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Surfing Stories - South Africa

Wild Coast by Roger Smith

The day begins with a snore. But we manage to get out of bed.  The wind is a light offshore land breeze after yesterday's south westerly blow. The water hasn't warmed up yet, as we need another day of offshore to lift it to comfortable spring suit conditions. 

Today we are surfing wild spots on our Wild Coast...

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An endless succession of points and bays provide us with many alternatives, and a co-operative ocean supplies the lines...

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It' hot. Water therapy is required...


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Our first stop provides the goods...

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Some clouds roll in. This point is seldom surfed.   We have it to ourselves...

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Wave after wave...

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Our next stop is another point which allows some hot dogging...

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Four sessions and we only managed to surf two points. Well, there's always tomorrow.

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Summer lines by Roger Smith
When spring comes to an end at the south eastern tip of Africa, the swell doesn't stop coming. Whereas in winter swell tends to come from the southwest, with the onset of summer, swell lines tend to come more from the south and east. This change means that they hit our coast more directly.

roger04g2.jpg (183331 bytes)Warm water and clean summer lines!

Summer waves are not as intense, but the lines are still there. Our swell producing engine in the Roaring Forties works throughout the summer holiday, with the assistance of it's cousins to the east in the southern Indian Ocean, the tropical cyclones

roger05g2.jpg (82611 bytes)Misty warm morning lines, and empty lineups.

In November, the sun beats down, and the water is warm. Cold fronts are not cold, and their scouts, the coastal lows bring warm south westerly offshores. The onshores are gentle and lazy, tending to wake up late, and rather speed the waves up by making the lips crumble a little.

roger06g2.jpg (64824 bytes)Summer lines are good enough for me.

roger07g2.jpg (37617 bytes)Light offshore, bit of swell, say no more!
Spring surf report from down south by Roger Smith, surf guide with dawn patrol

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With winter about to expire, we are in two minds whether to celebrate. The days are longer, but the swells are not as big and clean. Gone are the long lasting land breezes and the seven day offshores. But we shouldn't complain as the onshore only comes up now and then. And the surf is still cooking!

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East London beach break

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The swell keeps on coming. Not as big as winter, but still fun.

Another beach break right in East London.  The points are also going off. Those points that don't like the south westerly swell of winter now produce the goodies...

A little cover up at a secret point near East London

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  And there are more lefts!

Uncrowded river mouth break

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Goofy and loving it!Thick lipped beach break left  - The water's warmer and the breezes are balmy.  

Africa has it's problems, but for a surfer - none...  

Roger runs Dawnpatrol, a surf tour operation based in East London, on the south east coast of South Africa . The Roaring Forties produce endless swell which wraps around this coast to be fanned by the prevailing south westerly offshore wind. The Dawnpatrol team take their guests to all the best spots on this coast, and also visit J-Bay when the swell picks up.

JUST ANOTHER DAY by Julian Bray, surf guide
Terry and Fritz are from Virginia Beach on the east coast of the US and spent ten days with Dawnpatrol on surf safari in South Africa. They had been wanting to visit SA for the past ten years. These two Americans are well travelled, having visited numerous countries in search of surf, and were stoked with the whole Dawnpatrol experience....... And the surf, in East London, where Dawnpatrol is based. Terry and Fritz had "the best surf ever" (in their words).
After days of cooking surf in East London, our sources confirmed what we were expecting....

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When the Roaring Forties gets busy generating large swell, Dawnpatrol begins a road trip to Jeffrey's Bay and our two amigos were about to have "the waves of their lives."
The three-hour drive down the coast to J Bay is best traveled at night, arriving at Supertubes car park just before first light. Terry and Fritz are like two teenagers, bubbling over with excitement, enthusiasm and a degree of caution. "How big will it be? What about the crowds?" The conversation along the way is focused on the following two days of surfing.
Before we know it, I am turning the van into the service station in J.Bay for a quick cup of coffee to warm the boys up. Dawn is 45 minutes away. The excitement grows. We were sitting in the van at Supertubes car park, with just enough light to see 4 foot waves peeling down the point, with a light offshore. "Time to surf!"
We are in the first in the line-up. There are some good waves coming through and Terry and Fritz are on it. After every wave, Terry would paddle up to Fritz and say, "Fritz we're surfing J Bay man! Can you believe it!"
After a few hours of surfing we are back at the van in the car park, smiling broadly. The guys are stoked and tell me about every wave they caught. "It's so fast and make able"
"Unbelievably hollow." "The waves are so long". Half an hour later with a plate of bacon and eggs in front of them, the smiles are still there and so is the stoke
The afternoon session is just as good but I am already thinking of tomorrow ........... Terry at Supers.jpg (211915 bytes)
For me, waking up before dawn is second nature. I'm checking out the surf and it's double overhead and straight off-shore. That's what greets our tourists. "I can't believe it!" exclaims Fritz. "I hope my shoulders can take another paddling beating!"
As the day un-folds, Supertubes delivers again, but it just   gets better and better. The wind backs off slightly and the swell continues to pick up.

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Paddling back up the point, I see Terry lining up a barrel on a sweet wave. Yeah, he got barrelled on that one. He kicks out next to me and shouts out: "That was the best wave of my frikking life!" Quite a statement for someone who has been surfing for 37 years.

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Driving back home late that afternoon, I couldn't help but smile, thinking of the waves we had and the excitement and stoke on Fritz and Terry's faces. Although now, they were tired, I could see that familiar shine in their eyes. It's the look of having had sick surf and been totally blown away by achieving a ten year goal, to surf J Bay. As we headed off over the hill, Fritz and Terry turned around in their seats, to see the sunset over Jeffrey's Bay. "We'll be back." Says Fritz. "For sure!" replies Terry.
Remember, it's just an ocean away.
Roger and the other Dawnpatrol crew stayed in East London. "We'll have better surf here!" was the consensus. While Terry, Fritz and Julian were in J-Bay this is what they were surfing in East London:

Now you know why they stayed!

