17 December, 2015 17 December, 2015

Catch the Wind, Catch the World – by Bismarck Meyer

A shark sighting, Donald Trump and John John’s new film got Bismarck Meyer thinking. ‘Catch the Wind, Catch the World’ is the title of the Boland local’s third excellent entry into Write To Surf – Zag’s surf journo competition with epic prizes by Billabong up for grabs (see details below).




So I watched John John Florence’s View from a Blue Moon, and it made me think.

What struck me was the professional lensmanship of the cinematographers, the way they caught drops of water, idolised John John and blew us all away with the soundtrack, imagery and a damn good marketing mix.

As surfers we chase that which is close to our hearts – the thing that catches our wind. Wind fills sails, it creates waves and momentum – it is also sometimes just wind.

Donald Trump, from the ‘Windy City’ is doing that right now – is it a campaign strategy for his Republican run or is it what he truly feels and represents? One needs to ask the American mogul himself. Either way he’s blowing a lot of wind the same as John John’s movie does. And he’s winning because he’s doing what nobody else has done before. View From a Blue Moon has done this – shot, stylized and put together seamlessly; it’s almost unreal.


I wonder what marketing and puffery does to our public (mis)conception of what is really going on? The crisis in the world with refugees, their honest plight, the ISIS threat and whether it really is a threat is at the forefront of our minds, and we find ourselves so consumed by worry and stress. Real or not.

Take a backseat and review this – it’s the only way to separate the worry from the WAY – and the way is definitely the footprint in the sand; a path facing forward. Surfing always faces forward, and although not exempt from worry, it allows us to break away from the mirrors and cameras. I surf because I want ‘The Purpose and Place’ question to be answered by the mere action of what we all do as wave riders.

As such, I went to Kogelbaai last week and hit the lookout point to see the sea. What I saw was real. Cross shore, crystal clear water and a handful of surfers out. They were catching a few, missing a few and trying again…as we all do. At the time I was the only guy in the parking lot watching this lot together with the Shark Spotter. His post was more permanent and his eyes were trained on the lineup. I, in the meantime, was merely an observer – not there for any other reason than my own selfish want for waves. His was more honed; a job and responsibility towards the City of Cape Town and the beach and people he watched.


As the sun burnt a hot golden touch to the water and caused my eyes to narrow and become slits, I really wanted to see a shark. I know this is not the best intention to throw out to the surfers below, but I was there selfishly and I had never seen water more turquoise or more beautifully suited to a sighting. I told myself, “naa, it’s not going to happen…and it’s better that way.”

Lo and behold, it was not even two minutes after the thought entered, exited and disappeared that the piercing sound of the spotter horn broke all pandemonium loose. I heard it like a gut-wrenching pull on my innards. My entire belly went into spasm and then adrenaline kicked in. After a quick assessment of the clear water below I followed the spotters hand and horn, from the wooden platform as his viewpoint, and saw with dismay and a rising sense of panic that this was indeed real – no hoax, no silly false sense of stupid falsehood.

Dammit that shadow was a shark! And a BIG boy at that (3.5m). It was entering Dappat se Gat from left to right and looking slow and disinterested. Little do we realise at how quick these creatures actually move. Although languid and gentle in their stroke, these majestic predators are privy to their surrounds and watermen they are. Surfers in grey suits. Sh*t, cr*p! I found myself running towards the Shark Spotter. He was in full flight mode as well – his actions well versed and his movements were a man in motion – doing what he was trained for. Horn, Radio, Eyes and flag in hand the man was multi-tasking. I merely came to help; and he saw this. “Throw this flag up now,” was all he said and unto his bidding I was made. Within a few moments the two of us did what was intuitive and perceptive to the moment. We acted like soldiers, we worked in tandem – me being guided by his knowledge and with that inward concern that ‘all was not well.’


The three guys in the water heard and saw all the signals from the cliff and moved accordingly. Their heads swung up and without hesitation they paddled. They moved fluidly and mooove they did! All the time I never took my eyes off that shadow, and neither did Monwa (I later introduced myself to the spotter) as he followed a protocol I still think was the difference between something tragic and something cautionary. Either way the eyes on the sea that day changed a course of possible events. By the time the shark had reached the area of activity, no more than 20 seconds had transpired and the water was safely cleared. We will never know if anything would have happened, and as surfers we tend to bury our heads in the (beach) sand in this regard. We enter the ocean at our own peril, score the best understanding of the world in doing so, and tell the worry to go fly-a-kite. “Ja bru…”

One cannot know ‘real’ from ‘pretence’ until the situation commands as such. The shark arriving, the surfers in the water and the potential outcome were all real – and it made me feel alive. I feel remotely responsible for ‘attracting’ the outcome, but I would be arrogant to think that my projection could do such. I am just grateful that the beach was cleared, the danger averted and our sacred place left in perfect condition – open to facing another day of cooking A-frames and perfect bowls to race and face.


The Shark Spotter program was started some years ago on little more than a whim and a need, and still remains one of the most innovative programs for public benefit; worldwide! Monwa and I smoked a decompressing cigarette in the hut together and watched the shark move, wallow and eventually disappear. He told me his thoughts on how sharks enter and exit False Bay and sometimes make a curious turn past Caves. He gave personal input, backed by stats and analytical information and always maintained a professional decorum. Respect earned.

I left about an hour later and took the coastal twist home to Gordons Bay. I thought about life, I forgot about Donald’s hairpiece and the Trump Tower and his views on Muslim Immigration and arrived safely in my own thoughts. I had undergone a humbling experience which made me grateful for the service of Shark Spotters and the service of gentlemen in service. Thank god for the few!

The next day I surfed Caves and caught the wave, the wind and the realization that we live at the mercy of forces sometimes greater than our own… And that we need to separate real from rubbish.

Click here to check out all the published stories from our Write To Surf competition.


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. At the end of the year, we will select and send one aspirant journalist from the competition on an all expenses paid assignment for a major feature in Zigzag. 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. Please note: Prize hampers will only be delivered within South Africa. *Disclaimer: Views expressed in Write to Surf entries are those of the author.

The Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Hoodie; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 2 x Da Kine traction pads.



  1. Rian
    17 December, 2015 at 3:14 pm · Reply

    Ja once bru, very nice story, thank you, it really places things in perspective… the last JJ movie I saw was called “& AGAIN” it started and ended with JJ riding a jetski (What the…!?) And it featured some very explicit rap lyrics that I wouldn’t want any young grom listening too. Having said that – the kid rips.

    Oh and to quote Peter Tosh (without judging you or Monwa for a job well done)
    “WARNING, the surgeon general warns
    cigarette smoking is dangerous. dangerous
    hazard to your health.
    does that mean anything to you?

  2. Daager112
    18 December, 2015 at 6:54 am · Reply

    great story. I felt the same way about View from a Blue Moon – especially when I saw the marketing shtick – surfing the dark uncharted waters of Africa AKA a surf lodge in transkei. It’s beautifully filmed, but its Hollywood, all style, no substance.

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