Smoke on the water

“Smoke on the water” {15 August 2016}

The first paddlers were at the backline before sunrise. They were greeted by 15-18ft waves.

It was bumpy and there were ridges moving across the face. As the day wore on, the offshore picked up and the waves got smoother. As it got smoother, so the waves got taller still. By late afternoon Greg Bertish reported that 3 of them were dodging consistent 18-20ft waves in howling winds. “It was life or death” he said,” I shoulder hopped a small one just to get back to the beach, but that was all I got. I don’t think any of us rode a proper wave.”

For the morning session, PHD student Jock Currie had a front row seat to the action. He positioned himself on the inside looking to ride some of the 12ft barrels that were coming through there. As a result, he suffered multiple extended hold downs. “I’m just lucky my leash didn’t snap” he said, “It was a wake up call for me. I’m recommitting myself to preparing better for the big days.”

Skipper Steve Benjamin was privy to the action from his boat stationed in the channel. “Mad-Mike pulled into the craziest barrel!”He shouted excitedly. “That thing was even bigger than the barrel that Albie Layer rode at Dungeons a few years back.” Mad-Mike Balleta made himself a name a few years back for his dare-devil antics in big waves. This was only his second session back in big waves after living inland for a few years.

Goofy footers Paris Basson and Richard Wall took command of the left. The Koopman brothers also made it out back for the first time in almost a year. Both have returned from extended trips to the States. (During this last season 19 year old Ethan Koopman was a regular at Jaws.) “The spread of the line-up was huge” said local carpenter Jason Hayes. “The guys at the back were 200 meters apart from those on the inside. The playing field was also 50 meters wide. It was a difficult day. The experienced older guys who knew where to sit, got the best waves. I think the less experienced guys struggled to position themselves. It showed once again the value of experience out there when the waves get serious.”

After riding the best waves of the day, one surfer ended his session with a board that was creased in 3 places. He told Rebel Sessions photographer Grant Scholtz, “It was the worst beating I’ve had in a long time. My booty was ripped off” he said, looking down at his one exposed foot.
*** A huge thank you to the photographers who recorded the session and for the boat captains who kept an eye on us in the absence of water safety. A special mention for Wild-Man Alan Van Gysen who once again SWAM the line-up shoot photos from the water.

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