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....