The trip nearly got off to an interesting start - with our plane almost getting diverted to Durban thanks to a massive hailstorm smashing Joburg as we were trying to land to connect to our international flight. Note to self - do not try fly into Joey's in the late arvo in summer - it's hailstorm heaven. After about an hour of circling, it was almost time to bail but luckily a tiny break in the storm let us sneak in. You know the flight was eventful when the whole plane bursts out in spontaneous applause when the wheels hit the ground.
It wrecked havoc with the international flights leaving too.The 2 hour delay proved to be an educational exposure to other cultures. Our Dubai connection was packed with Chinese, who, it transpires, have a very interesting approach to personal hygiene issues in public. Pretty much anything goes. Including having a big sniff, placing a finger on one nostril, and blowing a lekker big snotball out your nose right onto the carpet in front of you in a crowded airport waiting room. Schweet. Not. For 2 hours it was spit, snort, pick nose, burp loudly and any other bodily affliction you felt like sharing. Note to self #2 - do not fly the Emirates 22h20 flight outta JHB, as it's the one that connects to Bangkok.
We'd resigned ourselves to missing our connecting flight in Dubai cos of the delay - but luck was on our side, and it had been delayed as well. Onwards to Kuala Lumpur. Stoked to have booked into a kiff overnight hotel there - cos there was a dude with a sign waiting for us as we left the plane. Just as well, cos it's one flipping big airport and we'd probably still be wandering around there now if we hadn't got a meet n greet. The styling continued when we got picked up by a lil golf buggy and driven through the airport to the hotel.
Glad that I had the extra padding made for the boardbag cos it looked like the All Blacks had done the Haka on it. What the hang baggage handlers do to your stuff once it disappears down the chute is anyone's guess.
Day 2 and a quick trip to the Low cost airport terminus for our Air Asia flight to Padang - organised chaos. About 10 queues and 2.5 hours later and we'd finally managed to ditch our bags. Being low cost means instead of a bus to your plane you get to walk the 1km there. Literally 1km from terminus to where the plane was parked. Note to self #3, rather fly in via Singapore (which we would have done had we not booked so late - there were no flights left)
Padang. Finally. The typical mission through customs where you had to unpack everything - turns out it was the rugby ball that had got them confused! Then a 40 minute drive up into the foothills outside of Padang where we'll be spending the night in a homestay before catching a lil charter flight out to the islands tomorrow.
Can't wait to get in the water!
Feel like winning your very own custom surfboard by legendary Seals shaper Simon Fish aka Fishstix? Course ya do! Then buy yourself a raffle ticket from Faye Zoetmulder for R50. Faye's raising money so she can get on the WQS next year as she doesn't have a sponsor. She's also having a Trivia evening at the Cape St Francis Resort next Saturday - so grab some mates and book a table (R120 pp). Live music, kiff chow and lots of fun.
Thoughts and prayers with JBay ripper Matt McGillivray who underwent elective surgery earlier in the week to correct a congenital anomaly of his breastbone. Matts was concave instead of flat, so he had some panel-beating done to sort it out. He'll be out the water for 6 weeks at least. Get better quick kid!
Britney is not only a great surfer, but she sure know what to do with a koki pen too. Ok, technically they called Zig Pens, but just fancy koki pens for surfboards and whatever else you want to doodle all over. So look out for Britney & Robyn rocking their custom-koki'd sleds.
Sticking with boards - Brad Beck has recycled himself a 70's single fin classic. Reckons it's a heavy bastard, but once it's all sanded down he should be having some summer fun on it. The guys at the CYOH comp had a blast on the Catch Surf boards that Roosta brought down this weekend. They're made out the same stuff as bodyboards, so essentially foamies with class. Most are finless so you can 360 and slide out to your hearts content.
Summers here which means long days on the beach - and a long time your cars gonna be in the carpark and available for affirmative shopping. Don't leave your keys on the wheel - grab your self a key lock at Surf Centre. Be safe rather than sorry. New in stock are Gas fins for the Future/Firewire fin systems. Helluva lot cheaper than Future fins themselves - almost half price. Range of thrusters and quads.
Ex-Pipe local Jaryd Mason (aka Jag) decided to go see if the grass was greener on the other side of the pond after finishing varsity earlier this year. He made the mission over to Perth.
Q: So, what’s the surf like? Rumour has it it’s worse than PE – which would be a scary concept!?!
