A beginner surfer’s guide to Jeffreys Bay

Posted on 8 February 2011

As a newbie surfer you’ve probably heard about the seaside town of Jeffreys Bay, with its white sand beaches, great seafood, chilled lifestyle and perfect waves. You may have also caught onto the fact that it has one of the world’s best right hand point breaks and pro surfers from all over the world flock to this surfing mecca, especially in surf season between June to August and for the Billabong Pro Surf contest.

Surrounded by aloes, sea shells and many surf stores all encouraging you to rent a board and hop into the ocean, Jeffreys Bay lures surfers to its shores with the south-west wind.

But if you (like me a year ago) have no idea what a point break is, why you need to steer clear of reef and try get barreled, then here’s a chance for you to get clued up, save your life and decipher supertubes from magnatubes and kitchen windows from boneyards because Jbay surfing is not for the timid.

1. Learn the lingo

right hand point break: The perfect waves you see are formed because they hit a point of land or rocks jutting out from the coastline. Right hand indicates that they will curl to the right and that’s the general direction you should turn so as not to wipe out on the rocks in front of you.

beach break: Dolphin Beach (main beach) is the best example of where the waves break on a sandy seabed. Best for those who are just learning to stand up on their surfboard.

reef: the rock, sandbar or other dangerous jagged features lying beneath the surface of the water.

barrel: A Barrel (or a tube) is where the wave hollows out while breaking. It’s what most surfers spent their lives trying to get into, but chances that this will happen for a beginner are dismal.

the drop: If you have only surfed foamies then don’t be alarmed when you experience this on Jbay’s larger waves. This is where you will get up on the wave and then drop down the face of it. Scary at first, exhilarating thereafter especially if you manage to stay on your board.
2. Befriend a local

For your safety in the water, I would suggest (depending on how new you are to surfing) you first have a lesson with a surf school, befriend a local or start dating a surfer.

The above precautionary measures will ensure you get insider information as to what wind direction you’re looking for, the best place to get into the water, where the invisible rocks are and how to steer clear of the waves that locals are about to catch.

If you aren’t able to bag one of the above, then know that a South Wind is usually best for waves here. Watch the locals to see where they get in the water to paddle out and wait in the line-up for waves. Whatever you do, do not drop in on another surfers wave. Locals can be pretty territorial and it’s considered a surfing crime.

3. Pick a spot

main beach: This is probably a good place to start, but try wait for some west winds as this beach produces some dumpers. There is much fun to be had in these foamies if all you aim to do is head forward on our board. There are no rocks and the only things you’ll have to dodge are the kids and swimmers.

kitchen windows: Situated to the right of Main Beach, this spot is a mellow reef break in front of the tower. It’s a lot of fun and you won’t have to paddle too far to catch waves. Be careful of the sharp rocks below when you bail from your board, they are closer to the surface than you think. Booties are really helpful.

point: Some say Point is a laid-back spot where you can get used to the power of Jbay’s waves, but that would depend on what size waves you are comfortable with. I thought it would be my final resting place the first time I was taken out there, but breathed easy the next time out. There is a gulley in front of the car park which is essential for you to get out, but in order to avoid being destroyed on your way to the backline, you have to time it correctly and paddle out in between sets. Wear booties to keep the skin on your feet when you’re trying to get out over the rocks.

supertubes: Stay away. Leave these waves for the pros.

Albatross, Boneyards and Magnatubes are some of the other surf breaks perhaps best left for the moderately skilled.

4. Enjoy

At the end of the day surfing is all about having fun, so once you’re out there out on your rented board, paddling your little heart out and you feel the wave carrying you, stand up, feel the wind in your hair and ride that baby until you can’t anymore.

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