Since the 1960’s Jeffreys Bay has become known around the world as the Mecca of surfing. It is not hard to understand why with the many top quality surf breaks situated in the town.
The first surfers used to ride their long boards at the Point as Supertubes was considered too gnarly to surf. By the early 1970’s the short board had been invented and Supers became one of the best waves in the world. J’Bay became firmly entrenched as a must visit destination for surfers from all over the globe.
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(Above: Former World Champ Andy Irons taking on a section at Supertubes)
Intrepid surfers then started to venture further afield in J’Bay and new breaks with exotic names like Magnatubes and Albatross were discovered. It is rumoured that some Aussie pilgrims were the first to surf Magna’s and when asked what the waves were like, they replied, ‘Ahh there are magnificent tubes out there mate”. Thus the break ended up being called Magnatubes.
J’Bay has always been a tough nut to crack. The paddle out is intimidating on the 6 foot plus days. The rip can take an unsuspecting surfer down to the Point if they time the paddle out incorrectly. There are sharks that cruise the line up and the local surfers can be even heavier than all the above put together.
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(Above: How it all began: Joel Tudor at Point on a longboard)
The winter of 1977 is still regarded as one of the best surf seasons ever experienced in Jeffreys Bay. Powerful swells from the Southern ocean wrapped perfectly around the Bay to create epic sessions at Supertubes. Locals like Larry Levin made a name for themselves internationally as pictures of the waves being surfed stared to filter into the surf magazines.
The 1980’s and 1990’s saw an influx of surfers to J’Bay and many were able to make the town their home. The line up became more crowded and more international surfers were starting to visit South Africa and make the pilgrimage to surf Supertubes.
The building boom saw the sand dunes flattened along the beachfront and the old car parks became tarred with parking bays. There was concern that the sand build up at Supers would be affected by the coastal development but luckily those fears seem to have been unfounded.
As 2010 draws nearer one thing remains the same. The waves still wind around the point into J’Bay as they have for decades but with more surfers around, more surf breaks are being utilized. No more is there just a local crew at Supertubes. Unless you are well known in town, your chances of getting respect at a break like Kitchen Windows is non existent as the Pellrus surf community have claimed the break as their own. Even Albatross has its own locals these days who make sure they get their share of waves.
Yet, when one watches a youngster being taught how to surf at Dolphin Beach by one of the surf schools and the stoke is evident in their faces as they learn how to catch waves it has to be admitted. Despite all the change J’Bay has seen, it remains a surfer’s paradise.