Gallery: JBay’s Opening Swell of the Season

Craig Jarvis

by on

Updated 246d ago

The stretch of coastline from the Cape St Francis lighthouse to the Gamtoos Rivermouth has become a haven for those fleeing the cities.

There's those families and individuals who are remote working, or realised work just sucks and followed The Great Resignation – yeah, they're here, mixed with those who are fortunate enough not to worry about monthly salaries.

Forecast: JBay

A birds-eye view of one of the world's greatest right hand points? Yes please!

A birds-eye view of one of the world's greatest right hand points? Yes please!

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

As a result, this stretch of South African coastline and other parts further down have become incredibly popular. While many people have not enjoyed the invasion, there's still plenty of space for everyone.

Fairly obvious why a load of out-of-town plates were in town though, the first swell of the season was about to hit. Let's break it down.

Zoe Steyn, mid-face gouge. An image that makes you think 'yapoooww'.

Zoe Steyn, mid-face gouge. An image that makes you think 'yapoooww'.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

Day one, Wednesday March 30
The day started off small, and Pepper Street was crowded with people dressed up for the occasion - winter jackets and beanies being the attire of choice. But the swell never really materialised. And sometimes, that's just the way it goes.

There were a few lines during the afternoon and a few desperate takers in the evening, but nothing much. Locals sat tight, knowing the old 'four-hour syndrome' in the area. The wind comes early, swell comes late.

One fine morning.

Day two
The car park and the beach were abuzz that morning. There were lines - long, zippering lines coming off the back of Boneyards before rifling down the point for the gathered riders. The gulley was crammed with surfers.

In the morning light, the surfers started tearing down the line, with solid performances by all the locals, ready for their favourite 300m stretches in the world.

In between Championship Tour events, Matt McGillivray was all over it, getting a few solid hacks under the belt in preparation for Bells Beach.

Matt McGillivray projecting up and away.

Matt McGillivray projecting up and away.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

Supers is Matt's home break, and he has used it in good stead as a training ground. His standout performances on the world tour have always been Bells Beach, Margaret River and Sunset Beach in Hawaii. He is very much at home in big and powerful right-handers, and it comes from surfing Supers and Boneyards when it gets big.

Matt is also the one guy who nearly always pulls in at Impossibles, no matter how deep or impossible it looks. Matt is always setting a line for the barrel at a time when other surfers are gingerly gliding over the top of potential barrels and kicking out. 

James Ribbink, finds his his feet, proceeds to chuck buckets.

James Ribbink, finds his his feet, proceeds to chuck buckets.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

Visitors included James and Chloe Ribbink from Durban and Zoe Steyn from East London, who was killing it on her backhand. Other surfers performing were Warren Dean, Dan Thornton, Bryce Du Preez and Shane Thorne.

The crowds eased late morning, and the surf went glassy. Not razor-lined, but some good overhead glassy, slightly wobbly lines pouring down the point.

Then it went light southerly, something that often happens when there is not a significant frontal movement on the go. The southerly coincided with the next shift. Although the waves were ruffled, there was a nice lip-line, and high-performance surfing dominated this no-barrel session.

The ...ahem... real locals also got in on the action.

The ...ahem... real locals also got in on the action.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

The afternoon session went glassy again, and it was still fun, with the wave count high and everyone getting their fair share of sets.

Older guys and some crew on longer boards ventured up from Tubes. The late session was pretty golden. While not perfect, there were some incredible waves along the car park section, with everyone hustling to get a few under the belt before the sunset.

James Ribbink showcasing style and substance

James Ribbink showcasing style and substance

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

Day three
The wind was fresh offshore, the swell had a better direction, it was still solid, and it was the best day of the swell. Still busy, it's never an easy session at Supers when the crowds are on it.

A thick pack was sitting at the top, and a cluster of groms and lesser-experienced surfers were sitting further down. A few getting some bombs at Impossibles, and a few more at Tubes. 

McGillivray was surfing Boneyards, getting some serious training for Bells in the thick, slabby bombs coming through at the top of the point. There were plenty of barrels through most sections, but Matty was getting those dark bombs that most of us are too scared of.

Shane Thorne will seek out any angle on a JBay mission.

Shane Thorne will seek out any angle on a JBay mission.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

Prime viewing of the JBay conveyor belt.

Prime viewing of the JBay conveyor belt.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

The crowds had moved around a bit by now, with a throng surfing Lower Point and a few other waves around St Francis Bay coming to life and further easing the congestion. 

The vibe in the water was decent for the entire swell, with a tolerant crew and a reasonably polite visiting posse. There were a lot of waves, and the ever-hungry crew were quickly sated with their wave counts, notching up decent tallies to start the winter season. 

Aimee Du Preez is no stranger to big hacks in pumping surf.

Aimee Du Preez is no stranger to big hacks in pumping surf.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

Day four
There was still a short window forecast for Saturday morning, but it was not to be. The onshore was puffing at about 4am. However, the swell had all but disappeared. The local district surf trial for the Nelson Mandela Bay Surfriders was held at Kitchen Windows in 1-2ft onshore and rain conditions, signifying the swell's end.

All in, a good swell but not epic.

It's a positive start to the season, though. With preparations already kicking off for the Corona Open JBay, we can all look forward to some excitement at the best right-hander in Africa. 

Zoe Steyn, mid-face gouge. An image that makes you think 'yapoooww'.

Zoe Steyn, mid-face gouge. An image that makes you think 'yapoooww'.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum

Bryce Du Preez setting up on the re-entry.

Bryce Du Preez setting up on the re-entry.

© 2022 - Mike Ruthnum