Surfing in Perth is completely different to surfing in PE. The waves are really different to your usual EC setup. It’s actually a lot like some of the North Coast setups in KZN. To be honest I’d say that Perth and PE get the same amount of “surfable” days a year. Most breaks in Perth are super punchy, racy beachies with the odd reef break/ledge. The onshore can blow for weeks at a time and when the swell does arrive it dies out really quickly. I really miss groomed offshore days at our points back home!
Q: You always hear what good surf WA has – so how Perth doesn’t cop it?
Unfortunately, Perth isn’t blessed with the best waves in WA...Bad winds and swells that don’t quite reach our breaks. Sound familiar? But there are some really good spots in Perth when the conditions are right. You really have to be willing to mission to find waves.
Q: What’s your new “local”?
Well...my new local is a beachie/groin break about 5 minutes from where in live. It’s apparently semi-secret but I will say that it’s in the “City” at a “Beach”! I also enjoy surfing a reef break called The Cove when there is some swell around.
Q: Seems like the toothy locals are hectic over there at the moment – 3 shark attacks this month already. Do you ever get that nervy vibe when you paddle out – or your local spot pretty safe?
I’d say my local is safe. There are always lifeguards on duty and the beach is well patrolled. It’s nice to know that there are always helicopters patrolling the Perth coastline for sharks. A few weeks ago a diver had his fin bitten off by a GW in Perth. Really close call! The other day I went down to the beach and I couldn’t swim because a 3m Tiger Shark decided to casually swim by. It was spotted by one of the helicopters and the lifeguards closed the beach until it swam off.
The helicopters are always spotting sharks and the shark buoys are always picking up tagged sharks! I follow a twitter account (@SLSWA), they tweet about shark activity in WA, so I try read their tweets before I paddle out.
Q: What’s the crowd situation like over there. Seems like every Aussie gets given a board before they can walk, so is it a mission to find waves without the hack of a crowd?
I try avoid surfing on weekends in Perth. It’s crazy! Some of the spots over here get crazy as soon as it gets over 1ft. I try surf during the week if I can.
Q: And the vibe in the water? Dog eat dog, or are there still some manners?
Vibes are really good in the water. The guys get really stoked when they see other surfers get bombs, even if they don’t know you. But you do need to hustle to get waves!
Q: Tried out Margret River yet?
Yea, I haven’t surfed main break yet. It’s really cool down there! There are loads of spots down there. Problem is that you need to know where to surf and when each spot breaks. Some of the waves are really hard to get to without a 4x4. The last time I was down there Shane Dorian and Parko were there too, visiting Taj. I managed to find some fun 2-3ft sessions but, I saw on Instagram that Parko and the boys got some epic sessions that weekend! Bleak...
Q: And overall, what’s it like living there compared to home?
I love it here! It’s harder to fit in surfs but the overall lifestyle is great and Aussies aren’t that bad haha!
Q: Planning to stay or is this just a lil travel/work mission with no plans of settling permanently?
It looks like I’ll be staying in Australia for now. My plan is to get my CA over here then see what happens, but right now I’m just enjoying this adventure and making the most of it. I’m also trying to save up for some indo excursions!
Q: Missing home much? Or the fact that you ou’s even have a local Spur help keep the homesickness at bay?
I do enjoy them spur burgers and I miss PE. I miss the PE surfing vibe. It’s hard to replace something like that. I practically grew up surfing in PE, it’s a special pIace. I miss the people more than anything. It’s always fun sharing waves with friends and catching up in the water. Will be home for a bit this summer so I’m hoping for some summer nuggets!
Shew, there's a lot happening over the next few weeks so here's a quick run down of what you need to put in your diaries as far as surf comps, surf events, surf bands, skating and anything happening on the beachfront goes. No reason to be left sitting at home at any stage!!
Not often you'll see a shark warning flag flying on a PE beach. However, on Wednesday morning all the southern beaches in the bay were closed after a large 7m whale carcass was spotted floating offshore between Pipe and Bell Bouy. The prevailing winds and currents saw the dead whale moving closer to shore, and concerns arose that it could attract sharks to the area.
The Beach Office put up the shark flags at all bathing beaches, and sent out a crew of lifesavers in rubber ducks and on jetski's to locate the whale. Once spotted, they stay with it for a few hours until a boat from the Police's water-wing was able to come and assist in towing it out to sea.
Media speculation about a "shark feeding frenzy" was totally over-stated. I spoke with lifeguards who were on the rubber duck that babysat the whale, and they reported seeing only a single shark briefly in the hours they were out there. There was evidence that the whale had been extensively bitten, but this had occurred some time prior.
