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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 24 May 2016

With the JBU Supertrial presented by RVCA opening in a week, Spike gives us the lowdown of what swell you need by comparing JBay and ... Muizenberg. Say what?


IN THE ANGLE: If JBay were next to Muizies, you'd see some swell similarities. From Google

compass-roseFunnily enough, actual forecasting aside and into the real time, one of my key indicators for surf in JBay comes from an unlikely source. Muizenberg. Yes. Muizenberg, or Surfer's Corner, to be precise. They both fire at the same convergence of key factors - swell height, swell period, and swell direction, wind stuff and tidal stuff aside. Come to think of it, when both spots have big waves, a high tide is probably better.

Any hoo, both breaks are tucked away behind a large protruding land mass, with deep water at the base, where swell must bend in and travel 10-20kms or so. Small shifts in degrees away from the right swell direction can mean a big drop-off in swell height and surf opportunity at each spot. Only the energy, or peak period, of the swell can combat this falling off in direction, but only to a point.

Supertubes and Surfers Corner both fade away to nothing at almost the exact swell shadow, which lies on a diminishing sliding scale somewhere between SSW (roughly 215 degrees) and W (270 degrees). Both start closing out when they lose the refraction traction as swell direction goes too east, on the other side of 150 degrees or so. Forget it, no actual numbers here! Go research it yourself!

jbay sunrise_by_Deon-Lategan

BEYOND COMPARE: Early morning at Supertubes. Photo Deon Lategan

They both love the same thing - straight south swell packing a lot of punch, with periods or intervals of at least 14 seconds or more. The more, the bigger the grunt.

When Muizenberg is 4-6' and macking, Supertubes is 4-6' and smoking. By and large. Now don't get me wrong. I am not making comparisons in the wave itself. Just the general swell shadow. When the window opens, both spots light up (in their own particular way).

Of course, like JBay, when Surfers Corner is at its best, the crowd thins dramatically. Not so much our of fear, mind, but more out of a las for the paddle. Cooking Corner means a carpet of white water stretching to the horizon. Beyond the endless paddle, lies a (relative) nirvana: solid six foot lines, spaced out enough to recover if you wipe out on a big set wave.

For a logger, or someone riding a board with some volume - from fish to minimal, from bonzer to those hipster things that look like chopped off SUPs with klinkers and channels and skeggy sort of like wooden laminated fin things - these are the conditions we love to ride at Muizies.


OF MICE AND  MEN: Mouse mountain is home to legions of surfers. Photo Jean Tresfon

Longboarding can be fun when it's tiny, but when the day is grey, the offshore sweet and crisp, and the lines are rolling in well overhead to double over head. That's good Muizenberg.

Yes. That can happen. And it does in winter. Regularly. Muizenberg fires as much as JBay fires. Again, without comparing the actual ride - we don't need to describe a ride at Supers to complete the circle. We know what IT does when it fires.

So Muizies locals, don't stress. I don't skeem the WSL will move the JBay Open to Muizenberg. Haha. Neither am I suggesting that the JBU Supertrial presented by RVCA be held there either.

But it is Quite Interesting. What would Stephen Fry from QI say? My 14-year-old daughter Ella is a huge fan, and naturally rolls her eyes at my not very smart QI reference.

Comparisons can be lame I know, but they can be fun.

The Supertrial forms part of the JBay Winterfest, the sporting and music festival that will take place in Jeffreys Bay from 6-17 July. The JBU Supertrial is presented by RVCA. Co-sponsors include Monster Energy, Stance, Oakley. Wavescape is the media partner. The event is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa and the World Surf League. Check the Facebook event page and join in the fun.

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