Try to imagine if you can, someone very dear to you rushing down to SuperTubes at Jeffrey’s Bay, surfboard under arm, two days after the Mick Fanning shark attack shut down the Billabong leg of the World Surfing Champs.
As a parent, my instinct was to tie him to a bed for the duration of our visit. But hey, this surfing trip was the highlight of his trip to South Africa, so what can a mother do? And SuperTubes delivered the goods once again, in the form of the best righthand surf break waves in the world, with rides of up to a kilometre long.
I hadn’t been to JBay for years, in fact since it was a small fishing and surfing village and visiting surfers slept in their kombis or on the ground. Although I remember the town as a place of sunshine and shells, this week it was fairly dark and stormy, but with enough break in the rain for us to walk on the beach and rubberneck the huge mansions that have sprung up, Plett style, all along the dunes. Shopping centres abound, albeit with very few customers that we could see in the week that we were there. But residents said that the Billabong champs had the place hopping the previous week, with coffee shops and surf shops on almost every corner doing a thriving business.
I kind of miss the little place that I visited often when we lived in Port Elizabeth, but I guess progress happens. Interesting, though, that this particular progress is built on a wave, even if it's a perfect wave, and international surfers who will travel to the other end of nowhere to ride it. Of course, shells on the beach, crimson aloes, pods of dolphins joining the surfers and sunset touching the mountains across the bay don't harm the image in any way.