SOMEWHERE between Jeffreys Bay and the moon lies this gem. Head over the Gamtoos River, back out on to the N2 and just drive. A couple of hours later, the Eastern Cape dunes will suck your car into their vortex, offering a maze of roads that snake along a lunar landscape and deposit you smack-bang in beachbreak nirvana.
The world beyond the Jeffreys Bay webcast: chilli biltong served up by the disco dancing Xhosa girls at the butcherie on Goede Hoop St, not the x-grade stuff from the show ponies at J-Bay Biltong. King browns of Windhoek lager, ‘surprise chicken’ at Le Grotto (it’s fish). Very brief (read spooky) sessions at Seaview and Gamtoos mouth. Stealth sessions at Oysters and Ducks. Otters slipping through the razorwire right across from Salads. Urchins, mussels and haircuts from the bloke at Tokyo Sexwale. Dane’s tail-first endo thing. Parko’s everything. Slater’s everything. The greatest little humdinger of a town in the free world, Humansdorp, and the best righthander in the world.
The hot “Bergwind”, like a nuke-powered hair dryer, has been funnelling its NW bluster down the Bloukrans Mountains on a direct collision course with Supertubes. Wise locals pretty much give it a miss whenever the dirty cross-shore has them in its crosshairs. On the degree of difficulty scale, trying to surf it is right up there with spinning plates with your cock. Regardless, for most of the week, your heroes have been negotiating the knotty, windblown ribs that have eaten into the world’s most revered right.
Grubs trade waves with heroes - Dominique Abersalie from Pelsrus is standing on the grass at The Point carpark, with lone single teeth up either end of his mouth, he flashes the greatest and widest grin: “Last night I stayed up and knew, that today I can’t wait to surf with Mick Fanning!” Around him, surf-zonked kids were coming in from the water, throwing Boerewors and Coke down their gullets and having a laugh with their new mates. Check the tape.
In the last 48 hours it’s been difficult to work out whether you were looking at one of the great natural wonders of the surfing world or the deco of a circa ‘81 airbrushed panel-van: Evenly spaced, mechanical walls with flared offshores opening the tubes and giving the whole stretch a not-quite-real frost to everything. From out of this ghoulishly perfect dream world, spectators watched as Parko was chaired up the beach to the concrete reality that a world title is within his grasp.
Symphony of wave and surfer, time-lapse of an epic right and of course, Kelly Slater et al, sliding and stalling their way down the line. Magic.
Latest episode of Fergal Smith's fantastic Growing series
Bodyboard footage from the Canary islands courtesy of South African, Sacha Specker
Vincent Duvignac returns from injury to show his ability along the French coast
The top 16 contenders for The Hurley Pro Video Trials have been decided. The surfer to receive the wildcard entry, that's up to you.