Posted by: smithdavid | October 6, 2013


Jy wakker, Dawie?’ says EV, sticking his head around the door, grinning. Then he enters, a cup of coffee in his hand. I am already awake, have been for the last twenty minutes or so. Even though it’s five in the morning it’s been light for some time.

‘Surf time…’ says EV. I stretch, drink the coffee, grab my wetsuit from the balcony. Beyond the balcony the Camps Bay hill runs down to Victoria Road. It too early for traffic and I can hear the sea.

‘First time I’ve ever got into a wetsuit in the place I’m staying…’ I say as I suit up.

‘Tough life…’ says EV, grinning again.

the hills of camps bay

the hills of camps bay

We have a banana and a home made smoothie and then we take our boards and start picking our way down the forest path that leads to Glen Beach. This walk down adds extra excitement for me, usually everything is calm in a car park as I get ready to surf, now I have to choose my steps carefully, a false move and I could slip twenty or thirty feet down a slope.

A cyclist whizzes past when we cross Victoria Road and then we’re on the beige sand.

EV puts his hoodie on. ‘Maybe I’m becoming a woes as I get older but this Cape Town water is bleddy cold…’

‘Ja, maybe you are becoming a woes,’ I say.

Out in the ocean, a hundred yards or so away, a wave jacks up and then breaks, forming a clean tube as it does. I start thinking about getting in a barrel again, thinking that from here it looks quite small but when we’re in the heart of it, it might just be big enough.

The water takes my breath away when we wade in. Even when knee deep I can feel the power of the onrushing, broken whitewater. EV starts paddling, duck-dives under the first wave that comes his way. On the 8’2″ rental, I have to go over. Besides, I can’t duck-dive yet anyway.

surfers in at glen beach

surfers in at glen beach

I get knocked back but keep going. The next wave is viscious and knocks me from the board. The next breaks on me before I have time to get back up. But I persist and eventually I’m sitting on the board, watching as waves smash down towards the shore.

EV goes for a wave. I notice how quickly he has to pop-up. He never gets properly set though and he tumbles into the wave and gets tumble dry-ed for about 20 yards before finally surfacing.

I make a half-hearted attempt to paddle for a wave but it seems to take only a second from when it started jacking up to when it breaks. For a moment I can see down the face and I tense up. A six foot wedge of sea has sucked up the water in front of it so that as it curls and crushes down there is only about three feet of cover to the ocean floor. This is probably only the second time in two years of surfing that I’ve been genuinely fearful that I might get hurt.

I paddle farther out, praying that I’ll make it before the next express wedge catches and pulverises me.

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