At about 2pm the whale was towed deeper into the bay in the direction of Bird Island. It would still be wise to exercise caution when swimming/surfing over the next day or two, as the oil slick from the dead whale could still be present and serve as an attractant for predators. Rather be safe than sorry. The surf isn't worth it anyhow, small weak wind swell at best.
Thumbs up to Fernando Cain and the Beach Office for issuing prompt warnings and acting quickly to remove the whale from the beachfront area.
Things been pretty slow surf wise in the bay lately. Summer doldrums. Always seems such a waste of kiff days, warm water and long evenings when there's no surf. Here's a few random bits & pieces of whassup in the absence of surf.
Anyone who's owned a GoPro knows you take lank selfies by mistake. But Michael Klos is glad he did. Cos he lost his GoPro at Avo's about 3 months ago, and Craig Cuffs daughter found it washed up at Millers after the big east swell - and Craig managed to track Michael by posting the pic up on Facebook and reunited him with his camera!
After the solid surf on Saturday & a few close calls it might be a good time to look at how to be safer in the big stuff. Common sense is your friend, panic is your enemy. Unfortunately when you're in a heavy situation panic tends to show the middle finger to common sense and calm. There's no guarantee to staying outta trouble, but being aware of a few things might help.
The most obvious consideration is don't paddle out in waves way beyond your capabilities. Absolutely, push your boundaries a bit, cos that's how you make the step-up, but do it in lil steps, not flying leaps.
Before you paddle out:
Take a few minutes to watch the conditions. Long period swell means longer waits for the big sets. Check out the currents/rips. Big surf in the bay always means some sort of current. 90% of the time it runs northwards - towards Kings Beach direction. So work out where you need to paddle out so you don't end up in the rocks before you're in the backline. If you're heading out at Clubhouse or Millers that means an entry point at least 50m up from where you normally get in, if not even further.
Definitely don't try the paddle out from Hobie beach right next to the pier, unless you are keen to get washed through the pier and into the impact zone on the other side. Been there, done that myself. No fun. Give yourself at least 20m from the pier if you're gonna paddle out from the beach and round the back of it into the line-up. Cos the current's gonna suck you straight towards it quicker than you can blink. And paddle pretty far out behind the pier before you cut across to the lineup - check the image below to see how far the rip line extends.
Check your leash. It's the only thing between you and a long swim. Give the swivels a quick turn & make sure they aren't looking a bit dodge (the white, chalky, salt-encrusted look is a bad sign! That's when they tend to snap) and run your fingers quickly over the whole leash to check for small fins cuts. Leashes don't last forever, the swivels corrode and the polyurethane gets brittle and less stretchy - rather replace them before they snap.
Leash over or under wettie? Under your wettie definitely helps to keep it attached to your leg in the big stuff, but, it makes it a lot harder to get off in a hurry. Personally I'm an over-wettie person, but then I'm also definitely not out there when it's really big either.
And now would be a good time to evaluate if you can make the swim back. Cos if your leash breaks, that's what you gonna be doing. So make sure your swimming ability matches the surf you're heading out in.
Work out how you're going to paddle out after your surf before you actually paddle in. Watch to see where other guys are getting out, and know your options. Have at least a Plan A and Plan B.
Paddling back in:
Make sure you have a bit of gas left in the tank for the paddle back in. Remember the current is going to be yanking you in the direction of Kings Beach, so when you start to aim for your exit point, don't wait til you're right in line with it and expect to be able to paddle straight in. You're gonna need to start paddling in when you're still on the south side of the exit point so as you paddle you'll be drifting towards it.
If you miss your exit point, sometimes trying to paddle back towards it doesn't work out to well if the current is strong. By persisting on trying to make it back there against the current you might end up using all your energy, still not make it, and end up in more trouble (think rocks, slipway etc). Sometimes it's a better call to just call it quits on Plan A, turn around and paddle back out a bit and drift further north with the current to Plan B. So what if it means an extra 100 meters on the walk back to the car.
Fighting the current doesn't always turn out well, and can often be accompanied by a trip through the rocks or over the mussels. Neither of which are terribly exciting. Anyone who's ever been caught in the washing machine current down the bottom end of the Avo's bay on a low tide will tell you it's a kak spot to be. It's super hard to get outta there by trying to paddle back in the direction of the take-off zone. Rather aim to paddle outwards in the direction of Bird Rock, as you'll get outta the whirlpool effect quicker. Might be a bit of a longer route to get back out, but sure is a whole bunch less effort. And beats a trip over the rocks for sure.
