26 July, 2012 26 July, 2012

Where Wine Meets Waves – an ode to the Boland

Down the ocean road we go.
N1, N2, engulf.
Over and over again
Sometimes a two-minute drive, other times a full day mission.
East, West or local.
This is the Boland.
Where sand, sharks and senses fly.
From the grom going for her first surf lesson, to the boys in the Overberg doing tow-outs.
From young Adin winning SA Champs to Oom Joe cruising on his sun-stained Longboard.
From red to white wine.
With or without cellphone reception.
Welcome to our semi-sweet home.

Bags are packed to reach fine waves, and moonlight praised when we leave.
Here we are blessed with the consistency of a wave rich coastline.
Open for exploration, or comfort. Wherever your taste or crew might lead.
And for the record, the Boland is actually bigger than just the Strand…

Strand has deservingly matured into a bustling wave community. Natural Energy surf shop has been serving the line-up for over 30 years. On a 3ft day at Pipe you’ll be astonished with the young talent pool emerging from this False Bay town.
Good roots, fun waves and very consistent. Mostly crowded.
But when Neptune smiles, Strand can also deliver some good surf, like any other community surf spot.

Part of the Caves crew - wine-maker Johan Reyneke, Ian Ihlenfeldt, Phil Nel, Tommy Kruger, Rigard Smit, Adin Masencamp, Steffen Burrows and David Burrows.

Image 25 of 25

The greater Boland area roughly includes:
The West Coast, starting from Blouberg and running up North,
and from the East coast starting at Strand, and running up North towards Still Bay.
Simply said, the Cape Peninsula falls under Western Province, and the rest under Boland. Confused? Well, I’ve lived here all my life, and I’m still not sure where the exact Boland borders are.

What I can tell you, however, is that my friends and I regularly frequent a piece of coastline over 200km long, mostly on the east side, as did the ballies before us, and the hippies before them.

The bigger surfing world got a glimpse when Twiggy raised the curtain briefly with his R30k-winning  One Wave Wonder barrel in 2011, somewhere in the Boland.

I’m proud of this underground privilege, where we can still experience the pleasure of trekking down a path, finding an empty line-up and sharing the moment with a few mates. Look, I’ll be honest with you, surfing this lesser coast is mostly a ‘dik’ mission.
Sometimes the journey is worth more than the surf. Especially with the ever-rising petrol prices!

The big rewards come when you start breaking the comfort zone.
Taking the risk and reaching for the short or the long.
The big or the hollow.
The art of the packed-car-fart.
The swearing (in Afrikaans, ma se kinders)
The time spent …

Rigard Smit is amongst a group of lighties who have been stepping it up and turning heads. Powerful carve at Caves.

We’ve hosted many a surfer from around the globe in our house. Earlier this year we took in American surf travel writer, Evan Morgan. He had literally just got off the plane from Indonesia earlier that morning, and now found himself in a car, speeding off around the bay. “Yes, this is False Bay… Yes that is Seal island… Yes that is Caves…”, I answered around the Clarence pass. It was truly amazing that he still wanted to tag along with us after his jet-lagged journey. All elements took us to an isolated wave that breaks in front of a dry slab.
I kept that bit of information from him until we rounded the last bay on foot however. Thought it was a merciful way to break it. His senses and adrenaline were already buzzing with the 30-minute walk through the marshes, fynbos and reed. (And I probably never should’ve mentioned the Puff Adder snake risk earlier.)

“Look bro. I don’t want to freak you out, but that’s a dry rock in front of the take-off spot. But don’t worry. I haven’t seen anybody hit it.” (yet…) It felt like a sick joke to bring him here for his first surf. “Sorry bro.” I said again as a 6-foot wave imploded and spat over the jagged reef. His eyes pulled tight. There was no turning back now, we all knew it. The waves were firing.

For a moment the reality of our ‘normal’ flashed bright in his face.
Manic, ‘mal!’ (Probably his first Afrikaans word learned), yet luring and inviting.
“So you’re sure there are no lions in these bushes behind me?” he finally stabbed jokingly back at me. It ended up being one of his best sessions during his three month stay in South Africa.

Surfing, and what comes with it can’t be explained in a few words.
The same goes for the Boland.
Mostly an ocean-sided journey,
a conversation with the unobserved.
Another place.
Another taste.
Nog ‘n land.

If you’ve got the time, the petrol budget, and the patience for it, there’s plenty of good waves to be found lurking in the shadows.


  1. patflan
    27 July, 2012 at 4:10 am · Reply

    Nice work Phil. Your Boland space is a rare and beautiful place.

  2. Jess
    27 July, 2012 at 7:23 am · Reply

    Awesome piece Phil!!

  3. Grommenator
    27 July, 2012 at 10:00 am · Reply

    This is refreshing and Sick.Good article Phil!

  4. charlie
    27 July, 2012 at 10:17 am · Reply

    love it.

  5. Les
    27 July, 2012 at 10:44 am · Reply

    Well written and hits the sweet spot. Brings back lots of memories.

  6. Henk Van Der Walt
    27 July, 2012 at 8:48 pm · Reply

    Los die “n”. Nog Land

  7. Martin
    28 July, 2012 at 12:46 pm · Reply

    Cool Phil! Good portrait!

  8. loop
    30 July, 2012 at 11:51 am · Reply

    Eish some of those spots look dodge! that Pringle Bay shot…No thanks.

  9. Coach Lu
    30 July, 2012 at 12:09 pm · Reply

    Geen land soos die Boland

  10. hof
    30 July, 2012 at 8:44 pm · Reply

    you never mentioned anything about wine in this article… haha

  11. JR
    2 August, 2012 at 10:01 am · Reply

    Go Phil, nice artikel bra!

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