The Race Track
Story by Craig Jarvis Our favourite 300-meter ride, Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay, is about to fire up for the 2014 J-Bay Open, and boy is she ready. As a taste of what’s to come, Supers has been delivering. Big waves, small waves, south swell, west swell, north winds, west winds, cray crowds, empty lineup, curious […]
Story by Craig Jarvis
Our favourite 300-meter ride, Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay, is about to fire up for the 2014 J-Bay Open, and boy is she ready. As a taste of what’s to come, Supers has been delivering. Big waves, small waves, south swell, west swell, north winds, west winds, cray crowds, empty lineup, curious sharks, dolphins aplenty. Shit’s been outa control. In fact, it has been so good, there’s always a chance that she has already peaked, but let’s not go down that road. Rather, lets take a look at Supers, her fine sections, and her scoring potential.
Okay, Boneyards throws some big barrels, but never in a contest. Why’s that? Well, Boneyards is situated right at the top of the point, almost around the corner. When she is firing, so is Supers, and the contest is on, so no one even looks up there. The only time Boneyards enters the party is when the surf is marginal at Supers and there’s a devil wind blowing. Then she might be chosen as an alternative venue, depending on how many heats remaining and how much time left in the waiting period. So, in essence, when the event is run at Boneyards, it’s mediocre at best. Don’t let that discourage you though, because the top section at Supers is pretty dreamy.
If you paddle straight out from the top gully you’re at the main take-off section. The real take-off zone is quite wide, but if you’re focusing on perfectly walled high-scoring runners, this is where you should be taking off, and setting up. The wave opens up with a little bit of space to move, and some open-face carves and speed-generating power moves are the norm up here. While the top section does throw a few good barrels, they are a little bit tighter and more complex than the gaping barrels down at the bottom. A tube ride up here is thus, more risky, but the late Andy Irons never used to contemplate these risks, pulling in with abandon whenever he was competing out there. The top section is great to set up for the inside tracks, and one little secret from Jordy Smith with regards the top section is to “look for the ones that come in the slowest…”
It was all a dream. Photo by Sacha Specker.
The Carpark Section
The Carpark Section is famously the best section of the wave. It’s the section where 10’s are scored, like Bottle Thompson’s endless tube in 2010, or Bobby Martinez’ backhand barrel into the devil wind in 20-something for Shaun Tomson to call it one of the best backhand barrels he had ever seen? On a perfect swell, the Carpark Section opens up some clean barrels, double up sections and fast and critical open faces for big turns and air moves. It’s where a good wave is turned into an excellent wave, and an excellent wave becomes a ten. The section sits right in front of the judges and the spectators, and it’s the section that has all the attention. On a more south swell, the attention only happens at the Carpark, and the top section doesn’t even exist.
Impossibles, the final section, has holes, and the wave is funky and difficult to ride. A few desperate barrels and some throwaway airs, or big closeout carves, but it’s the end of the wave. It breaks close to the rocks, eats fins and bare feet, and leads into the exit gully – roughly three hundred meters from the takeoff spot.
Impossibly perfect. Photo by Garth Robinson.
When the sand comes
This happens after a grinding swell combines with a king tide. A deluge of sand gets vomited up over the Impossibles rocks and holes, and smoothes the section out into a perfect tube. The Carpark section becomes a J-Bay Launchpad and Impossibles becomes an African Speed Reef. The end of the Carpark Section will slingshot a surfer into the fastest wall, and Impossibles barrels become very possible, and a very good option for high scores.
In previous years, when the sand has been around, all sorts of weird, sick surfing has happened down at the bottom, with multiple barrels, thick standup blowout tubes and heat-winning scores have gone down at the end of the wave. Remember Danny Wills pulling into rainy bombs at the end of the Carpark Section around the 2006 time, and Taylor Knox standing straight up in some thick holes down there as well?
The only problem with the sand build up, is that it changes the wave dynamic considerably, and those surfers who have less experience at Supers are going to be at a slight disadvantage, perhaps not knowing exactly how to surf that pesky end section. They’re just going to have to watch Slater, Jordy and Parko to see a whole world of scoring potential at Impossibles.
The other problem is that there have been a few shark sighting this year, with the water getting cleared on a good day by a five-meter boy that swam languidly down the point while 6-8 foot sets reeled down. After watching it for a while, the first person back in the water was Twiggy Baker, sporting an anti-shark device, and he was soon followed by a gaggle of frothing surfers, unable to control themselves as six-footers reeled down unridden. Sharks in this part of the world are very real. An ocean swimmer was killed and devoured last year at The Point, Jeffreys Bay, in a vicious attack, and there have been numerous other sightings since.
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