Late last year I finally got gatvol of wax. "Gatvol" is a wonderful Afrikaans expression meaning completely fed up. And fed up I was. Wax sticking to my boardshorts. Wax melting in my boardbag. Having to swap cold water wax for warm water wax when I traveled. Wax obscuring my cool board design. Dirty wax from my booties. That was it. I was done with wax.
So a bit of googling turned up RSPro Hexatraction - and their awesome see-through deck grip and cork traction pads. Soon I was hooked up with some products and was ready to ride waxless. And what a joy it was! You can check out my initial review of Hexatraction here
But as with all new things - does the spark last - or does it fade? So here I am 6 months later to tell you this stuff still rocks as much as it did the day it first went on my board. I am absolutely and truly converted to a wax-free surfing life.
I knew it worked a treat in cool water at my home break, but would it still tick the boxes on a 6 week surf trip in Indo? Yip - happy to report it did just that. I bought some extra grip to sticker up my husbands board as well, and he also loved it. Super grippy, no hassle of having to re-wax after every session (cos the tropics are good at sucking wax off your board in a flash), no messing up your nice boardshorts with sticky wax.
Best of all it didn't even rash your chest up at all - he did a 4 hour bare-chested sesh without any hint of a rash. And for those who love their front grips - the RSPro cork traction is definitely a winner. Specially for a rash-free surf, but also super-light whilst still being super grippy.
Indo's tropical reefs are a tad carniverous, so it's easy to get rail dings on your boards. I'd seen the rail tape that RSPro was selling and decided to try some of that out too. It was a wee bit tricky to apply cos it's hard to keep it tracking straight as you glue it down the rail. But a coupla adjustments here and there and it was good to go. Hubby can be a bit of a crash-test dummy at times (loves riding waves until they end up on dry reef!) and the rail tape definitely protected his board from the usual bumps and dings. Also great for when you transporting your board from surf to beach in the dingy.
Have suggested to RSPro to put a few notches in the rail tape to allow for slight direction adjustments during application, so hopefully they consider that for future editions.
Also hope that they soon come out with a cork back grip, cos that will be just next level. Normal deck grip chows your knees and your wettie, and the cork front deckgrip is so much more forgiving on skin and suits alike, that once they get the back grip out it's game-on.
I'm stoked to report back that the RSPro hexatraction and cork deck grip are both still performing awesomely 6 months later, still as grippy as ever, perfectly stuck to my deck - no hint of peeling off, and still super clean. You really have to seriously consider going waxless, it'll change your surfing life!
Check out your local surf shop for stock (In PE Surf Centre has some in store), or tune Deon Bosman here, the local South African distributor - he can send you some. If you're overseas, then just grab your from the RSPro website.
Trust me - you won't be sorry!
Pretty mediocre week as far as surf went. Things were meant to hot up over the weekend with weather warnings and the charts calling for big surf. But was a bust on both fronts. No real storms, no real waves in the bay. You could have got lucky if traveled west, but if you stayed put there wasn't too much on offer.
The winter solstice has passed, so we're officially heading in to summer. Which is a bit of a pity cos winter hasn't delivered any swell yet. A coupla solid days but bogger all in between. Maybe with crime being so rife in the country these days the ou's are stealing the waves too?
There's always something on the wild side, even the seagulls were getting barreled it seems.
Lekker shot of Josh Saunders charging big JBay from a few weeks back came across my desk. At least Supers hasn't been suffering quite the same wave drought as we have.
Boneyards ain't called Boneyards for nothing. Bone crunching waves heave through waiting to unload on unsuspecting boards and bodies. It's pretty good entertainment watching that stretch of the golden mile. Bit like the surfing equivalent of stock car racing - you go to watch the crashes not the ride!
Sardina Bay is one of PE's prettiest beaches, and can also hide away some good waves on occasion for those willing to trek across the sand. It's also a fairly wild stretch of coastline and local surfer Jurg Brand got to say howzit to a 2m Great White which popped up next to him. Nothing like eyeballing a finned friend to make you hightail it to the beach!
JBay is starting it's metamorphosis into the mini Surf City in preparation for the upcoming Corona Open. The CT event kicks off in early July so expect the pro's to be pulling in soon now that the Rio event has ended.
