Thursday, 11 April 2013

Surfing the Early Days (1975-1980) 2

We grew up without TV that only came later to South Africa. I would wake up before dawn and walk down to Wade`s house and his older brothers or dad would drive the 20km into town and South Beach. We were so surf stoked we would paddle out before the first light of dawn and sit out at backline in the pitch dark. The only way we could tell if a wave was coming was when the horizon which was always lit up with the cargo ships that were always at anchor awaiting entry into Durban harbor, suddenly went black. That meant a wave was coming and we would turn and paddle. We had no wetsuits, no leashes, none of the equipment the groms have now days. Our leash was a bit of surgical rubber with a sock tied to one end which we then tied to our ankles. Surf shops did not even exist yet.

For breakfast we would run to the Bakery and get the reject donuts, Chelsea buns and bread that had just come out of the ovens but had small defects so they were sold to us for almost nothing at the back entrance.

I soon got bored of the waves at South beach as they were pretty soft and easy to surf the next spot north was the Wedge. I loved the Wedge, good surfers hung out there it was a very shallow reef break that broke up close to the old wooden pier. I loved the left that came off the reef and I soon ended up surfing there more than anywhere else. Even though Bruce was always up at the Bay, I was nervous to go there without him all of South Africa`s best surfers hung out there and I needed to get a lot better before I dared paddle out at the “Bay Bowl”.

Espo ruled the wedge, he pretty much ruled everywhere but he was the undisputed king at the Wedge and he took no shit from anyone. Every wave was his and he ripped, we all wanted to be like Espo.

The old wooden pier was an excellent fishing spot and it was always full of fisherman fishing for Shad, Grunter and Pompano on the Wedge reef. This always lead to drama as they would cast their sinkers and hooks right into the middle of the tightly packed bunch of surfers surfing on the reef. The surfers and fisherman have always had a love hate relationship on the Durban piers. The day a fisherman casted a sinker that hit Espo was a day I will never forget. He did not say a word he paddled in, went to his car, which then you could park right in front of the aquarium on the lower Marine Parade. He took out a baseball bat and calmly started at the base of the pier and one by one beat the living daylights out of every single fisherman on the pier. 

Years later, the guys at Garvies took this fun little pastime to a whole new level.


  1. memmories come flooding back,i vividly remember going to vetchies at 3am with the honnesetts to the ski boat club,the ballies would leave us and go fishing,we would wait in the dark cold for the sunrise and paddle out next to the wall.when big ships went by they would create a swell and we would all hussle to get them,great times!

  2. oops...... Garvies mentioned...... shit is coming ha ha

    1. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, fasten your seat belts.

  3. hey clyde. i'm so loving your stories. you're bringing back so many memories that until now have been just buried treasured memories. keep the stories coming, they're fantastic. and by the way, what a tart you were cuzz, i'm shocked, not our sweet Clyde behaving like a super rock star (those stories of Blue Eyes and Big Tits were halariuos!).

  4. That pier is actually Flager Street Pier and not the old west street pier between wedge and Kontiki.

  5. Thanks, I did not know where that pier was, but did know it is not the actuall wedge pier, could not find a real photo and this was the closest I could find. Thanks for the info.