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Winter Solstice in South Africa  
Surf report by Roger
The days get longer from today onwards. First a couple of seconds, and then a minute or two each day. More water time for us soon.

This winter, as is always the case, our days start with a land breeze which is cool, and offshore. The offshore then picks up and becomes a warm northwester, or a westerly. 

Clean long period swell rolls in and we sample the fruits...

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The water temperature hovers around 17C so sometimes a spring suit must make way for a full suit...

This is not J-Bay, but we can't complain!

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Roll on summer!

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Roger's camera  
I surf with it round my neck (when I remember it!) as it's the size of a large instamatic. But I pay dearly for those shots as I get beaten by the waves if I try to get up close (remember both hands required, so I sometimes can't duckdive in time!)
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South Africa, East Coast.  

Demise of the Ostrich Man by Glenn Hollands, raconteur extraordinaire and surf guide

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Roger ‘I’m too sexy for my cowboy hat’ Smith recently graced the quiet pastures of Ocean Glen with his nationally acclaimed rendition of the ostrich mating dance. Smith complained of the poor turnout by the OG locals who are usually game for any new thrill from diving sinkers out the rip current to drag racing the municipal honey-sucker. Smith’s young apprentice and son, Adrian, can be seeing hugging the verge before plunging into the welcome shelter of some convenient fynbos. Adrian denied any blood ties to the lanky Smith but did venture the opinion that the veteran Ostrich impressionist had been bounced off the OG sandbar once too often. More experienced members of Dawnpatrol are confident that Smith’s real sporting future awaits him in the small Australian drag bar that achieved fame in that great Aussie epic "Priscilla .Queen of the Desert."

IG peaks.jpg (74735 bytes)IG Peaks

Meanwhile other members of the Dawnpatrol team sought refuge behind their trusty surf-wagon and tried to distract Smith by hooting at the odd left and right barrel that casually folded over the shallow OG sandbar.
Unfortunately for the intrepid wave-seekers, Smith had already confiscated all available leashes in order to fashion himself a set of highly elastic suspenders. Disaster was narrowly averted when the ageing cow-queen tried to appropriate the throw-net of 179kg Francois Holdstock in order to fashion a pair of fishnet stockings. Holdstock, who still turns out occasionally for the Kaisers Beach fifteen advised Smith that while the local community adopted a certain tolerance towards cross-dressing, they were "certainly not going to sit still while their beloved ‘Volstruis’ was lampooned by some over-the-hill surfer."
In a desperate attempt to console the now distraught Smith the Dawnpatrol team rushed him off to the reassuringly named Queensberry Bay where he was allowed to execute his creaky bottom turns….
and flounder around near the lip … Roger QB turn.jpg (61223 bytes)Roger QB turn
Pumped up after his Queensberry session, Smith managed to shake his ‘protectors’ to wonder demented through the lonely East Coast dune fields for 3 weeks. Fortunately the Dawnpatrol team was able to easily track Smith’s Ostrich like spoor -shown on left…

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Finally the DP team decided that the unfortunate Smith was beyond redemption and should be returned to the scene of the crime (in a shiny Toyota to avoid recognition by the locals)
Smith is pictured here looking imploringly into the camera whilst trying vainly to release the 40kg weight belt welded shut around his waist. Apprentice Adrian bows his head in a short prayer before casting the troubled bird-man into the Ocean Glen rip-current. Word has it that following this not -quite -human sacrifice, the point at OG has been epic for at least a month.

The bay.jpg (80198 bytes)The Bay

Louis and Roger run Dawnpatrol, a surf tour operator based in East London on South Africa’s south east coast. They and their support team move up and down the coast, surfing the best waves on offer between Jeffrey’s Bay and the Kwa-Zulu Natal South Coast.

South Africa, East Coast.  

Adrian the goofyfooter.   by Louis, surf guide

Roger’s son Adrian is a lucky lad. Since starting surfing a couple of years ago, this 13 year old has surfed countless breaks with the chaps from Dawnpatrol.
Mostly the right points stacked one after another along our coast within 30 min drive from our homes in East London, South Africa. But also the grinding rivermouth break at a nearby town which I won’t name, and J-Bay of course!

Adrian kooking down.jpg (78026 bytes)ADRIAN

Adrian gets around. When he’s not at school, he’s out with me, his dad, or one of the other surf guides. Because we only surf the best on offer, Adrian gets to surf cooking right points, bowling beach break left and rights, and left and right breaking reefs.
As a result he has an unfair advantage over his friends who invariably have to be content with surfing a local beach break in town, when they can convince mommy to give them a lift!
Because he surfs only the best, his style is distinctively "big-wave". Drawn out bottom turns and long roundhouse cutbacks are the major components of his repertoire, although he is also starting to turn under the lip and float on sections.

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On the rocks BR.jpg (71897 bytes)On the rocks

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This is a good kid, who suffers our grumbling about this and that with a brave face. No complaints from him either when he is asked to carry boards, hang wetsuits, and guide visiting guests in safely to dry land if they choose to rest their surfed-out arms, halfway through his surf session.
Adrian is stoked! When we hesitate, he asks why we are not all paddling out "because there are waves". His enthusiasm is contagious, and as a result we have him to thank for many great sessions, which might not have been, had it not been for his urging.

Adrian is in training. Who knows, maybe sooner than later, Dawnpatrol will be his!

Dawnpatrol is a surf tour operator based in East London, South Africa.

We take you to countless surf spots on our south east coast, which is blessed with constant swell, and prevailing offshore winds. Check out our site at