SPOT ON SPOT: A Revisionist Glance at Historic Surfing Locales: J Bay
Jeffrey’s Bay, J Bay, Super Tubes, Magna Tubes, The Point. The World’s Most Perfect Right.
The most notorious locals at sea are sharks. South Africa has very serious shark issues, with a lovely variety of tropical and temperate sharks – vegan and carnivore – along both Capes. Jeffrey’s Bay is White Shark territory. Sightings are common, and all South African surfers (and some visitors) have shark stories. According to Will Bendix, editor of South Africa’s ZigZag Magazine: “The double shark attack that everyone has seen video clips of was at Nahoon Reef and not J-Bay. The kid involved was Shannon Ainslie, and was flipped a couple metres in the air, which is the video they got. A few months (maybe more) later, Shannon was back in the water, competing in a Billabong Junior Series event at the Point (which you can ride right through to from Supers when the swell’s macking).”
Another kid got bumped off his board by a large White, all the kids in the water freaked…except Shannon, who didn’t bail but rather went to the other kid and helped him calmly paddle in. Serious balls and care for your fellow surfer I reckon! The kids were so freaked when the contest resumed the next day that Billabong marketing manager and J-bay local and crazy guy, Brad Bricknell, floated around in the water during their heats as a decoy to make them feel safer!
Hawaiian surfer Brock Little has a story from the 90s of watching a local surfer praying to whatever newfound God he could conjure as he was circled by a very large Great White Shark. That prayer worked, but others have not been so lucky.
As for the local surfers, when J Bay is really pumping, the ocean provides more than enough energy to satisfy a typical crowd, although things get a little aggro around contest time, when four dozen of the world’s best surfers are warming up. According to a longtime J Bay local who doesn’t participate in or approve of such actions: “The JayBayU are a nasty bunch of unfriendly locals who willingly beat the crap out of those who don’t behave themselves.”
So try not to make noises like a wounded fish or act like a squid. Show respect to the locals, etc etc. Get one sweet one and it will be worth the travel and the danger.
Significant Moment(s) in History:
Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer gave the surfing world its first glimpse at the quality of the swell coming out of the Southern Ocean. While Mike and Robert were surfing a spot called Cape Saint Francis, surfers figured that swell had to be mind-bending in other places, and after 1964 South Africa became a travel destination.