Here's the thing about Jeffrey's Bay. When two massive swells march across the South Atlantic, from west to east, as swells do; it's not just the top-to-bottom right hand point known as Supers that switches on. The reality is, there are many sections to that wave, and many different spots that'll hold up the brunt of an Atlantic lashing.
Last month, a crazy few days went down in South Africa as a solid wintery swell rolled in. Day one kind of saw the best surfers in the world take over JBay, for a head-high warm up session, amidst a highly rippable morning. So what was a local surfer to do the next day when a massive swell was due to arrive? Head to a secret spot (check vid below from 2mins 10secs). By day three, there was still enough juice to set off Bruce's Beauties, aka, the spot made famous by everyone's favourite surf flick The Endless Summer. This session though, plenty of mid-lengths out there channelling their inner Robert August. It's a bit up the road from JBay, though, some 30 minutes or so in Cape St Francis. Even from there, you can see the caps of Supers in the distance on a big day.
Live cam: JBay
Let's kick it back to that day two of the swell real quick. Local froth hound Angelo Faulkner drove around looking for somewhere to surf for the better part of the morning. The swell was powerful, big and heavy. After skirting around the coast for a while, 'looking at everywhere', this legend paddled out on a 5'10” board he bought from a kid in town, who had got it from Kanoa Igarashi. “It's the only board I got,” he told MSW. “And I could not miss this session. We surfed this spot for two hours and there was only like, me and another four people out. Unreal."
Has Angelo surfed it like this before? “Honestly, no, I've never even seen it look like this before, it was pretty intense," he said. "This spot only works on the high tide and we got in right on it. Supers was big, but this was actually a size bigger than there. When I paddled out, it took me 20 minutes to get to the back. I ended up getting washed down the beach and ended up just paddling straight out from there.”
And how was it on a 5'10”? “The funny thing is, I felt so comfortable out there,” Angelo said. “Before I paddled out it wasn't that big. Everything just happened. It's a whole different vibe out there, it's quite a heavy wave but this day was extra. Super glad the wave held up and kept the swell, didn't go frothy and close out.”
Supers was big, but this was actually a size bigger than there
Day three, there was enough juice to set off Bruce's Beauties. "Wasn't all-time but there were some people out there on retro of different shapes," said videographer Mike Ruthnam. "Including Sam Christianson styling on a mid-length. And, like, a few of the old crew on some retro shapes. Cool to see. Felt like this swell was never going to end." That board from Sam, "It's the thickest board I've ever surfed [laughs]. Think it's 7'10" x 21.5", I've been surfing it the past few days, it's super sick. Really enjoying it."
"Yeah, Bruce's is super fickle," said Craig Jarvis, our man on the ground in South Africa. "Sometimes it can super crazy and fully on, other times you expect it to be that and it just doesn't happen. Crazy."
When those few days wrapped up though, some went on to Indo to chase the swell. Some stayed behind to soak up the next swell on the way. More on that, very soon.
MSW forecaster Tony Butt lays out exactly what happened here: "The first pulse of swell, that hit the J-Bay area on 10th, originated from a relatively small area of low pressure that got stronger between the 8th and 9th, a few hundred miles off the west coast of South Africa. The system was associated with a much larger ‘mother system’ that had already passed way to the south of Africa.
"An area of southerly winds off the back of that storm, moved in an easterly direction, pushing swell towards the northeast. This quickly increased along the south coast of South Africa through the 9th, peaked on 10th and then decreased on 11th.
"The second pulse of swell originated from a low pressure that developed all the way over near Argentina on July 7. Over the next two days, it moved east and got stronger.
"Both those systems continued to move across the ocean until it was situated directly south of South Africa by Monday July 11. Another storm then developed west of the first one just off the ice shelf and this caused an area of strong winds to expand, enormously, from near the tip of Africa, south-westwards almost to South Georgia way over the other side of the South Atlantic.
"The swell hit the Cape Peninsula late on July 11, and then quickly filled in along towards the east, hitting the JBay area the next day. It continued to ramp up through 13th, peaking on 14th before ramping down again."
And then, it went to Indo, which you can see HERE.