24 January, 2014 24 January, 2014

Finding Waves (& Myself) in Cyprus – [ Reader Story ]

After a rough start to the year and finding myself stuck in the middle of Johannesburg during the winter season in KZN, I was forced to find my feet again, wallowing in financial ruin with a heavy heart to boot, while all my friends were getting pitted on a daily basis in clean offshore conditions at home. I was severely depressed and had chosen to remove myself from society for a while and take refuge with my sister Hayley in Bromhof.

JHB is a long way from the banana trees and fine points of the South Coast – © Travis Lupick / Flickr

A few months prior to this, a friend that I had not seen in over 10 years sent news of his engagement and asked me to be his best man. The wedding was being held on the historical, mystical island of Cyprus and it meant a combination of buffalos and leopards would need to be sacrificed to accomplish this honourable request. Gareth contacted me at the peak of my depressing state and wanted to confirm that I was going to take the stand. I couldn’t answer him – there was no way I could afford it and as much as I wanted to live this special moment, I didn’t see a way how.

After a week or two of writing letter after letter to him trying to explain the dark tunnel I had found myself in, I eventually got the message across. I felt like a complete failure as a human being, never mind a best friend. But a few days later, Gareth called and said a family friend had offered to pay for all my expenses as a wedding gift to the soon-to-be-wed couple. I accepted this gracious offer and prepared myself for a trip to a land unbeknown to me except for the history presented in our dinosaur school days.


The Republic of Cyprus is an island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea that lies off the southern coast of Turkey and the western shore of Syria, and has a mixture of Greek and Turkish inhabitants that have shared the island after many years of political controversy since before World War 1. Being an absolute amateur at visualising where everyone belongs on the map of the globe, I couldn’t even tell you off the top of my head where the hell I was headed. I just knew that there were no waves there and it’s a long flight from SA. So I packed my suit and a few clothes and didn’t take anything as much as a wax-comb with me.

I spent five amazing days there with my old friend of 22 years, and on our last day Gareth’s mother had convinced us that there were waves close to the hotel that they were staying in, a 45 minute taxi ride from Paphos where the wedding was held. We took a chance and went searching for something we had no idea was going to be there. We met some really cool local guys at this break. They had some mals and logs and kindly hooked us up with boards. We spent the entire morning getting shacked until it was time to pack and head to the airport to fly home.


Mongoose gets slotted in Cyprus

In a land that has a background of mystical Greek Gods and a history of biblical tales, I believe we were blessed by Aphrodite (Lady of Cyprus or the Roman goddess Venus) who was the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Some say she rose from the sea foam onto the shores of Cyprus, so surfing goes back quite a way in Cyprus if you think about it. Although they used very large clam shells back then judging from the historical artworks you’ll find that document these tales.

If it weren’t for Steve “Muddy” Mudd, Gareth and Lisa Wall, Les and Ollie, Philios Sazeides, Akis Chrysostomou, Panayiotis Mavrokefalos, “Mike” – and the rest of the local surfing community I may not have mentioned here – this amazing trip would not have happened for me. I came home a changed man, I moved back to the coast and found enough work to keep me going, I re-united with my girl and I have been getting waves every day since. It’s experiences like these that can put things back into perspective for you even when you feel you may be at the end of your tether – which is why it is important to never give up. No matter how dark the tunnel, and at some point, if you hold on long enough, you’ll be spat out and realise that you’ve just had the ride of your life.

Goose is back home and enjoying the ride.


Have a story of your own? Send it to the ed on calvin@zigzag.co.za and if we dig it, we’ll feature it online or in the mag.


Check out the footage shot by Project Nadar of Mongoose and his buddy Gareth enjoying some cyan barrels in Cyprus.

About the Author: Familiar with the podium, Brad ‘Mongoose’ Mommsen was one of the country’s most talented juniors while still surfing competitively in the early 2000’s. Raised on the fine sand points of the KZN South Coast, he is as comfortable getting slotted on a dredging overhead bomb, as he is flying through the air going big on a high tide bowl.


  1. Robbie
    25 January, 2014 at 3:03 pm · Reply

    So nice to know there IS a civilised surfing spot somewhere in the world where the loacls are nice civilised people & surfers…..imagine if they turned out to be the “Usual Bunch” who told you to piss of or they would F- – you up & how you are not welcome on THEIR spot of water MMMmmmmmnnnnnnn…make one think…doesnt it ??

  2. Mongoose
    26 January, 2014 at 2:37 pm · Reply

    Robbie, sounds like you haven’t been very welcome at other peoples surf spots? These guys in Cyprus were really cool people stoked on surfing like I’ve never seen before, adopt the same attitude and you’ll find things might work out a bit better. Some spots are quite heavily protected for sure, I agree, it’s always the quality spots too which doesn’t make things easier when you’re so amped to surf good waves and you might live in a cuck area with no surf. I know a spot at my home break that can get quite tense between the locals when it’s firing, never mind a crowd from outta town…

    I got chased out the water in Hawaii surfing at Velzyland in 2000 by a very well known Hawaiin surfer, I had been watching him surf since I was 9 years old lying on my back in front of the TV… I wasn’t hustling or anything, I just did a cutback and apparently my spray hit him in the face so he threatened me when I got back out and told me to leave the water. So I had to paddle in and watch everyone scoring waves and just respect the fact that I had pissed a local off and that was that. Nothing was intentional, I just ended up in that situation which was unfortunate. It was quite hectic paddling past everyone and looking at the fear in their faces after I got my threat thrown at me… people looked scared for me and I was still trying to figure out what I had done wrong. An Ozzie guy came in and told me my spray was the issue on one turn, and that instead of doing the turn where I did I should have waited until I was clear of him… honestly I didn’t even see him until he took off at me.

    I will also never forget getting chased out the water at New Pier, the waves were firing and I had only just jumped off the pier, trying to paddle out still – I was grabbed by one of the older guys and he held my head underwater until I had no breath left in me. I didn’t even get to back-line before the tension of the locals took action on me. I was only a kid at 15 years old. But I understood immediately that on the other side of that grinding bank, people were all tense and having goes at each other… and that’s not the place I wanted to put myself in. So I called it a day. I really battle to get waves in Durban when it’s good, honestly I pick the scraps, but that’s cool cos it’s not my place or my home. It’s theirs.

    I know that if I go to JBay, or Hawaii, or even down the road to New Pier to catch a wave, I know it’s not my turf and I understand the importance of my attitude there. I try to keep myself in-line with what anyone would expect of me if I’m not a local there. I may not be on the best peak or on the set wave, but a few go by that I can get, and I’m stoked to have that.

    I may be able to get away with being cheeky at my own spot, but if I inside-paddle my mates enough or hustle their waves… I wouldn’t be welcome their either.

    No matter who you are we all still have to earn our spot in the line-up, any line-up not just your own. There will always be some bully’s at some spots, just like there were bully’s in school, but I’m not gonna waste too much time bleeting about it, I just accept it and respect that surfers feel so deeply about their home break and that’s cool, they are passionate about the waves they ride at home and they want to protect that. Wouldn’t you agree?

    So I don’t know how positive or negative your comment is, but I’d like to think you’re speaking in general, cos I for one have never threatened anyone in the surf nor told them to leave the water, and it felt like you’re saying I have by what you said.

    Anyway, I hope you get some good waves soon

    • graham george
      27 January, 2014 at 2:41 pm · Reply

      WORD!!!growing up in a small coastal town teaches you these things, unfortunately being a town clown from the city does not! shame,,,,

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