Meeting a surfing pioneer

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While on a short holiday break in the southern part of the Western Cape, I visited one of the pioneer surfers in this country.

He served at False Bay during the 1960s when they, when surf riders used the old long boards. In those days the terms surf riders used were “Hang Ten”, “Hang five” and “Stoked”.

I wished I had a photograph to show you him surfing but alas the photographs that my father took of him in those days are long gone. He told me how my father, who was a newspaper man at the time, would edit his surfing reports (he was a member of the False Bay Surf Riders Association) that he used to supply to a local city newspaper in Cape Town.

The surfing pioneer left False Bay in 1970 and moved up the southern Cape Coast and became a legendary fisherman, skipper, owner of numerous fishing boats and subsequently owner and operator of a fish factory.

I remember those early days as a child and was inspired by the surf riders I saw as well as the surfing magazine copies that my father regularly gave to me. I bought my first long board in 1972 and surfed the Cape Peninsula for many years.

Surfing all over the world has grown enormously since those pioneering days. Apart from surfing equipment, the surf industry industry has provided many business opportunities especially in clothing and footwear manufacture and retailing. In fact, many people wear surf clothing who have never rode on a surfboard or kneeboard.

It must have been wonderful in those pioneering days with a few surfers. Hardly anyone surfed then and when there were good waves those pioneers had it all to themselves. Today even on the marginal surf breaks you find overcrowding. You’ll be lucky to get prime position to ride a wave. Even at the peak wave breaks, surfers have to wait a very long time before they get a chance to surf.

What an opportunity it was to meet again with this surfing pioneer and chat about those amazing early days. You could say it was the “golden era” of surf riding. Surfing was way different in those days from the radical manoeuvres that today’s surfers make on their short boards. But in another sense nothing has really changed – whatever equipment you use, surfing is still one of the most exciting things you can do at the coast experiencing that incredible feeling riding on water powered by the mighty ocean.

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