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Skeleton Bay VS The African Kirra

Skeleton Bay VS The African Kirra

Dec 2015

Words Will Bendix, pics Alan Van Gysen and Greg Ewing

IT’S FUNNY, RIGHT? That in the past five years, two of the best waves in the world have popped up on the radar right here in Africa. One’s a left, the other’s a right, and they both break over sand. But there’s way more to these supposed dream setups than meets the eye. And if they were to go head-to-head, which one would triumph as the ultimate sandspit to make surfing love to before you die? Zag investigates…


Gnarliness:  In pure lip-per-square-meterage, Skeleton Bay trounces most sand-bottomed waves around the world, especially when you take into account that two thirds of that lip is sand. This also explains why it feels like you’re being bludgeoned with a cement block when you blow the take-off. The laughably shallow bottom ensures potential neck trauma, broken bones and broken boards are constantly nearby. - 8/10 

Barrel  Factor:  You didn’t come all this way to do cutbacks. 10/10

Crowd  factor:  Gets busy nowadays when huge winter swells line up at the bottom of the synoptic charts and the international pro contingent jet it. The pure length of the point helps handle a substantial crowd though.  -3/10

Board  snappage:  Less of a pointbreak and more like a paper-shredder for 6’0s. In fact, if you don’t crumple a board or three during a swell it probably means you didn’t get any good ones. -8/10 

Paddle  out:  The easiest part of surfing here. Wait for a set to approach, then run and jump off the sand. Ten strokes and you’re out. 10/10

Rip:  Like trying to paddle against a river in full flood. Resistance is futile. - 10/10

Length  of  ride:  Imagine the longest barrel possible, then multiply by two. 10/10

Water temp:  Hood, booties, 4/3 fullsuit. -5/10

Makeability:  Reports vary depending on who you talk to. The drop is challenging and many waves end up sectioning and running away from you. Some don’t and a few even run the entire length of the ridiculously long point. If you’re a pro, chances are fairly good you will make a few once you get the hang of it. If you’re anyone else, you may well go home empty handed with a gaping hole in your ego. 3/10

If  the  wave  doesn’t  get  you, there’s always:  Great White sharks, jackals, angry seals, dehydration, the desert. -7/10

Consistency:  Kicks into gear when the biggest of big winter swells fire up the South Atlantic, but even then the swell direction has to be just right for anything to make sense. 3/10

Nightlife:  Diamond divers, Tafel Beer and brandy. 2/10

Limelight  moment:  Corey Lopez’s first 20 second tube in …Lost Redux. 10/10



Gnarliness:  Breaks so hard it will blow out the seams on all your boardshorts according to tube aficionado, Ryan Ribbink. Looks far easier - and more playful - than it is. Prepare to eat some sand, puto! -5/10

Barrel  Factor:  You didn’t come all this way to do cutbacks 9/10

Crowd  factor:  Bring a friend and lessen the odds of being the only one around to get picked off by something hungry. 0/10

Board  snappage:  You definitely want to bring a backup or two: -5/10

Paddle  out:  Relatively easy. Jump off the sand at the top and punch through. The deep, flat water in the front will make sure you paddle fast enough. 7/10

Rip:  All that water pushing down the bank means it’s far easier to get out and do the longgg walk back after a good one. -8/10

Length  of  ride  300 metres of tubage: The only time that looks ‘short’ is compared to Skeleton Bay. 5/10

Water  temp:  Boardshorts and sunscreen. 10/10

Makeability:  If you can go fast enough, you might make the wave. But that’s a big if. 5/10

If  the  wave  doesn’t  get  you, there’s always: Great White sharks, Zambezi sharks, all other kinds of sharks, malaria, giant crabs, cyclones, the jungle. - 9/10 

Consistency:  Uhm, ja... -10/10

Nightlife:  The odd backpacker, bonfires and Tipo Tinto rum, which is also useful for getting the fire started. 2/10

Limelight  moment:  Jordy Smith’s multiple tubes on one wave for his X-Games entry. 8/10



The African Kirra narrowly beats Skeleton Bay as the ultimate sandspit to surf before you die, thanks in no small part to the fact you will be donning boardshorts instead of booties while seeking tube enlightenment. It’s also a more forgiving experience, which makes for more pleasant surfing. But factor in the chances of actually getting it working, and you can minus another 20 points off that score line. In case you’re not getting the hint, it’s that fickle. This technically makes S-Bay the ultimate winner, but who are we kidding? One wave at either of these spots will smash your perception of surfing, or your face into the sand.

Source: ZigZag Surfing Magazine


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