Small waves and desperate surfers often mean Pipe can be an intense grovel fest. Which in turn can lead to some gnarly situations. Andre Clarke was the unlucky recipient in a comedy of errors. Guy trying to go right got dropped in on by 2 other mullets, so he veered off left - only to discover Andre in his path, and neither surfer had any option for avoiding the collision. Andre tried to duck dive but still got ridden over like a snail crossing a highway.
Nice fin thump on the thigh that cut through the wettie and popped the guys fin out his board, and a nick on the heel. Just another day at the Pipe!
Luc Hosten got a lekker shot of a moon ring, as Luc explains: "Interesting halo around the moon last night in Schoenies, Google said this: Rings around the Moon are caused when moonlight passes through thin clouds of ice crystals high in Earth's atmosphere. As moonlight passes through the ice crystals, it is bent in a way similar to light passing through a lens. The shape of the ice crystals causes the moonlight to be focused into a ring."
Clive Wright out in St Francis captured a moon set. Which is a whole lot neater than a sunset! Pretty awesome whats possible with modern camera's these days - if you know how to use them that is. Clive definitely does.
The next of the City Surf Series went down in good surf at Vic Bay over the weekend. Bianca and Slade took the titles.
You have to wonder at the lil lifesaving towers we have installed on our beaches. At only about 3ft above the sand they don't exactly give a huge additional viewing platform to be able to spot ocean users in trouble. Anyone remember the red wooden lifesaving towers we used to have?
You can check out more vintage beach shots like these of PE and surrounds in the Vintage section of the website.
It was very sad to hear this week that one of the regular Millers Locals, Mark Difford, is severely ill with cancer. Mark had been out the water since last October after catching a nasty bug whilst surfing after heavy rains near the storm water drain at the bottom of Millers. This illness masked an underlying pancreatic cancer which was only discovered recently. It is unlikely Mark will ever surf again. So every time you're standing in the car park wondering whether you should bother getting in for a surf, do so, and go catch a wave for all those that can no longer go for a surf. Sending plenty of positive vibes and prayers to Mark and his family during these challenging times. If you'd like to send Mark some well wishes you can drop me an email here and I'll pass them on.
Charts don't look like much for the week. Just a bit of something for the weekend again. But even if it's miff and onshore, grab a wave when you can. You never know when you might not be able to get in the water again.
A few waves here and there - with Thursday being pick of the bunch. Vrek cold though. Andre Venter reckon first time since 1976 he's had an ice cream headache from ducking at Pipe. Might also be a consequence of age-related hair-loss too though!
Thursday saw waves at all the bay breaks, so you could pick and choose. Luc got some lekker shots from Avos' and Pipe which you can check out here:
Also a few scraggly one's on the weekend - and Heather got some cool shots of the surf at Pipe. Check those one's out here:
The fairer sex was ripping at Supers during the week. USA's #1 U16 Kirra Pinkerton was tearing the wall to shreds as her warm up for the SA OPEN OF SURFING comp in PE this week. Maybe someone should have pointed out to her that Pipe in PE vs Super Tubes are two very disparate waves!
The VW SA Open kicks off on Thursday this week at Pipe - and there actually should be some contestable waves amazingly enough. Just depends on what the wind gets up to though. Pull in to check out some really good surfing.
Last weeks article by Gustav about the big day in January unearthed a few more big wave shots from the past. Showing that PE does go off...sometimes.
A great opportunity this week to check out some of the best East Cape surf shots by one of the regions premier surf photographers Kody McGregor Photography. Pull in for his latest photographic exhibition: "What we know, is never settled". This Thursday 13 June at 6pm.
An art exhibit that delves into his surf archives, Kody brings you a glimpse of some of his images from the past couple of years. Focusing on the unpredictability of the sea and the relationship of surfers to it, the photographs attempt to speak on a deeper level than just the simple idea of humans and the ocean.
The Kindred Kitchen is the host for the night and meals will be available for the hungry. The menu for the evening is bean and mushroom/falafel burgers for R85 or crispy cauliflower tacos with chimmi churri sauce for R70. Bridge Street Brewery will be supplying craft beers and gin. Soft drinks will also be available.
To add to the vibe, one of Cape Town's finest vinyl selectors "Beurre Noisette" will be spinning the tunes, so be sure to invite your friends and come say hello!
