Posted by: smithdavid | January 6, 2013

The Sweet Spot

Gonubie Beach is like it is on any day at this time of year: the car park is nearly full; brown and browning bodies are scattered on the white sand near the swimming area; there is a constant flow of people going to and coming from the Musclecracker Cafe. It’s no different from any of the other times I’ve surfed here and I expect the session also to be similar: a mix of messy swell with one or two catchable waves. I park up and get my suit on and then lug The Big Blue Bus out towards the ocean.

Three teenage girls are huddled around two short boards. They must know what they are doing, I think. But then one of them demonstrates a few unsteady pop-ups. I get them to help with the zip of my wetsuit (it gets stuck halfway up nine times out of ten).

gonubie bay

gonubie bay

‘Enjoy yourselves,’ I say over my shoulder as I carry on to the sea.

It is easy to walk to shoulder-depth with the Bus beside me. Before long I see the glassy face of a swell line rising. It’s moving evenly towards me and will break just shoreward of where I am. I turn the Bus and paddle, I feel the pull of the wave. Without thinking I spring up on the board – there is momentum and I stand just as I have landed. I don’t have to shift my weight to give the board speed, it seems to be held in the ever-changing sweet spot of the wave. I keep going until I have to jump off otherwise the fins (there are only two though there should be three) will grind against the sand beneath the water.

Part of me thinks it is a fluke as I take the Bus back out – I was just lucky to get the wave I did. But as soon as I get deep enough another wave forms and I take it and ride to the shore. And then a third straight after that.

The next time I go back out my confidence is up and I paddle further to sea. Another surfer sits on a long board.

‘That’s the right board for today…’ he says , eyeing out the Bus. ‘I’m Jaques, by the way…’ he adds. We sit for a while on our boards while we wait for fresh sets. We talk about how life would be so much better if we surfed every day.

Then Jaques looks up. ‘We need to get a bit further out…’ he says. We go out another twenty yards or so. We aren’t there long and then I see another line of swell rising. It’s similar to the first wave I caught today, only much bigger. ‘It’s all yours…’ he says.

a surfer up at gonubie point...

a surfer up at gonubie point…

I crank the Bus around and make a few strokes and then I know I’ve got it. I rise instinctually again. This time I’m going much faster and I hear the wave crashing behind me. But on I go, past other surfers in the line-up, past swimmers off on the left hand side. When I get to where I caught my first wave the swell re-forms and sends me surging towards the shore. I can see the ocean floor through the clear water. It seems like every minute I have spent in the sea with a board or dreaming of surfing has been summed to make this one moment possible.  And the moment, experienced on a day that initially looked no different from any other, is more exhilarating than anything I’ve experienced before.

I catch a few more in the rest of the session. None of them quite the same as that wave from way out back. When at last I go in, the heavy Blue Bus is light and my aching muscles move with pride. At last I feel like a real surfer.



  1. Dave,

    Wow. I wish I’d been there.

    I recall a wave experience like that when I was young. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t paddle back out. Just let the day end there. Maybe fearful that I’d not recreate anything like it again.

    I like your story better.



    • thanks as usual tom. no doubt you’re had many similar experiences in your time out back since. dave

  2. awesome and well done for persisting ou perd! now the surfing starts!

    • ja ou ry perd. dankie vir die surfie by glen beach. ek is bly dat ek nie geweet het nie van daardie brand se rep voor ons het daar gaan surf!

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