Monday, April 27, 2009

!Yub Yna Enohpllec Morf snhaK

I was at Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, for the first time in yonks, and I had dug out the ancient big-wave gun for the occasion. That extra length is just right for that down-the-line speed, you know what I’m saying?

           When I came back from Hawaii in 1995, one of the first things I did was ask shaper Greg Smith to recreate the big-wave performance board I’d ridden for all those months on the island. A swallow-tail 18.5” wide and 7’2” long, with a spray design in ANC colours on the underside, it’s the kind of board everyone was riding on the North Shore, but that you never see in SA.

            Meanwhile, everyone should be riding J-Bay on something like that. It lets you make every section, gouge turns and keep projecting down the line, gives you stability in the tube, helps you get onto waves earlier, so you can sit right out the back and pick off the bombs. It’s the path.

Tragically, now, with me living in Joburg and only getting to surf every December, the trusty gun hadn’t seen much action.

So I get the boards out the back room, jam it in the car and hit the Bay of Jays. It’s a Thursday and, sure enough, there’s waves.

Now, I’ve been out of the surfing loop for so long I’m an embarrassment. My boards actually have fins glassed onto the underside of them. They’re all yellow and stuff, and hey! What’s that!

I tell you what that is. Some time in the Nineties, when I last went on a surf trip with the big ANC board, I’d placed a sheet of newspaper between my two surfboards to stop the wax from the shortboard melting onto the bottom of the longboard. But it hadn’t helped. The Sex Wax melted through the newspaper and left a layer of wax on the bottom of the long board, complete with a negative print of whatever was on the newspaper!

It was like the Rosetta Stone, man, like hieroglyphics, a message from the past! Imprinted on the bottom of my surfboard in smudgy black mirror writing and surf wax, was a record of my former life. A back-to-front page of the newspaper from the last time I had seriously gone surfing.

What did it say?

It was an advert, screaming, “!SNHAK MORF ENOHPLLEC YNA YUB” Which means “Buy any cellphone from Kahns!” Do that and you could win a new Ford Tracer worth R40 000! “Get to Kahns Cape Rd today to meet the MTN Gladiators!”

Next to that is a fragment of a report about some kind of mining accident “…assistant could warn the others,” I thought I could make out. “They were trapped between the explosion and the rock… …bo-Ngcuka said a full investigation would be conducted.”

What you reckon? 1998?

In an hour and a half, I caught four waves and rode one of them past the parking lot. I was a bit rusty. I think that board was too.

And a bit sluggish from all that wax on the bottom.


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