J-Bay Berries!

Garth Robinson
August 17, 2023
POCKET DIALLED: Andrew Carter was super loose in the more than ample juice. Photo Robinson

An ocean of foam and fury brought three days of surf insanity at the end of July, with the berries on 1 August, that will be forever remembered in J-Bay’s surf consciousness, writes Garth Robinson.

Spike called it for the 29th, a two punch combo with the second the knockout front with almost 3000km of fetch powering swell and polar wind all the way up from the Antarctic ice shelf. And so it came to pass, the first front smacking hard on Saturday with deep water south swell filtering in, thrashed into a frothful mess by the near gale force westerly, the sea was on its head and rain started to piss down in buckets.

Some desperate folk found lucky solace at a more sheltered spot nearby, while most rode out the weather indoors.

After the mayhem of Saturday, Sunday dawned cleaner and the swell more lined-up, showing a good south angle. The wind backed off a tad, but it was still pomping my bru. Broken branches - torn asunder the night before - littered roads. Some plots were underwater, and the Kouga drought was possibly broken.

Some days later, the Kouga dam reached 50% after the catchment areas had drained, having been at 16% a year previous. J-Bay’s road suddenly become ever more potholed, and riding down Da Gama Road reminded me of driving a Kombi up the N1 into Mozambique just after the war, where you drove on the muddy verge and not the road. No landmines to face here though, just the ubiquitous dog turds that always find themselves below my feet, but I digress.

BOMB INDICATOR: The reef off Walskipper was showing signs of life, the S swell creating immense peaks, and zero takers. Photo Robinson

Throughout the day the swell cleaned up and grew while intermittent rain squalls made the assorted shooter’s lives a misery. But what followed on Monday made up for that!

With most of the crowd back to work and the pro tour headed off en-masse to the next sideshow, Monday 1 August was reserved for the dedicated locals, unemployed, self employed plus Slater, and a few other hot shot hangers-on in the proverbial mix.

Maurice Cole was out there on one of his wondrous purple-railed creations, starting at Boneyards and then finding the sweet spot where the south swell was bending in over the reef. Slater later got his better waves on that same spot.

J-Bay Berries!

I have never seen Supers bend in at the top, then grow in size like it did that day. I spoke to local skipper and surfer Ashley Walter about his opinion on the swell a few days afterwards, he reckoned it reminded him of his first trips here as a kid, endless consistent winter perfection.

He highlighted the fact that the swell angle had been a perfect southerly angle, hitting the reef in its perfect sweet spot.

Other standouts up at Boneyards on Monday arvo were Warren Dean, Pierre de Villers and Mike Damant who had the place to themselves along with Slater who seemed to treat all the locals with immaculate courtesy.

I have never seen Supers bend in at the top, then grow in size like it did that day.
SLATER SEQUENCE: Slater's deep throat pit at Boneyards on the final day of the run of swell. Photo Robinson

I was just thinking how stoked I felt being the only one shooting these guys totally pigging out in front of me when I became overwhelmed by the strong whiff of turd, looked down between my feet and realised that I had set up my rig right over a huge, rank, green, dog crap that was now all over my Vans and favourite corduroys. They say it’s good luck don’t they?

Shoot on regardless was the only option, until all cards were full, the battery pap, arc eye was setting in and crap-induced nausea had gotten the better of me.

By Tuesday 2 August the grunt had all but passed us by, and the devil winds were back.

EISH: It is hard not to get spun out looking at waves that will soon offload on your head and shred you on the shelf. Photo Robinson