My Wipe Out

One of the biggest highlights in my life was and is definitely surfing.
I started body boarding when I was about 16. At that time I never had a wetsuit so I was more of a Christmas surfer (only went once a year in summer). Then when I left school I got a job and decided that with my first “pay check” I would buy a wetsuit.
It was one of the best things I ever could have bought myself. After that, I went with friends about three times a week to surf/body-board.

I met a guy who use to be part of the Boland Body Boarding Association. He told me about a trial that was happening over a weekend in Elands Bay.

Elands Bay is a little deserted town which lies on the West Coast about 3 to 4 hours drive from Cape Town. There is absolutely nothing there besides a few locals waving as any car comes into this tiny town, there is also a shop and a hotel with a bar/restaurant.
So if you not into surfing or nature then I don’t think you will enjoy it there.

Elands Bay is really beautiful in all its loneliness. The people are friendly and the waves are beautiful. Just a little warning, if you a beginner it’s not such a good thing to try and impress out in those waves. Don't be like me. Don't look like an idiot.
We arrived there Friday evening and the very next morning I was determined to show the guys what I was made of. There I went, with a big heart and a confident smile...I made my mission down the beach as if I have done it a million times.

When I got there (spot called The Factory) I was stunned by the size of these heavy waves.
Let me just first paint the image in your mind. Imagine facing bigger waves than what you already use to (I mean, if you only use to surfing Big Bay or Derde Steen, or any other user-friendly beach, then something like “The Factory” is no time to play games.)
Just in front of these monsters lie a reef, which to me, seemed as though it was a safety net for dummies like me. Wrong.
There was sea weed every where, it is the freakiest thing. Apparently you meant to use it to your advantage... grab onto it and just pull yourself over to the smaller waves.

Imagine watching a girl try to take on these waves.

This bravery of mine quickly turned into shame! My my nerves took over and gave the sea such pleasure showing me who is boss. I was hit, thrown and dumped around like a rag-doll in a washing machine. When I eventually was able to get on the smaller waves, my ego was already down to zip. I walked back to camp with my tail between my legs.

I got back to my tent where my happy friends were waiting. They tried motivating me to carry on because at this stage I was meant to be on my way to the actual competition.

All I was thinking was: “Here we go again... Claudia what are you doing??”
Anyway, car packed and ready to go, we made our mission down to a spot called “Famous” (Farmer Burgers) with our energy drinks and smarties.

After my friends car had to endure a half an hour of dirt road and three girls singing their hearts out to Black Betty – Bamalam we finally reached the location, the waves hid away from us over a hill. As we walked through thorns, sticks, stones, bush and dog poop, we finally saw what we had come for. Our four hour drive from Cape Town suddenly made no sense. The Huge waves broke down onto the shore with a bang and guys were flung around by the power of these strong waves.

My friend who was going to be my source of insurance in the water, backed out.
I wanted to back out right there and then but when Riaan asked me the second time if I was going in I thought: “you know what, I drove so far”. I didn’t want to leave with what could’ve happened if I didn't take the chance. I didn’t want that regret.

So there I was facing what I loved so much but also what I feared at the same time.
My friend assured me I was insane but hey, being the only girl who took part that day, earned back a bit of respect from the guys. As I walked down with the masters I said my finally good bye to the world.

When I went in, I froze. Literally. I was petrified, even the waves that had already broken were knocking me around. I just stood there and didn't know how I would ever be able to get to the back.

BUT THEN, just as I was about to walk out, my “angel” as I call him came up to me and said “I’m going to help you in”. With no hesitation, I followed this beautiful face into the water. He took my board by the front and took me in. I felt so safe. He even took me on my first and only wave that day. As I rode it I screamed so loud that guys 3km up the beach could hear me.

And then my wipe out... it was apparently the worst they had ever seen. Yes, it was funny. Thinking back now, I was most likely only there for the entertainment. I don’t mind. I had fun either way. Every time I was in the water, was enjoyed in a weird, painful little way.
After that wave and its glorious wipe out, I just took my bored and headed out again. I got out to the back this time by myself. The guys actually applauded me for trying but were also teasing me at the same time. I laughed it off but wasn’t able to catch another wave. The shame. :)

Our motto for that weekend… what happened in Elands, stays in Elands.