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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Sun, 1 July 2018

The surf looks epic for the first five days of the Corona Open JBay as two storms set Supers up in their sights with a slew of SW swell, writes Spike somewhat sybillantly.


TWO TIME: Two big southern storms will acount for five days of swell. Screengrab Windy

winterfest-2018-logoThe next ten days in JBay are going to be enthralling. The elite women are back in town. Bianca is a wildcard. Kelly is back. Sophie is coming to visit. The JBay Winterfest has added a whole music jol to its bouquet. Oh, and it's the first WSL contest to stream live on Facebook.

Very cool it will be to see the women adding gravitas to the surfing crown jewel of the JBay Winterfest, which looks to be the best edition so far, with top bands pulling in for the Corona Sunset Sessions, and all the other good stuff, from MTB races to open water swimming. Kelly Slater has announced he will be surfing a year after his foot injury free surfing up the point.

Our own Bianca Buitendag joins the women's event as one of the wildcards, along with Aussie Macy Callaghan. It's going to be epic watching women carve up some African perfection while chasing 10,000 points and first place prize money of US$65,000 (R875k). Oops. The men will also earn 10,000 points but the winner will get US$100,000 (R1.4million).

To add to the excitement, WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt will be town, no doubt fielding a lot of questions about gender pay disparity at WSL events. I will be interviewing her this week.


BACK FOR MOORE: Carissa will be one of the power surfers to watch for. Photo WSL

It's also the first time that the World Surf League will be streaming via Facebook, much to the chagrin of many anti-Facebook fans. It doesn't seem too onerous though. See how here.

The window period of the surfing opens tomorrow, and it looks like the surfers will be hitting the ground running in a pumping SW gale, and rising swell. It does seem that the buster will be blasting the swell mostly past the coast, with a westerly direction not helping matters. However, the energy in the swell is improving all day, and it's likely that the initial slow, slightly wind-effected 4-5' sets will become more consistent later as it starts to bend into Supers.

By Tuesday, it could be starting to turn on nicely, with the wind easing into a stiff west and a 10 foot ambient SW groundswell running with just enough energy and direction to be turning in 4-5' sets at Supers, with possibly a few wider ones.


WAVESMITH: Jordy's trademark slash hack cut smack will be no doubt on show. Photo WSL / Cestari

On Wednesday, the swell looks similar, but there is a devilish NW crosschopper predicted in the morning, but improving into a straight W later. But Thursday. Oh yes! This is the day to cram in as many heats as possible. The wave period jacks to 18 seconds, with proper six foot bombs likely, with possible 8 footers. The wind looks calm or light west, and we could be in for a sublime day. By Friday, it looks 4' or more, but sadly an onshore comes up from quite early.

Last year, the Corona Open JBay had epic surf, a visit by a shark, a 20-point heat by South African star performer Jordy Smith, and some of the most insane surfing ever seen in JBay by eventual event winner Filipe Toledo from Brazil.

Jordy, who paid JBay a visit recently to get some waves and acclimatise, has two wins under the belt (2010 and 2011), and will come to JBay again as the danger-man with a very real possibility of taking another win at one of his favourite waves in the world.

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NEW DAY RISING: Adriano de Souza tucks into a barrel during a free session. Photo WSL / Cestari

“It’s always so good to return to JBay and to get a few waves at Supers,” said Jordy. “It’s one of the best waves in the world and one of my favourite waves, as well as one of my favourite stops on the tour.”

Jordy has had a good run of results in Indonesia recently, and comes to JBay #8 on the Jeep Leaderboard. A big result in JBay will see him back in contention for a world title run for the back half of the CT season. At this stage there are a few injuries, with reigning world champ John John Florence from Hawaii a doubtful starter.

Entering its 6th year, the JBay Winterfest also hosts the JBay Wind Farm MTB Classic, with three routes: an 85km ultra marathon with spectacular singletrack and 1385m ascent, much in the form of short, sharp climbs in the forested kloofs and valleys of the eastern Baviaanskloof; a 50km marathon with a few tweaks to aid navigation (and ensure a clean split between the 50 and 85km routes); and a shorter, much easier 25km ride. All routes traverse the JBay Wind Farm, a 3,700 hectare space with 60 wind turbines 80m spread more than 500m apart. The race starts and finishes at Kabeljous.

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MTB CLASSIC: The Windfarm MTB Classic has a range of fitness options. Photo Jazz Kutsche

The Winterfest will host the inaugural Corona Sunset Sessions, where 12 of the best bands in South Africa will perform live on the prize-giving stage at the contest venue in Pepper Street, free of charge. The sessions will be broken down into 6 nights, with two bands playing each night.

The headline acts include the Desmond and the Tutus, Shadowclub, aKing, and Sean Koch, as well as Sunset Sweatshop, Rubber Duc and others. Many of the bands selected consist of surfers in their lineups. The Corona Sunset Sessions take place over the two weekends of the festival, Thursday 5 July to Saturday 7 July, and Thursday 12 July to Saturday 14 July.

One of the founding events of the JBay Winterfest, the Coldwater Swim Classic takes place in the salt water canals of Marina Martinique, which features sub-15 C water, icy air temperatures. Nothing more than a speedo, goggles and a swim cap await swimmers.

Sunset Sweatshop

SUN SWEAT: Sunset Sweatshop will be one of the acts performing at the festival. Photo Supplied

The Marina is renowned world wide as a open water swim venue, and the Swim Classic has been promoted to be an official Robben Island qualifying event. There are three distances on offer during the JBay Winterfest – a mile, double mile and a gruelling triple mile.

Swimmers can enter a wetsuit division, should the thought of possible 12 C water prove too much of a challenge. The Swim Classic has seen swimmers like Theodore Yach participate. Yach is the undisputed king of Robben Island with well over 100 crossings, while Abriella Bredell, 10, the youngest swimmer to cross the notorious channel between Robben Island and Cape Town and the youngest swimmer to complete the Swim Classic triple mile.

Conditions are bound to be tough and challenging again in 2018. Pre enter the event via www.jbaywinterfest.com

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