The recent Winter Solstice has flipped the coin on the weather patterns and spawned idyllic wave riding conditions. Last weekend saw plenty of buttery walls enveloping and being torn apart by the lucky few who knew where the elements were flawlessly converging. As is well known, the core of SA’s surfing communities are a diverse and interesting bunch who are hyper-aware of the nuances from coast to coast.
We explore a few of the standout characters who always seem to be in the right place at the best time. It’s for these dedicated dudes that the Striped Horse Challenge has been created and its swells like these that produce the rides of their lives and enable the subsequent entries into the prize-laden SHC18. Now, let’s dig in.
One of the frothing crew, Cape local Matt Kleynhans, under the pretence of a romantic getaway with his lady, lucked into the juicy swell himself and also managed to get some incredible drone footage of Grant “Twiggy” Baker getting stunningly shacked at an unnamed reef. “I was heading down the coast when I saw the guys out on the ski and decided to stop and film. As the drone took off and arrived out at the back line the battery warning came on saying I needed to come in and change batteries! Right then, a 12-foot beast set rolled through and Twig stroked into it and got absolutely shacked. I was super lucky to capture the moment and safely land the drone on the beach. I was so stoked but stress levels were high, to say the least!”
Surfer: Grant Twiggy Baker Photographer: Matthew Kleynhans Location: Western Cape
It’s spontaneous and synchronistic moments like these that characterize and individualize the adventurous spirit of surfing. Riding or even filming the wave of the day can fill the stoke tank for weeks to come and Matt was lucky enough to score a bit of both.
Of course, you can never rule out the eco-warrior slash entrepreneur ripper who usually finds themselves with a somewhat more flexible time schedule and a nose for the lesser known spots. This is where Llandudno local and barrel hunter, Jasper Eales, fitted into the mix and represented, hard.
Surfer: Jasper Eales Photographer: Murphy Murdoch Location: Western Cape
“Ja bru, I’m still grinning from ear to ear from that weekend’s waves. it was spectacular. I was lucky on Saturday as I reckon I managed to sneak into the wave of the day. The swell was coming at such a good angle, the water was so clear and warm and the anemones on the reef were just flaring, so colourful and just such a good vibe. There was quite a crowd which is unusual but when Sunday rolled around and the swell picked up it was just me and Josh Brodie that paddled out that morning and shared a couple of mad waves. Josh was charging hard and inspiring me to pull into some thick ones. We had our share and went in to make a beach breakie and that’s when Dale Staples and Ryan Payne pulled up. We all paddled back out together and shared some of the best waves I’ve ever seen in South Africa. All the boys were charging super hard. It was a day I will never forget”.
Surfer: Dale Staples Photographer: Bernt Bruns Location: Namibia
Generally, there’s little doubt that the essence of an A-class South African surfer is one of a down to earth, approachable and surf obsessed kinda guy. One such gentleman who epitomises this archetype is one of SA’s most well-rounded talents and dedicated wave seekers, Dale Staples. Ducky was (as usual) switched on to the swell and navigated his way into some seriously round and powerful pits. “Myself, Ryan Payne were up at “bleep” with our ladies and were surfing a spot which wasn’t really happening. We decided to take a drive further up and came across this wave and it was just flawless. Not a drop of water out of place. We paddled out and scored some absolutely epic waves. Perfect conditions for 2 days straight and it really was a couple of sessions to remember. I’m definitely sending a couple clips from that day for the Striped Horse competition. Hopefully, I win that thing!” Ja, well judging by the clip above and below, Dale is in with a serious shout for July’s round.
Surfer: Dale Staples Photographer: Murphy Murdoch Location: Western Cape
Green with envy or admiration yet? As displayed by the words and experiences of the legends above, it’s blatantly obvious that SA has a rich abundance of surf and surfers. Just think for a moment, if this happened just a few short days ago then it’s coming around again, soon. It’s the core of the community who use that 6th sense and read between the lines to reap the watery rewards. And who knows… Maybe one of them will walk away as the SHC18 overall winner.
Surfer: Dan Redman Photographer: Jess Rogers Location: KZN