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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 30 January 2018

As mere mortals, most of us are thrilled to hang out with celebrities. Spike tells the story of a chance meeting in the backline at Muizenberg during the east swell last week.


CELEB WATCH: To stay a fan, you have to keep your distance ... or not? Photo Unsplash / Bervas

Angus-Stone-Instagram-Justin-CrawfordAngus and Julia Stone were in Cape Town last week to perform a one-off gig at Kirstenbosch.

I had heard somewhere that that the brother-and-sister indie act from Australia surfed. I had also found an Instagram photo of Angus in the barrel taken by one Justin Crawford (right).

Last Monday, the waves were glassy and fun at Muizenberg. A solid SE swell had came through on Sunday, courtesy Cyclone Berguitta, blown in by a fierce southeaster out to sea.

False Bay had filled up with swell, and offshore westerlies were blowing. The next day dawned beautiful and clean 2-4' at Muizenberg Corner, but I could only get there in the evening. It was full high tide and the waves were waning. Every few minutes, smooth three foot sets would loom and align, sliding across, close to shore.

Out in the backline, I saw them. He was bearded and slightly bedraggled. He was a shaggy cross between Californian rock balladeer Donavan Frankenreiter, who I interviewed once, and Italy's answer to Dave Rastovich, Chris del Moro.


ANGUS AND JULIA: Hailing from Australia, they play the perfect music for mellow surfer vibes.

longboard-306She had wet brown hair that framed old fashioned, girlish, square-cut good looks - a mirror to publicity photos of Julia.

To compound the clues, both had beautiful new longboards that would have been the pride of many a hipster. You know the boards. Old school. Very rounded nose. Shiny deck split by three bands of colour - in their case pale green, washed out maroon and the faded yellow you saw on the split-windscreen 60s VW Kombi. They had the board you find on Instagram (right), with perhaps a laminated, wooden tail block. Think Sierra or Nashville filters. Hmm. Maybe Amaro.

It hit me. "Wow, it's Angus and Julia Stone!" I paddled to them. The folksy duo play a croony sort of coastal rock interlaced with soft songs about the sweet anguish of love - unrequited, partly requited and over-requited.

They play perfect surfer music - soothing sounds when you're surfed out and chilled. Their gig on Thursday was sold out, so I figured they were getting rid of jetlag with a crisp surf on their first trip to Saffaland.


ARTFUL DUO: The Stones have a presence that exudes an easy soulfulness.

I approached the duo as they sat quietly on their boards, but didn't wish to intrude until the final proof. I listened for an Australian accent, but a set of waves appeared, and we dispersed in that eternal, conversation-breaking ebb and flow of the ocean.

She slid to her feet as effortlessly as breathing and danced the wave to the beachJulia kneeled as she paddled for a wave. She slid to her feet as effortlessly as breathing and danced the wave to the beach, crooked arms in stylised stance - all Hindu goddess. Think Balinese ritual dancing but by Radha, the Hindu goddess of love and spirituality. Not only could she sing as an angel might - in tremulous tones with a lilt like fynbos honey - she surfed like one too. I was smitten.

I didn’t see them again until three waves later. They were chatting loudly and excitedly with a third person, a young woman in her twenties.

Ah ha! They're stoked about the surf and what kiff logging waves they have scored at Muizenberg. They're obviously excited about the concert, being sold out and all. They're vibing with their manager / media officer / assistant. How cool is that!


THREE'S A CROWD: In the twilight they sat, murmuring of splenderous things. Photo Unsplash

I paddled closer. I forgot about the proof I was looking for before. I was about to blurt out my introduction, and to offer them a surf tour of Cape Town they'd remember fondly with their new buddy, Spike.

An unintelligible series of sharp "gabriush" and "gabria" sounds pierced the air. No Australians here. Portuguese. Tourists, yes. But Brazilian. Poof! The moment was gone.

I later learned that Julia doesn't surf.

Needless to say, I retreated meekly to the disconnected safety of the actual gig to marvel at Julia's one-handed trumpet play; and the almost psychic sync of their vocal virtuosity. It was a magical evening at Kirstenbosch as the crowd basked and swayed. Julia and Angus sang classics like "Heart Beats Slow", "Big Jet Plane", "For You" and "Wherever You Are", and new tracks from their latest album Snow.

They capped it off with "Santa Monica Dream" - lines of lyricism fired like searing thunderbolts into your heart. Words that singe your soul and wet your eyes.

Being just a fan - unfettered by reality - brings better perks.


+1 #1 SirDogman71 2018-02-01 08:54
Spike I have read your stories happily for many years now, surfed with you once at 365 moons ago. Keep that flag flying!
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