Another event to Diarise for the following week is Matt Bromely's talk on big waves, big fears and big faith - at Harvest church. Deets below.
Besides a few waves we had the usual dose of PE wind. Photag Luc is a sucker for punishment and likes to see how much sand he can get in his camera and orifices during these times.
Another good local photag is Clive Wright down at Seals. He got some lekker shots of early morning fiery skies as well as a kiff night shot of some red tide looking pretty.
PE threw out the usual dose of lekker skies too. Much as we might bitch and moan about the economy and crime etc etc, try finding sunsets like this in London!
Early birds can still get the worm - and the dawn patrol Pipe crew always find something to ride. One of them is surfer-chef Allan Bezuidenhout. If you haven't yet been to his possie, Muse, do yourself a favour and go there for a very lekker chow. The sort of spot to take your significant other for something fancy! Fine dining does exist in PE thanks to Allan. #supportsurfers
Looks like Neptune is delivering this week - but hold thumbs n fingers n toes that the wind plays ball.
Being a big wave surfer in PE is probably viewed as the ultimate dichotomy. And yet, on those rare and special days, when the weather, wave and wind gods align, there can be some beautiful monsters that grace our shores. And not only on the wild side, in the bay itself.
Clubhouse, on it's day, graduates from being booger-pit heaven going left to a really serious big wave going right. At proper size 6-8ft there are a coupla takers, but bigger than that and there are very few guys willing to surf it. Just getting out to the backline is a feat in itself, and then dealing with the raw ocean power and the volume of water moving about is another thing all together.
Very few of us will ever experience what it's like to surf really really big waves. Like proper big waves with dire consequences. So that's why it's so insightful to be able to read of a first hand experience of what it's like, and what it takes, to step up into that realm. Especially when told by a local PE surfer about one of our very own big wave spots.
Gustav Lokotsch, one of the handful of local surfers who has dedicated himself to chasing the monsters, talks us through a very special wave he caught at Clubhouse during the huge January 2019 swell, and the preparation it takes to ensure you get it right when the stars align. But scoring a massive wall from Clubhouse right past the back of Avalanche and into the bay at Avo's, well - that makes it all worth while!
As told by Gustav:
"For the last 5 years odd I really have been putting focus on learning and understanding how to surf Clubhouse when its on. In my books when it’s on, it’s a solid 6 – 8ft (Consistent sets) with the semi-regular rogue 10ft sets that bend in from the South, sort of like a wrap. In my books, 10ft is a minimum 20ft face, just to put the size scale into perspective.
The problem is, it’s only really on once a year if you lucky and normally involves a shit load of paddling so your opportunity to learn and understand the spot is limited. Nonetheless over the last couple of years with some really solid swells we have had, and in collaboration with DVT (Dylan van Tonder), I was set into an inevitable course of “learning” which was a critical path that needed to be taken in order to have had the session I did on 14 Jan 19.
I purchased a 9’8 Errol Hickman Big Wave gun from Duncan Scott in 2008. A critical part of the equation - The right equipment! Having the right equipment is one thing, learning how to connect with it is another. From around 2011 I started surfing that board more and more. Sessions out on the wild side (Plat bank, Beachview, Maitland, Malay Pools, Cobbles, Back Reef, Gannetts) all in the range of 8 – 15 ft, forged a special connection with this board. It effectively became an extension of me. It’s difficult to explain how deep of a spiritual connection I have with this board.
Two years ago, due to not having access to any rescue ski’s, I decided to start putting a big effort into my fitness. Generally when I surf, its larger than average and its either just myself or in collaboration with DVT. If shit goes bad, best you have the backing to have a chance to make it back. My kind of max size for ace out missions for spots I have around the wild side of PE is around 15ft, anything more than that, the risk of not coming back is exponential, sort of like the Richter scale. Decisions need to be made then, like I said there is no ski fetching me…
From swimming to running to sessions of paddling my 9’8 4- 7 km’s of flat water, I remained consistent in building up the ability to paddle for miles and at least not be too gased to catch some waves and make it back to shore. Inherently where we/I go, you going to paddle a lot and probably taking a couple on the head if you not smart. If leash snaps, you in for a mega swim in some heavy moving water which may require beaching on some dodgy rocks…
Added to the above, I was in fact meant to be in Durban on 14 Jan! I had rented a flat and was planning to drive 14 Jan. My car went in for a service 2 weeks before that but because I was waiting for a part, the trip was delayed. I was so busy and actually was paying no attention to the charts. I only saw the swell on Friday and when I did, I got the semi nervous gut feel. It all looked the SAME as the swell we had in August last year but scaled down. I did think much of it till Monday. I planned to surf but forgot about it.
