Words and photographs by Gero Lilleike.
Winter is officially here and so are the waves! The last few days has seen Cape Town residents hunkering down as a massive winter storm system raged overhead which brought large amounts of rain, snow, cold weather and another major swell of the winter surfing season in Cape Town.
South Africa is currently in Level 3 lockdown in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and while beaches are closed and surfing remains ‘banned’ under regulations, surfers across the country, including myself, are back in the water and enjoying the much-needed peace and upliftment that surfing brings in this new strange world.
Swell was stacked all the way to the horizon. Photo: Gero Lilleike
On the back of this major storm, I thought I would go and watch (and photograph) the winter swell rolling in at Muizenberg with the intention of surfing myself. I took the scenic route via Boyes Drive and was stunned at what lay before me. False Bay was stacked to the horizon as a 4 metre, 12-second south swell filled the bay.
The paddle out to backline was very far away. Photo: Gero Lilleike
This was the first time in a very long time that I have seen so much swell. That, or I’ve been locked away in isolation for far too long. It was firing!
There were about 15 surfers out, sitting very deep. They were far out, way out. It was a mammoth paddle.
Muizenberg, Surfer’s Corner. This is where it all began… Photo: Gero Lilleike.
Muizenberg is where surfing in South Africa began and many businesses at Surfer’s Corner depend on the regular influx of tourists, surfers and their families but now with COVID-19 gripping the world, most businesses here are struggling to survive. With surfers back in the water, the businesses that are open can at least turn a penny again.
Kalk Bay has a well-known reef break of its own. Photo: Gero Lilleike
I then drove on towards the seaside village of Kalk Bay which is home to a throaty reef break and found a throng of local surfers and bodyboarders gorging themselves on thick, ledgy waves. They were getting so pitted! I was jealous.
Kalk Bay reef was laying down the gauntlet. Photo: Gero Lilleike
I decided to try my luck and paddle out at Muizenberg but I got licked instead. This swell wanted nothing to do with me and within 30 minutes the ocean spat me out and it was all over. I was stoked. That’s all I needed…
To paddle or not to paddle? Photo: Gero Lilleike