Same goes for Clubhouse. The inside section can be like a river. Respect it. There's the Avo's rock itself, as well as a nasty bombie just to the side of it, just off the beach. If you're going to make the run from Clubhouse through into Avo's itself, make sure you make it. It's a kak spot to fall. Have seen Granville West (aka Granny) make it through into Avo's itself on a monster he caught at Clubhouse. He even hooked a massive snap whilst he was right behind the rock.
If things go pear shaped, and you end up with your leash snagged in a rock, bit of coral or tangled in something whilst getting smashed on the inside - get rid of it. Quickly. Which brings up a very important point. Do you know which way to get your leash off? As in, am I reaching down to my inside ankle and pulling it outwards, or am I reaching to my outside ankle and pulling it inwards?
It helps to always put your leash on the exact same way every single time you surf, so you know exactly where to reach and which way to pull it to get it off in an emergency. Fumbling with your leash whilst you're getting pummeled is no fun. It helps to have a leash that has a lil pull tag on the velcro (called a quick release tab), as it's easier to grab and yank.
Hopefully you never get caught in a gnarly situation, but it can happen anytime, anywhere. So rather be prepared.
The bay got treated to some decent SE swell on the weekend. But big surf can hand out some big beatings whilst you're out there in search of the big waves and barrels. And it's something worth thinking about before paddling out there.
There were a few lucky escapes this weekend which serve to highlight the importance of the old adage "Know before you go". I witnessed a pretty scary incident go down whilst shooting from the pathway above Humewood. I had sms'd the surfer involved later that day to ask if he wanted the pics of his close shave, as I hadn't planned on running them on the site. But he thought it'd be a good idea to print them and run the story, as he wanted other surfers to learn from it so they don't get caught out like he did.
So thanks to Sabo for letting me share his unplanned trip through the slipway. Hopefully it'll save someone else from making the same scary trip.
Sabo & his mates had been getting some bombs out at Baked Beans. They'd finished their surf & where paddling in. Normally if you surf Baked Beans on a big day you paddle back through the pylons at Humewood and come in on the beach. However, the EP comp was on there, so they guys were paddling in on the Baked Beans side of the slipway. A very tricky exit.
It's a narrow channel, and the rip there is crazy when it's big, and pulls you towards the slipway unless you time your paddle in really well, and come in from an angle behind the rocks. Sabo was the last of his crew to paddle in, and a big set arrived just as he was in line with the edge of the slipway. Next thing he was getting dragged towards it despite paddling his pip off to try get back to the channel.
You can be the strongest paddler in the world - but no ways can you match the strength of the current. So Sabo got washed against the side of the slipway. Bad enough. But then things got worse. The next wave in the set picked him up and washed him INSIDE the slipway itself - as in right between the metal girders. All you could see was his board resting on top of the cross struts and suddenly this head pop up between them.
He got pounded by a few waves in there. Thankfully being an experienced surfer he knew to get his leash off quickly, cos getting that tangled up woulda put him in the kak properly.
After a few waves on the head he managed to lift himself up outta the slipway and jump off the other side into Hummies itself. And still had to deal with a few rinse and spin cycles in the impact zone before getting safely back to the beach. Meanwhile his board had taken a battering through the slipway, and had finally come loose and made it's way to shore in 2 pieces.
It's a small price to pay to come out of a gnarly situation with only your board bust. Beats a bust-up body anytime. Dennis can fix the board but not your bod.
Sebastian's an experienced surfer, so it just shows how quickly things can go wrong if a few elements combine together. He highlighted a few things that guys should be aware of on bigger days. Fitness is important, and if your fitness levels aren't were they should be, make sure you plan to get out whilst you still have some energy left in the tank, so that you can handle any curveballs the paddle-in may throw at you.
Understand the currents and rips at the spot you're surfing, and then make sure you have your exit point planned and know what you will have to deal with when you get there.
It's really tough to try fight the power of the current, and you can waste valuable energy doing so. If you've missed your exit spot, go to Plan B. Rather than trying to fight back towards it against the current, just turn round, paddle further out and follow the current down to the next exit spot. Rather end up a few 100m further down the beach than planned than a trip over the rocks. Worst case scenario? You end up at Kings Beach. So what - it's just a bit of an extra to walk back to the car.
Sabo came out unscathed cos he kept a calm head - got rid of his leash quickly and sacrificed his board instead of his body. Overall it was a happy ending to a heavy situation.
Don't think it can't happen to you. Sabo's a good surfer, and he got caught out. When the surf's big, stay 100% focused until your feet hit the sand.
Check out the shots from Saturday's sessions here <Latest Shots>