I woke up Monday and could year the Thunder roaring from my house. Direct distance to the Seaview is Approx 6km. Its as if a switch flicked in my gut and I knew it might be pretty large! I didn’t quite properly compute that feeling…. yet
Packed the car and off I went. I drive around Schoenies because I like to suss it out. When I turned down off Seaview road and got a solid glimpse of the sea and ONLY saw WHITE, I was like F**k, I thinks its code red, but somehow and for some reason did not quite drink it in yet.
When I got down to Schoenies and saw single lines right across from Sards to Schoenies 3 km’s out too sea (Cannon was a massive straight line white water), f**k I knew we are a go for launch control. That’s when excitement took (started nervous frothing at the beak) and “plan of approach” started being developed. ,
When I got to Summies (Summerstrand lifesaving club) at 11h30, I could see the potential. Still not the pulse yet. I did a lot of swell map investigations and with experience guessed the pulse would be between 12h00 and 16h00.
No pulsing yet but signs are there, suited up, waxed the board, stretched and padded out right in front of the club at 45 degrees. Funny enough, I got out with my hair dry. When I got out, James Jones (body boarder) was in the water. We sat waiting in between sets but there some real solid one (6ft+ for sure) the odd 8ft set. A LOT of POWER… My second wave was very solid. Funny story, I was taking the piss out of James for pulling off the back of a cracker, he was slightly too deep. There was so much power and didn’t think he wanted to take lip on head, it would have been extremely unpleasant to say the least.
He then got one and on his way up a semi monster came in (my 2nd wave). I swung board to paddle in, was very late for the drop and was going to hit the kill switch, but in a split second I saw James down the line up looking up at me and I thought of my banter to him. All thoughts of option for “abort” nullified. I kind of chested myself into it. I made it but f**k me it was semi free fall into mach 50 engage and eventually pulled straight……. That set the tone for my confidence for the rest of the session
When I got back James had a laugh and I tuned him, Bro, guess I need to put my money where my mouth is hey.…..
James stayed out for a few more waves, reckon till about 12h45. It was about round 13h00 where it really turned on. A lot of water was moving. From when I got in at 11h50 to 13h45, I must have had about 10 - 12 waves or more already all the way nearly to avo’s rock going 9000 km per h on that magnificent machine that Errol spawned to life. A couple do stand out, those wide South Chunky ones, but I’m not here to tell you about that. All part to adding to this very special session.
I had to pull straight on one round 13h40 and got washed in, nearly went bad into the rocks. There was SO much water moving and sets were consistent as it was coming off the low and moving onto the 1st step of the high (I have a tide watch which has become probably the most useful tool ever).
I analyse data and design systems for a living, so its easy for me to break this session down from many different perspectives based on DATA. In order to process it, properly “drink it in “and plan for the next one, I have not stop analysing.
When I came in, I was quite gased and assessed whether I should paddle out again, it was MORE like "CAN I MAKE IT out again". That place on pulse, if you wash in, you aint going back.. that I can promise unless you jump off avo rock and paddle for 2km’s into a rip.
Sitting there I just saw these rights reeling in set after set and thought to myself f**k it… Plan of approach. “Up pipes ass then 45 degrees and hope for the best…..”
Stuck to plan, took me about 8 – 10 mins to get to kind of the beginning of where that backline actually is, problem is when I got there, a mayday set came it – horizon went semi black. The pulse was also a bit different to what I have had in past experiences. Sets were like this - a good couple 6ft'ers, with the last 2 or 3 in the set being solid 8ft, then a slight break, then like another 2- 4 SOLID 8ft'ers, then 1 - 4 mins and Rouge 10ft set from the South, so when it came, if you not where you should be its going to be unpleasant.
