"Apparently Koa got a 40-second tube!" - Brett Barley Photo: @koasmith
Brett Barley And Oliver Kurtz Discuss The "Best Day Ever" In Namibia
This is the best wave in the world.
Namibia has been my most coveted surf destination since the year 2015.
Over the past four years, I've kept a steady eye on the charts and taken meticulous notes about which swell angles, periods, and sizes work best at the fabled lefthand point. When I couldn't find professionally-made clips to detail the true quality of each swell, I would resort to stalking Instagram accounts and begging African visitors for intel.
It's a full-blown obsession, I know, but what am I supposed to do? Pretend I don't want to surf the best wave in the world?
When the most recent swell popped up in the south Atlantic, I monitored it closely. It wasn't the biggest swell west Africa has seen in recent years, but it did have a good angle, which made me interested. I decided to text Brett Barley, a friend and perennial lefthand tube hunter, to see if he was planning on going.
"Shhhhhhhh," Brett said. "Not so loud."
So I started sniffing out flight prices, just in case Spirit might be offering a $150 special to the Dark Continent, but... nay. Three-thousand dollars it would cost to reach the Namibian shores, and that didn't even include a board bag fee.
This may come as a surprise to many of you, but satirizing surfboard-riding on the internet with a 5th-grade vocabulary and 2nd-grade maturity level does not pay the big bucks. So I was out.
But thankfully, and perhaps somewhat painfully for the rest of us, surfers like Brett Barley, Oliver Kurtz, and Koa Smith had no such financial qualms. Or maybe they did, but considering their job description consist of flying around the world to get tubed, they were more justified in busting out the Amex and sending themselves halfway around the world to surf a little wave in the desert.
And through this perseverance they scored the best wave in the world on its best day... ever? Goddamnit!
Boys, we've seen little iPhone and GoPro clips leaking on the Gram. So tell us, how good was it today?
Brett Barley: Let's put it this way: one of the OG Namibia loc-dogs called today the best he’s ever seen it. Koa Smith said he got the best wave of his life today. I don’t wanna quote him on this, but I think he said he got a 40-second barrel. He said he might have popped out once or twice but… Oliver saw it from the beach.
Oliver Kurtz: I saw it from the beach, and I had him in the 30s.
Last year when you guys came here it looked a little more section-y, whereas in the videos you’ve posted from today, it looks way more perfect.
BB: Last year was just so big, it was kind of out of control. Today was more groomed, but it was still hard to get a good one, because all the best waves had no entry. You just had to go full-send on the air drop. Honestly the best waves were un-catchable. Even on a bodyboard. Although I will say that one heavy wave Oliver got was one of those crazy sets. It just had an entry.
OK: Yeah, I’m trying to find a land clip but I don’t think it exists…
BB: It was probably like a full 3-foot lip.
OK: From the inside, it was like Teahupo’o that went forever. But with the GoPro, you lose all the size and heaviness.
BB: I saw it from the beach, and I didnt event know anyone was in it. It was so below sea-level, and then I saw a trail from somebody, so I was like, 'Okay I can’t see him it’s probably a bodyboarder.' Then I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this bodyboarder is still going.' But it was like so heavy… it was the heaviest wave. And then it was Oliver coming out.
Was that the best wave of your life, Oliver?
OK: Yeah, I got the best wave of my life mid-morning, and then an hour later the craziest tube/vision I've ever seen. And there was no one here.
BB: There were probably 10 guys total who would have wanted sets.
What other pros were there?
BB: Koa Smith, Beyrick Devries, Dale Staples, then bodyboarders like Andre Botha. But there really weren’t many people here.
Best day of waves you’ve ever seen?
OK: Definitely. I mean Brett lives in Cape Hatteras so I don’t know about him, but for me it was.
BB: Yeah, there’s good hurricane swells back home, but the amount of good waves coming through today was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was insane. This is the best wave in the world for sure.
How many good waves do you get in an 11-hour session here?
OK: I can tell you right now. [Oliver audibly counts his GoPro clips 1,2,3…] 14! But 14 bangers. Like 14 waves you would never get anywhere else. It just sucks that this is the first time we’ve gone on a trip that didn’t have a filmer.
And that was just a financial decision, yeah?
BB: Dude, it was almost too expensive to bring ourselves here, let alone pay for a filmer’s ticket, expenses, and fees on top of that. I paid 3 grand just for my ticket.
Worth it though?
BB: Oh yeah. I don’t regret it at all. I don’t regret anything.
OK: The thing is, this is the only trip I care about going on all year long. Every other wave compared to this one, it’s just… dumb. I don’t even know. Like when you know this wave is gonna be good, there’s just nothing like it.
You guys had troubles with the GoPros in your warm-up session last night, right? How did it go today?
BB: Yeah, Oliver was having an SD card issue yesterday, and mine would record for one second and then stop. It was super stressful, because like… this is it. This is all we’ve got for proof. So we fixed Oliver’s camera with a different card, and then I stayed up til midnnight running a bunch of tests on mine, and I basically got it down to just one error. Then we paddled out this morning, and it was freaking pumping, and my GoPro started saying “SD card error”. My heart just dropped. Then it messed up my first wave, but after that it was sweet. Didn’t miss any other clips. We got soooo lucky.
How are the beatings out there?
BB: It’s terrible [laughs]. You just get dragged forever.
OK: I think it’s the most powerful wave, pound-for-pound – or foot-for-foot or whatever.
What is like being in a barrel for 10+ seconds? Are you able to get past that erratic feeling and actually make conscious decisions?
OK: Yeah, you just have more time to read the wave and think about how you’re going to hunt the next section. But you can kind of get mesmerized because it's so clean. It's crazy.