punishment to watch good waves being decimated. Calling it a Devil Wind seems most appropriate. Not sure who coined the term, but it does seem to be of East Cape origin.
JBay handles it a little better than PE, but you're still going to have to keep those knees bent to absorb the chatter. Crouch and go. And yes, there are a few hidden corners that can deal with a NW, but anyone keen to take them on in a 6ft groundswell?
So why are we so cursed? Blame it on the Berg winds - those fiends that blow down from the mountains. The winds are channeled by the mountain ranges just inland and swoop down through the valleys. In Jbay they get funneled between the Groot Winterhoek and the Klipfonteinberg. The angle of the valley actually amplifies the northerly component (see below).
The Berg winds are usually associated with pre-frontal conditions. If a coastal low is developing off Cape Town the barometer drops, and hot air from the Kalahari (our semi-desert interior) is sucked down off the plateau to the coast and into the low pressure system.
So basically you have descending winds from a high pressure cell that has developed in the north eastern interior. For all the weather purists who'd like to be able to spot it on a synoptic chart, look for this.
The winds often mimic the temperature of the interior - so in summer the NW will feel like someone's blowing you with a hairdryer, but in winter - with much cooler temperatures inland, it can send an icy chill down your spine.
The longer the devil winds blow, the more they super-charge the storm. A deeper low means stronger winds, and stronger winds make bigger waves. So there may be a silver lining after all! Once the front arrives - the wind swings to the SW, and everyone starts smiling again.
But yrrr, we still hate the bloody things....
Winter finally arrived last week. The barometer dropped, the wind pomped, and there were waves if you went looking for them. There were even a few in the bay if you weren't too fussy. But the bay with the J definitely got the pick of the surf locally. However, it was Donkey Bay that was the stand-out. Everyone, their dog and the kitchen sink made the trip up the west coast, and they were roundly rewarded.
But as life goes, you have to pay to play. And there were plenty payments being handed down among the barrels of your life. Ex-PE local Granville West aka Granny, got a proper flogging on a late drop. Gotto love how everyone always laughs for a wipeout. And then some ou's make the drop - and get shacked so badly off their pip they'll probbaly never be the same agin. Like Matt Bromley. Check it all out below.
With Sundays expected swell failing to arrive timeously, those who'd planned on surfing the whole day had to come up with other things to pass the time. Michal du Plessis came up with some ingenious GoPro mounts that cost him nothing much more than a trip to Builders Warehouse and change from a R100. A lightweight handgrip made outta surfboard foam with a some pvc pipe stoppers and a bit of cork, and a kiff skateboard mount made from a hand-clamp and a bolt. Looking forward to the shots now....
The first day of winter dawned with a rainbow - so here's hoping that is a good omen. It should be judging by the start of the swell season last week and later this week also looks good. The only challenge of winter is the wind. Dean Simpson aka Porp found out the hard way that roof straps have gotto be on really tight unless you want the board to part ways with the car. Which on this occasion it did...and ended up badly for the board. RIP Yellow.
The sunrises and sunsets last week were pretty spectacular. And outshone the waves by a long way. Here's hoping that the wave quality up's it's game this week and we have more shots of the surf than the sun!
As if on cue, the waves started to pull through at last light late Sunday arvo. Unfortunately the wind was still tearing it apart and wasn't worth the quick 30 minute get wet for what would have been super bumpy conditions. Of course this morning see's the left over swell getting ruined by the NW. Just another typical Monday in the Bay.