Thursday, 24 January 2019, the coast of the Western Cape, in South Africa, was reached by a big swell, with waves that were even 4 meters high. The concomitant presence of the Cape Doctor, the famous South East wind often blowing over Cape Town, gave us some really amazing sessions. I went out in the morning at Sunset Beach, and in the afternoon at Big Bay, to discovered, then, that I had surfed in the middle of an incredible team of professional riders.
Windsurfing, session reports: Sunset Beach and Big Bay (South Africa), 24 January 2019
After the relatively easy sessions of Paternoster (read the report - in the Italian language, but you can use Google Translate button above the article), on the 24th of January, I placed two sessions, that I won't forget for long.
In the morning I went out, for the first time in my life, at Sunset Beach. This beach is wonderful: white, long and deep, with the unmistakable shape of Table Mountain dominating the scene to the south (soon, I will publish the detailed review of the spot). After scouring the various spots near Table View, I decided to start the day here (even if, since the morning, Big Bay waves were of excellent quality, but with little wind).
However, as I will learn very well in the following days, at Sunset the South East wind, the so-called Cape Doctor, always begins to blow earlier than in the spots further North, initially at 20-25 knots, allowing pure fun sessions in the late morning.
Chronicle of the session at Sunset Beach, on the 24th of January 2019 (morning)
The morning at Sunset was very didactic. I entered the water around at 11.00, with the Ezzy Elite 2018 4.7, and with the Fanatic TE 87 2013 Quad, with the 4 standard fins. The wind in the morning at Sunset proved to be properly strong (I mean not overly strong), while the waves were immediately quite high (2.5 meters, on average). 5/3 wetsuit, bare hands, head and feet.
The exit at Sunset was immediately useful to learn new things, because going out into the sea, with waves progressively increasing from 1 to 3 meters, required malice and experience. The first important thing to bear in your mind is to wait for the end of an important waves set, to leave in a quieter sea. But it is almost inevitable, on days like that one, with such a big swell, to have to overcome waves of 1-1.5 meters, when starting. You do not have to stay hooked to the harness line, you need to pry the board bow, when you reach a wave, and, as it tends to make you point upwind, you have to bear definitly and take good speed (for this reason, you should not be hooked). And if you are lucky enough to meet a stretch of quite flat sea surface, and a nice burst, you need to pump, take good speed and sail as quickly as possible offshore.
But on a day like the 24, it is a must, then, after a short sailing in the open sea, to head back to shore and try to surf the waves. At Sunset, basically, you have a couple of consecutive surfable waves, at about 100-150 meters from the shore. I managed to get some of good size (with my usual problems at the Cut Back, where I arrive slow), also remedying a nice clamorous wipe out! But whoever does not risk, does not get any goal! Sunset beach, however, being a huge sandy beach, is a safe spot, where you immediately feel at ease. However, from this point of view, you must use your head, and do what needed to avoid harmful consequences, as well as having a nice sail and an Ezzy mast ..... Well, the percentage of Ezzy in South Africa is higher than in many other spots, and a there will be a reason for that .... Some riders, even, have only the robust Ezzy mast, but sails of other brands ....
Only on one occasion, my mast top ended to get stuck in the sand, and I risked to break it. Then, I learned early to keep the sail always out of the water, when I was near the shore in shallow waters, and, when a breaking wave came, I learn to throw myself in it, carrying the sail behind me, with the top pointing to the wave.
For a good part of the session, which lasted until about 13.00, I was just the rightly powered with sail, and I went out to sea several times. At 13.00, on the occasion of the last exit, I realized that it had become impossible to hold the 4.7 any longer. Sunset beach works in this way, and, within about an hour, between 12 and 13.30, completely changes face, with the Cape Doctor that usually becomes photonic (for me sometimes so strong not to be able to sail with the 3.7), and it makes the sea choppy, and flattens the swell.
On Thursday, at that point, I made the right choice. I did not rig another sail, but I decided to change spot.
Chronicle of the exit at Big Bay on the afternoon of 24 January 2019
I arrived in Big Bay around at 13.30. One of the many colored parking attendants present on the spot, and with whom, day after day, I knew better and better, found a fantastic parking place for my car, just behind rescue center, and close to the beach. I thought: "it's a sign of destiny, I have to get out at sea here". I gladly rewarded him with a 20 rands tip (about 1 euro ...).
Big Bay conquered me immediately. The waves on the 24th were beautiful, large and clean, and distributed in many places of the bay. The wind was strong but manageable.
So, I rigged the Ezzy Elite 2018 4.2, and the Fanatic Quad, with the same fins set up as in the morning. I entered in the water as much upwind as possible, from the spot beach, as in this area the sea is more sheltered from the rocks that close the bay to the south. And in a day with 4 meters waves, some flat sea to go out is helpful ....
Going to the point, it was a really nice afternoon. Paradoxically, it is easier to catch big waves than small ones. They are steeper and more evident. In fact, often, in Big Bay I ended up finding myself on a wave, even without wanting it. I surfed lots of them. The feeling of starting to descend one of these monsters, taking speed, produces a fantastic thrill. I have still printed in my mind the image of the monster wave that, at a certain point, I saw behind me, and that was trying to chase me.
The spot was more crowded than others (and there will be a good reason ...), but the availability of waves was such that everyone could choose and surf his one.
Later, I discovered, from photos posted on FB by Maleenh, that I surfed in the midst of a considerable amount of champions: Ben Profitt, Baptiste Cloarec, Adam Sims, Mattia Fabrizi, Giovanni Passani, Julien Crd, Ollie Anderson, Rick Jendrusch.
I came out of the water, after my second daily session (and the two sessions in a day will soon become a pleasant habit ...), very pleased to have been able to get out in similar conditions (and stil with no damages to me and my equipment!).
Ah, and I would like to be clear, for all those who tried to make me give up on my intention to come to South Africa, that, in the midst of all those waves, I had absolutely no time to think about sharks at sea. But, on the 24th, sharks will have been busy too with the waves .....
I stayed still a bit of time to take pictures and videos, and to admire the evolution of the pros. At the end of the session, moreover, Big Bay, compared to other spots, offers the added value of giving the opportunity to drink a beer, or eat something in the many bars/pubs/restaurant at the waterfront. And so, you gladly stop until sunset (soon, I will also publish the detailed review of the spot).
After completing the photo and video service you see in the article, I returned to the Guest House with a smile on my face..... The next day Sunset will give us another beautiful exit (read report - in Italian, but use Google translate button again!).
Hang loose. Fabio
(Read also the report of our trip to South Africa - still in Italian, but use Google translate button above the article).
Click here, for the slidegallery of Sunset beach session, on the 24th of january 2019, in the morning.
Click here, for the slidegallery of Big Bay session, on the 24th of january 2019, in the afternoon.
The photos are many, but it is worth to enjoy them, because some are really beautiful. And maybe, I have pictured you!
The video of the sessions