• “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

    -Raoul Duke

    In South Africa, a nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19 started on 26 March, 2020. The lockdown regulations were some of the world’s strictest and surfing was completely banned across the country’s entire coastline. Despite some well publicised incidents of surfing at the very beginning of the lockdown, by and large the ban was observed by everyone in this region of the country and weeks of good autumn surf went by unmolested. Following the lockdown extension in mid-April, some began wondering if winter would pass with the ban remaining in place. 

    At the end of May, with surfing still banned, the collective patience finally cracked and some surfers gorged themselves during an exceptional two-day run of waves. They weren't fined after exiting the water. The floodgates then opened and the following three months saw three, five, and even a ten-day run of swell which several locals were calling the best in a decade or more.

    Technically, surfing was still banned until early August but the genie was out of the bottle and the authorities decided to turn a blind eye. There were so many days of mind-bending perfection at the point that it sometimes appeared as if the gods were rewarding that particular form of torment that comes to a surfer who, through no fault of their own, can only watch perfect waves going unridden…  

    Initially, crowds were very light with a 'locals only' policy which was fairly strictly enforced. However, a regional business travel permit scheme put in place at the end of June saw the arrival of surfers travelling “on business” to take advantage of the aforementioned ten day swell run. The crowd situation then got progressively worse, even moreso as people realised there were no pros or foreign surfers in town. Although locals weren’t shy of berating visitors, overall everyone managed to get their share. 

    Some of my reflections of a winter for the ages in this part of the world are below.

    -David Thiem

    (All photographs ©thiem_photography)


  • "Bring me my Yater Spoon. The 8'6.”

    This was the first time that surfers in this area openly flouted the ban at the end of May. The authorities weren't happy but refrained from imposing any sanctions.


  • Later that same day, an unidentified surfer is rewarded for his sixty day lockdown with a line of swell stretching deep into the bay.


  • Sean Holmes. Always graceful, even after time away from the stage.


  • “What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare." 

    -W.H Davies 'Leisure'


  • Angelo Faulkner. One of the many talented locals who put on free exhibitions day after day this winter.


  • It was an absolute privilege to witness this, one of the pre-eminent days of a winter where mere superlative days became commonplace.


  • Bad decision or bad luck, the view is the same for old mate stuck in the foam.


  • Dylan Lightfoot. The cream of an abundant crop of locals, all blessed with world class surf in their backyards.


  • Last winter, Jordy Maree won the inaugural Nias Pro, while this year he surfed equally well at another longer, colder, righthander.


  • Warren Dean. Yet another local who impressed throughout the entire winter.


  • Lockdown created separation anxiety in surfers, the end of lockdown caused it to kick in again for our best friends.

Comments

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020 at 1:46pm

And that is only Jeffery's.

Redmond Clement's picture
Redmond Clement's picture
Redmond Clement commented Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020 at 2:02pm

Not riding those waves would be a serious crime.

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020 at 6:03pm

Oh my!

Billie

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020 at 10:08pm

That lineup shot sixth from top is beauty personified.

1173

Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Wednesday, 30 Sep 2020 at 5:55pm

One day...........hopefully.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Wednesday, 30 Sep 2020 at 9:12pm

Reminds one of the vast difference in experience between a surf and a SURF in an amazing surf spot.

Frogg

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Wednesday, 30 Sep 2020 at 9:12pm

Reminds one of the vast difference in experience between a surf and a SURF in an amazing surf spot.

Frogg

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Thursday, 1 Oct 2020 at 4:57am

I didn’t realise they had such a long lockdown. Understandable that they cracked.