Anyway, I paddled my ass, made it halfway up the 1st one with my 9’8 then chucked, I punched through the back but the board was taken, reckon I was dragged 15 meters as leash engaged (8ft leash became 15 ft length post session). There really was a lot of power in that swell. Anyway eventually when my board was released and I got it half way to me tugging on the leash, the next one was on my head, I took another, got the board and caught the next white water angling to that lifesaving shack on the beach, by this time, I was starting to enter danger zone re those rock zone on the front there.
When the wave half faded, I had managed to ride sideways to line up with that shack on the beach. This in all ended up being 15 mins odd. I sat there thinking, f**k I’m not going to make it out. I saw these rights and I was like, Ok one more time. I paddled straight from the shack. Popped about 4 white waters, checked I was starting to draw into the middle of the impact zone and had to start making decisions again. Though to myself “bad place to be if set comes now”
One decent once came in, I thought "ok, I'll take this on the head but if there is anything behind in, its kill switch time", my body was starting to enter high orange zone with regards to reserves. I popped up after that with a lot of water moving and funny enough, she lifted her skirt for me. I put in a sprint at 45 degrees and as I got to the safe zone a massive set came in. When I saw that set reeling down the line my body all of a sudden was not hurting anymore. In all it took me 20 odd minutes to get back out and to be dead honest, I got lucky…. Comes to that word we call persistence/perseverance/tenacity – The WILL - not to give up so easily…..
I got to the take off zone 14h18 Had another 4 absolute crackers in a row all the way to Avo’s rock.. My body was really starting to semi fail now but could NOT accept going to in. The excitement of the experience and having NO ONE but me out there was negating body failure/shutdown messages. After the 4th wave I paddle back to the take-off zone, knowing that the next would more than likely be my last. I registered a MASSIVE set off bell buoy, I have kind of worked out how long it takes for that to hit clubhouse within a tolerable error range and put on the timer. The set had landed.
I was too excited. The set was similar to the structure I mentioned above, I ended paddling for the 2nd last one in the set, sort of missing it because I was bit too much up towards Pipe, then the next one behind it was a f**kin monster, reckon easy 10 ft, because I paddled sideways for the last one I was in a better position but too far in and missed it too. I went over that one and there was nothing, F*ck I was bleak. “I didn’t calm down”. “F**ket why didn’t I calm down.”
Anyway I sat there mulling over missing that last BOMB and from the deep south wrapped this double up 10ft+ monster with ALL the 18 second period it could have had on that day It just popped up in my face from nowwhere…..
I literally took 4 strokes out to sea towards it, jumped on the back of the board, swung it around and hardly took a stroke, I virtually “chested” myself into it. When I hit my feet, that 9’8 hit engaged. Very late and vert take off, I remember it clearly, full survival stance engagement, kind of weightless for a few seconds, until I could feel the board starting to properly engage.
I drew that momentum from the super later drop off the bottom and set my line down the 1st section of the cracker (Conti Flag to end of Clubhouse, pre-danger zone rock section). I remember that piece from the end of the lifesaving club to Avalanche rock very well. I had to decide at that point, it was lock and load or abort.
The wave was such that if you decided to take that path its best you make it. I locked and loaded and drew my next line for that section. Felt as if the board was planing on a flow rider, there was so much water drawing, I kind of had to angle the board a bit to land in order I manage the draw up the face. When I got to Avalanche rock, it gased behind me which added to my already ridiculous momentum and speed (that 9’8 weighs 8kg’s),
The wave was doubling up just on the outside of avo’s rock - sort of if you look at it from shore, just behind it and 45 degrees. I thought to myself, wait I can make this, I re-angled my momentum, engaged the so called step’s just off that rock and managed to get kind of over it just on the outside of it, as I did, it re sucked for re engagement, which is effectively the TOP TOP of avalanche right on the inside of the rock. I then drew my 3rd line for that section, By this time the wave was probably 6ft+, it started at solid 10ft+ up until avalanche rock engagement.
