Stab Magazine | I'll take a novelty wave over Pipeline any day!

I’ll take a novelty wave over Pipeline any day!

Words by Ali Klinkenberg Novelty waves are the best part of surfing! A novelty wave is a spot that has unique, redeeming features that compensate for its lack of quality in the traditional sense. This could be an unusual location or backdrop, infrequency of breaking, or it could just be really fun for reasons other than […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Ali Klinkenberg

Novelty waves are the best part of surfing! A novelty wave is a spot that has unique, redeeming features that compensate for its lack of quality in the traditional sense. This could be an unusual location or backdrop, infrequency of breaking, or it could just be really fun for reasons other than it being a high-performance wave. I’ve spent a medium sized dog’s lifetime driving around after much hyped swells, checking big, serious, testosterone-filled line ups, and, finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not my thing. Turning one’s back on bravado and retreating to a lifetime of cowardice is about as liberating a thing as you can do. On the way home however, you’ll drive past some forgotten pocket, maybe even a locale you drive past every day. It’s two foot and wedging off a wall/jetty/rock/sunken ship, and, you’ll paddle out and have, absolute fun! There’s a certain guilt that comes from forsaking ‘the’ swell at ‘the’ spot, but you know the remedy? Drowning those feels in novel joy! So yank on that handbrake and dive into your rubber suit; it’s in novelty that the real fun lies! Here’s a selection of fellow novel wave enthusiasts, and their go-to guilty surf pleasures.

Mason Ho and the rock minefield. There was but one man to spearhead this riffing on the theme of novelty, and Mason Ho was he. Mase’s made a career out of showing the world that the surf doesn’t have to be stellar to have fun, and nobody does the novelty spot better. “Novelty waves are fun because you can get SUPER weird and into it with nobody around,” says Mason, “Also something about surfing unusual waves makes me extra happy. I have the same amount of fun at places like Pipeline as I do at the novelty spots. Just different types of fun.” And the favourites? “At the moment it’s Castle Rock, Fernando wedge, and Divorce Beach. Castle rock is sick because it breaks when the North Shore is really small and that’s where I surf a lot. I think Fernando wedge likes a full moon, and Divorce Beach is good anytime, anyway, anyhow.”

Asher Pacey and the Tweed. Asher Pacey’s one of the few surfers who likes to experiment with equipment but doesn’t sink in cyber-hatred on This is likely due to the fact that his surfing oozes a fine time. When the time and tide arises, Asher likes to surf in the Tweed River! “It breaks pretty often but the window of opportunity is pretty small,” says Asher of the wave he filmed pal Otis Carey slicing at above. “Usually the last of the run out/first of the run in of the tide is the best, and personally I have a hoot surfing there. It feels surreal when you’re surfing and not looking directly at the the ocean, and the wave quality can get pretty good at times. I lived opposite the sandbar section for a year or so and could see it from home. I’d take the short paddle and surf it on the good part of the tide. Such fun, I love a novelty surf!”

Josh Mulcoy and the Santa Cruz Harbour. Santa Cruz, CA is a fascinating enclave of surfable nooks. And perhaps the most darling (and rarest) of these is the Harbour itself. “It used to break all winter when I was a kid,” says local pro Josh. “About four years ago it broke consistently for four months, but the last four years it’s only been good once.” Novelty or quality surf spot? “Some years it’s a surf spot, and some years it’s a novelty. Novelty waves are so much fun because they’re like a fantasy when they eventually come to fruition. When you finally get them you never forget them.”


Photo: Aquabumps

The Sydney Harbour. This one’s dear to our hearts. Every year, in the depths of winter, huge Southerly storms from the Tasman sea batter Sydney’s city beaches. This renders all spots completely unsurfable, and is usually accompanied by the filthiest of wind/rain combos. However, when the storms reach maximum capacity and all hope seems lost, somebody inevitably whispers, “Shall we go and surf the harbour?” This is usually met by a unanimous “hurrah!” and off we pile into an assortment of wagons. The wave is always crowded and rarely of any quality, but, the view that the gent on the wave is enjoying is that of the CBD skyline. Lip tapping whilst staring straight into one of the Asia-Pacific region’s greatest economic hubs? Now that’s a novelty! What’s your dirty little surf secret?


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