13 April, 2017 13 April, 2017

Throwback Thursday – 1960’s Nahoon Reef

Informed Nahoon local, Glen Hollands, shared the above image from Reef in the 1960’s for our Throwback Thursday. Seeing as he is the author of ‘The Reef: A Legacy of Surfing in East London’, we asked him to share some insight on the break and the predicted conditions for this weekends WQS 1000:

“This iconic pic (featured imagr of pioneer East London surfer Bob Joubert at Nahoon Reef in the 1960s captures the power and the quality of this famous but relatively overlooked break. When Bob, Stan Day, Les Hillier, Terry Prince and a few others first started surfing the Reef in the early sixties it was on cumbersome Hawaiian boards with no fins or leaky Crocker Skis paddled in the manner of the SUP,” said Glen. “The Reef was a remote and forbidding spot with no road access – the intrepid pioneers either paddled from the distant beach or schlepped the massively heavy craft through the bush.”

Bird’s eye view of the Reef. © Andrew Carter

“Later on the early Woodies locally built by Bunny Barnes, at least had a rudimentary fin to allow tracking across the wave face but the unforgiving rocks on the point wreaked havoc with the ply-wood construction. Progression to what is now regarded as a conventional fibre-glass longboard solved some of these problems – the lighter boards paddled more efficiently and were less prone to sinking. But rocker (the curve in the bottom of the board) was still a long way off so disastrous nose dives and rail digs remained a problem – especially on the steep faces of the Reef. Technology and surfboard design has removed many of these handicaps for the surfers from SA and the international circuit who descend on the Reef this weekend. Entrants in the Buffalo City Surf Pro, however, will be faced with similar environmental challenges that the very first Reef crew had to overcome – a point directly exposed to gusty southwesters that produces clean-up sets and a shoulder-wrenching rip.”

Surfers will be hoping for conditions like this opening image from an article on the Reef in issue 40.1 of the Zag. Surfer: Tyrell Johnson / Image By: Louis Wulff

“The Friday warm-up session will be the most taxing with the SW gusting to 36 knots and the swell topping 3 metres,” Glen informed. “The opening heats on Saturday however can look forward to ideal conditions with the swell dropping to 2m, a manageable off-shore and a nice ordered swell lined-up at 14 seconds. Contestants will quickly learn the ground rules of the Reef – paddle wide to reach the line-up, don’t be lured too far out and once you commit to chasing an insider, you better snag it or your paddle starts all over again. The unlucky paddler caught inside might take consolation from the fact that their problems are minuscule compared to the early Reef adventurers who were often dragged up the rocks clinging helplessly to a 14ft wooden craft that exceeded 70kg’s.”

Stay tuned for updates on the Buffalo City Surf Pro presented by Reef starting on Saturday. 

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