Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Bluff Revisited III

Continued.

Ironically, it was competitive surfing that changed the course of Martin’s life.
“I was in my twenties when I realised surfing was a way of getting out of the downward spiral I saw all my other friends in – the drugs and the violence and the fighting. Some of those people just never got out of that. I saw surfing as an excuse to get off the Bluff in a way, and at the time there was a nice, healthy competitive scene in South Africa.”
Martin began competing on the ASP, did well, and later found himself in Europe where he was offered the job as Director of ASP Europe - a position he held for nearly 15 years after he relocated to Spain. Nowadays he is candidly trying to come to terms with his roots and “the stupid shit we did”.

“I never really took drugs, but if you didn’t take drugs or drink or fight, you didn’t fit in, so you were almost forced into that lifestyle on the Bluff,” he says. “That’s just the way it was.”

Words- Will Bendix, editor ZigZag Surfing magazine, stolen from an article in Surfers Journal.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Bluff revisited II

Continued.

By the time Martin finished school, his crew owned the beach, but South Africa was in a state of emergency. Everyone was soon called up for compulsory military service. “People don’t understand how heavy the situation in the country was,” he says. “When I finished the army in 1986, a lot of my friends worked for private security companies and then we were all pretty much armed and dangerous. People would come to the beach with shotguns and 9 mils and baseball bats and just cause shit. That’s when Garvies was just absolutely out of bounds.”
By this stage the Bluff’s reputation preceded itself and anyone coming from the outside knew to tread very lightly. Yet, somehow, Cave Rock avoided the brunt of this vicious closed-door policy.
“The locals at Garvies were always pretty gnarly, and at Ansteys. But the Rock was different,” says Martin. “The road goes right past the Rock and there were always town guys out, so it was never as localised as Corner and definitely not as localised as Garvies. They’d come to the Rock, surf the Rock and they’d go. It was kinda just accepted.”

Martin and friends would even begrudgingly watch the ‘townies’ trade barrels with standout locals like Gavin Spowart and Rudy Palmboom at the end of the road. “We just sat there and bit our lips going, ‘These guys are good’. You learn from watching better surfers. And we learnt a lot.”