29 October, 2014 29 October, 2014

Headspace – by Gareth Billimore

A quick getaway in a van sets the scene for ‘Headspace’, which is Gareth Billimore’s entry into Write to Surf. It’s also the winner of the fourth hamper sponsored by Billabong (see below for details). Winning entries are usually published in the magazine, but due to space constraints in the latest issue it now lives right here, online.


HEADSPACE – by: Gareth Billimore


Cold wrapped its icy fingers around the cast iron gate. Between it and the neighbouring wall, a tall figure slunk quietly, undetected, through the last moments of darkness. His heartbeat drowned out the street silence and with each quickening breath, the longest night of the year drew its last. Alerted by dancing shadows, the engine of the awaiting getaway van clicked over into a low, unannounced drone. Fear prickled purposefully around his neck like a spider creeping toward its prey. In an instant a security light blazed on, exposing him and showering the rest of the gang in a flickering flash.

A door slid open ferociously, rocking the heavily loaded vehicle violently as he sprinted towards it. Four gaping sets of eyes, each mirroring his terror, willed him into the now moving van. Jumping in he shrieked “Go! Go! Just go! Put your foot down! Keep going! Go, go, go, C’MON JUST DRIVE MAN! DRIVE!”

The van screeched and lurched away, shattering the Saturday suburban silence. Loaded with loot and lout, it erupted into cheers, high fives and babbled excitement as the exhilaration of the getaway took hold, with some escapees even foaming at the mouth.

“That was close!” exclaimed the Scribe, a nervous ball of over-thought plans wedged in his throat. “Who knows how long it would’ve taken me to get away if the kids had seen me”.


The van raced eastwards from Cape Town without fixed plans, destination unknown. Five mid-thirty juveniles, all peeling off the pressures of professional life into a blender of possibility, celebrated a week of local government sanctioned freedom well beyond the warming Riviersondereind skies.

The van, arranged by the Cunning Entrepreneur, was brand-new and state of the art. Until it had the port side column of seats stripped out and bar-fridge installed, across which no fewer than ten surfboards rested, strapped in like babies. Cases of beer and bags filled the open spaces. The Ad-Exec pumped some tunes of yesteryear and after brief consultation with the surf forecast, the newly formed democracy voted point break bliss as the denomination for our Haj, reeling right handers were to be the air each of us were surfacing for.

The Guru guides us to a lesser known vantage point, in order that we may take in the first sights of a perfect winter ground-swell at a well celebrated right hand point-break. As a dedicated surf-shop owner, the irony was not lost on me that this man probably spends less time in the ocean than a Sandton suit. I pray the ocean pours favour upon him in return for the hours spent serving other surfers. Our first glance doesn’t disappoint. In fact it sends five grown men into a frenzy of air guitar, fist pumps, whistles and running on the spot. In the car. While it was still moving.


The door slides open and our Ad-Exec is out snapping away with his Canon long before the hand-brake has been applied. An over-excited smile engulfs the Cunning Entrepreneur’s face, his bellowing laughs of disbelief threatening to swallow his head whole. His eyes tell a story of late nights, dedication and the stresses of accountability. He smiles knowingly, recognising the antidote lay a mere hundred yards off, in the Indian Ocean.

The scene is mesmerising. Perfect waves chase each other down some pretty fine geology, glorious sunshine enshrining an unwritten constitution promoting enjoyment and relaxation. A wry smile creeps around the Thoughtful Creative’s lips as he takes it all in, ‘Hashtag paradise, hashtag perfection’ he laughs mockingly at the modern day vernacular he’s left 800 kilometres behind.

A frenzy ensues, clothes flying in every direction, wetsuits put on backwards in haste to make it out into the water before the sun-sets. The Scribe tests the bar fridge and cracks a frosty, relieved and exhilarated by the sight of close friends swept away by euphoria . The Ad-Exec still has one hand on the trigger and the other suiting up, an ingenious mind working overtime as it’s programmed to do. “If you could just bottle this, all of this”, he exclaimed, “you could sell it to the ous in Josie and Bloem my bru”, snorting excited laughter at the thought.



A new day dawns. It’s another perfect, still winters morning and it also happens to be Father’s Day. The Thoughtful Creative and I skip over the neatly manicured grass mound leading to the boardwalk, overlooking the ocean. We catch a glimpse of a surfer speeding toward the rising sun. “Your dad would have loved this”, I offer, conscious of the raw wounds. “Yeah, absolutely”, he nods quietly, thoughtfully. The waves are smaller today but no less perfect and our Thoughtful Creative would later that morning be seen sliding gracefully across a sheet-glass wall of water, paying homage no-doubt to his late father, who loved doing the same.

We had become acquainted with a new sense of accepting whatever the ocean presented us with. The phones were put away as we rose to each day, playing whatever was in front of us. Trips over sand-dunes and long nervous looks at sharky beach breaks. Long lunches iced with a few beers, slipping out into the shorebreak before sunset and putting the beautifully hand-crafted wooden hand-guns the Guru had provided to the test. Thigh burning rides, short sharp rides and dances across the rock shelf. Lazy afternoons spent staring at the sky. We had it all.



The Quiet American blows into town, mid-week. I find him sitting serenely in a tiny, retro coffee bar, sipping arguably the greatest Americano ten Rand can buy. On the wall above him hangs an antique longboard alongside other surf contest memorabilia. ‘Yeah-man!, he smashes a high-five, standing to greet me, “it’s totally firing, let’s get out there!” His Californian enthusiasm is a welcome tonic, there would certainly be a few extra beer bottles around the braai the next morning.


Seven days later, five men walk into a Wimpy. It sounds like a joke – it was. None could move their arms through ninety degrees. Walking like penguins, they ordered coffee and shuffled to a table to make one final group decision for the week. The waves were still pumping but physically, they could stand no more. Surfed-out, I believe the saying goes. And with that, the van pointed itself Westward, shuttling five rejuvenated minds back to their reality.

Click here to check out all the entries so far >>


Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity.

For the next three issues the Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Boardies; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 1 x Set of Kinetic Racing (KR) fins. After which the hamper will get a shake-up with new product of equal value for the following three issues.



  1. Fanie de Villiers
    29 October, 2014 at 12:26 pm · Reply

    Disturbingly similar lyrical style to the Cyrus Sutton narratives. Also, the whole ‘escape-my-overworked-executive-city-existence-for-the-coast’ is as cliche as the feeling of nausea that’s felt by every Seal Point local when the CA-plated Van offloads itself into the carpark.

    • Gareth Billimore
      30 October, 2014 at 9:11 am · Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Fanie. Wikipedia reckons Cyrus Sutton has won all sorts of awards so will be sure to check out his vids. You’re welcome in Cape Town anytime, come and share some icy barrels with us. Bring your 4/3, the Atlantic is back to it’s biting best.

  2. Andre Van Kets
    30 October, 2014 at 10:26 am · Reply

    Nice work Gareth. Great memories of good times.

    No harm in being compared to Cyrus Sutton — multi-award winning filmmaker and writer. I’ve enjoyed your past write-to-surf entries. Each an improvement on the previous submission. Keep it up.

    And as sure as lawyers gonna litigate… Haters gonna hate.

  3. Rian
    17 November, 2014 at 2:25 pm · Reply

    I hate lawyers…

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