I made it passed that boil section, where the guys paddle out (avo’s parking lot), then drew my line for that next piece, I rode till half way to between avalanche and millers rock and pulled straight…. The whole ride being 65 - 75 seconds at most I reckon. So that’s from just inside the conti flag at Summies to the middle of avalanche. Been dreaming about that wave for a long time. That’s excluding the 14 absolute crackers I had before this one
One other person I know has had one possibly even further, that’s Jason Van Gruenen. I think he too knows how special that wave is and I believe we both share a deep connection with that wave. I think the red board he had that wave on is hanging in Denis’ shop. He will never sell that board, I know that cos I wanted to buy it!
Lots went into getting this special wave. I had to work really hard for it. What made this a possibility? Time spent surfing there, efforts put into learning equipment, FITNESS and most of all the universe directing me in ways that you can only understand if you one that likes to analyse and understand things slightly deeper than the average person.
Every surfer who lives in PE is aware of what we have in our back yard. Every surfer knows what it can produce. Not every surfer in PE is willing to accept conditions in order to have the chance to get what it can produce. For those that I know and are willing to accept, I’m sure they will appreciate the above account. It’s something I would appreciate.
Jason wave’s back in 98’ or ’99 or ‘01 is what inspired me. I did even see it but I was there for that swell. I saw the swell and could believe that it happened. I saw him surf Clubhouse on a few occasions and I really have not seen anyone surf it better on size, meaning proper 8-10ft+. Many nights I have thought about his wave. Many nights I have thought of how you can make it past Millers. Many nights I have thought of other breaks that we have that can be surfed.
For those who are not faint-of-heart and have their sights set on building their own special relationship with the ocean, Not for fame, not for money, but for love, passion and pushing personal boundaries, this story is for them.
I see the her (the Ocean) as my other girlfriend.. on the 14th of Jan 19, man did she put out for me in a big way. But as noted above, it can come at a price. A price I would pay any day, in a “pound of flesh…”
Thanks to Gustav for his engaging account of what it's like to ride the big one. Unfortunately there were no known shots taken of the session. So if you do happen to have taken some that day - or know of anyone who did - please drop me a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
Another winters week goes by with not much swell to shout about. So far it's been mostly a winter of the Wildside, with you having to drive round the corner in order to get wet.
And if you make the trip you could get richly rewarded with some shacks and solo sessions. Just gotto know where to go. And there are certainly those in the know...
You could of course go stuff the bay, and head north of the equator, Like ex-PE local Amba Holmes. Who has upgraded from crumbly Pipe to groomed Nias walls. Looks like a good trade!
Or if you do put your faith in the bay, sometimes it is rewarded. Every dog has it's day, and so does Pipe. Which had a couple during the week.
What Pipe might lack in wave quality it makes up for in camaraderie. Always someone to hang about and shoot sh*t with in the car park - and of course you get to chat to legendary Car Park John as well.
PE isn't always flat though. Sometimes the weather and wave gods align and then it goes ballistic. And for those day you have to be prepared! Cos on it's day the bay can dish out waves that rival the best of them. Clubhouse is one of those mystical spots that can deliver.
Like the massive swell on the 19 January this year. Gustav Lokotsch, one of the few PE surfers who actively seek out the really, really big stuff was rewarded with the wave of his life that day. A perfect monster that ran from Clubhouse all the way past Avo's rock and into the bay at Avalanche. You can read his amazing account here
So for those who saw Dennis Ellis's Facebook pic last week of two big wave sticks he has just shaped (image below), and wondering why anyone in PE would ever need those - just take a read of Gustav's story above.
There are big wave boards and lil wave boards - and in PE it's mostly the lil wave one's you need. Surf Centre's Gavin Rother added another stick to his quiver recently, and she got some glitter treatment to the deck - so if you see Gavin twinkling past you now you know why. She also has the RSPro hexatraction on the deck for the wax-less surf experience. You can grab some at Surf Centre. Check out my review of RSPro hexatraction here. Good stuff this is!
Local logger Alfonso Peters went off to Biarittz in France last week to represent SA in the ISA World Longboard Champs. Unfortunately the surf was mostly like Pipe on a small, onshore, atrocious day, which made competing pretty damn hard and more like a lotto. Alfonso got himself a 17th possie.
Eish, the fish farm debacle continues. With the area off of Pipe still within one of the spots they want to zone for it. Now we all know that's a really doff idea, so if you'd like to add your name to the petition to object to it, please do so here:
Say no to the Fish Farm
We are blessed with a beautiful bay - let's try keep it that way!