Surfing... ay bru, I got all the gear. I got a brand new quiver with seven boards in it. I got fin systems, double concaves, pintails, swallows, rounded-pins, nose guards, a rashvest and a speedo. Itchy bollos. Prep. I took out a bond and got one of those larney new wetsuits with the battery operated warming system and super stretchy rubber. Boardbags, leashes, wax, boardshorts, flip flops, flowery shirts, sunglasses, cap, keyring, sunblock, peroxide-blonde hair, rusty car with lank stickers, racks, tank full of gas, Sublime's greatest hits pumping on the stereo... And I am ready to roll. It's gonna be epic. One time...

But it's all flat, everywhere. Horizontal, smooth, without projection or indentation. The ocean, she's broken. It's been flat for days, weeks, months. Pancakes and I'm not talking any Indo banana pancake here, bru. I'm talking flat, kak bitter little pancakes, forever.

And so you swallow hard and start to feel like a bit of a tool, all dressed up with nowhere to go. Flat and hot and crap. Flies land on your face and eat your shnollies, mocking you. The wind mocks you, the ocean mocks you, the people on the beach, the volley-ballers, the beach-batters, the sunbathers, the sea gulls... they all mocking you bru. Ha ha, point and laugh, there's no waves!

You are in the icy grip of a surfer's existential crisis. If there are no waves, can you be a surfer? Does the act of surfing even exist? One's thoughts turn naturally to sex, drugs and violence. The steady shmek of boredom wafts into your life like the hone of your mate's piss drenched wetsuit, stewing in the heat of your car. It's at times like these when life sucks with such utter ferociousness, surfers often contemplate doing hard drugs, flogging the bishop with a handful of gravel, or beating one's head against a wall until it all goes black and you wake up and miraculously there's waves. Yes these disturbing, destructive tendencies exist within all of us and are ready to roar to life in that vacuum of action and adrenaline, that state of utter despair that accompanies the 'no waves' situation.

But before you get carried away and do something that you might regret, put down the gravel and allow your mates at the Zag to feel your pain and fill you in on the various ways of achieving surf-like pleasures without actually surfing. I know it sounds like lies, but other activities exist that give a similar adrenal buzz to surfing.

Kite Surfing

Is an amazing thing. Technology never ceases to amaze me. This is some futuristic, scientific shit man! Normally when it's flat, it's windy. This is good. Now imagine strapping yourself to the wind, putting a board on your feet and flying across the flat ocean at ludicrous speeds. Hit a tiny 1 foot windslop and launch 10 meters into the air. Kitesurfing is a whole new avenue of pumping your adrenal core. Big airs bru, any bigger and you'd be paragliding. But don't think just because you're a surfer you're already half a kitesurfer. No, that would be foolish, this is an entirely new and intricate ball game, with it's own set of skills to master. It is, dare I say, even more complicated than surfing. Kites, board, harness, strings, leash, wind, waves, you've got a lot on your mind. You don't just sommer pick up the strings and fly the kite bru, these things are brute and can tear your limbs off... besides the correct terminology is to 'pilot a blade'. Think about that. Pilot the blade! When you get the hang of it, naturally you'll want to start jumping.

The real ballache about kitesurfing is the overall cost. A good kite will set you back at least R10 Gs, add another R2 Gs for an average board plus a grand for extras like the harness, helmet, leash and strings. This is probably why if you were to ever bump into a kitesurfer in South Africa - his name would be Hans and he'd speak at you mit ze fonny aksent, ja! Ja, in season there's about twice as many foreign kitesurfers than locals. They can afford the equipment and come mainly to Cape Town to learn how to use it. Dolphin Beach in Bloubergstrand is one of the world's premier kitesurfing beaches and is famed for a ridiculously high titty count. Ze kitesurfer's gather here because of ze consistently sideshore Southeaster. Mostly, mostly.

Possible injuries that can be incurred while 'giving it a spin' are too numerous to list - but some of the favourites would have to be: Simultaneously dislocating both shoulders. Failing an air, landing on the beach and compound fracturing all the bones in your body. Getting whipped sideways, landing in the road and getting hit by a furniture delivery van. Letting the kite go and watching it sever the limbs off small children as it whips violently down the beach. Getting caught mugging Klaus for his kite and being sent to Pollsmoor where you become a gangster's wyfie, contract HIV and peg.

Skim Boarding

Skim boarding is a funny thing that nobody really ever gets too excited about. I mean there's no soul skimboarding vs skimboard world tour or anything, but before we pan it and move on, let me assure you that there are people out there who can do it properly and they do radical, insane things. Some of them have even shaped their own hybrid skimboards that look more like small surfboards without skegs. In fact I have seen video footage of someone in Puerto Escondido or Waimea or somewhere cool, with waves, skimming straight into a six foot wave jacking on the shorebreak, turning sharply on the face, getting barreled off his pip, pumping out of the tube and pulling an aerial flip off the closeout section before planting himself in about 1 foot of foamy, sandy shorebreak. That was pretty full on. But that's not gonna happen to you on a day like this, there's not even a single foot of swell, flopping itself pathetically onto the sand. Nah, the most that's going to occur here is that you're going to hop on that slippery neck-breaker and see your arse.


Even mine dumps can be ridden on a sandboard and thus magically transformed into something vaguely like surfing. That says a lot about the potential of this young sliding activity when there is absolutely no chance of getting wet. Most beaches have sand dunes and most dunes have long, smooth steepish faces. Climb to the highest point, afix sandboard to feet and point in a bottomly direction. Most people think that sandboarding is a close cousin of snowboarding. This are lies. First up, snow is much more slippery than sand. Secondly snowboards turn, sandboards stick and catch rails. Finally ski resorts have lifts that pull you back up to the top once you've boarded down. Sand dunes must be climbed step by step on shtinking hot days. When you fall in snow you might be assured of some padding, when you fall off a sandboard, depending on speed the dune varies from eina! to oh-god-I'm-going-to die-out-here-all-alone. But don't let my cynical meanderings discourage you, stoke can be achieved through the dusty carves of a sandboard. Every meter of slide is weighed against the walk back up. My advice would be to find the biggest, steepest dunes possible and try and persuade your mate with the quad bike to come with. Of course this might mean shlepping up to Walvis Bay, where mates actually have quadbikes, in neighbouring Namibia in search of truly monstrous dunes. And when you're careening down the face of a huge red sand dune in the lonely African desert, and everything is quiet and surreal you'll feel that familiar glow and perhaps attain, like, spirituality at the same time. In between rides I suggest hallucinogens. Bring drinking water. A new locally made sandboard will set you back about R300. The trip to Namibia will cost a bit more.

Downhill Skateboarding

Although in skateboarding there are many links and similarities to the superior form of surfing, I'm going to focus solely on downhill skating. Because it's soul skateboarding and the rest is a bit naf. When you're doing it just right and you're flying down that hill snapping from side to side with the steady ccccccchhhhhh and ping of your wheels, it feels just like you're surfing the road. For this kind of flatspell rush you will need a long steady downhill stretch covered in fresh tarmac. No traffic would be a bonus. You will need a skateboard, a long one so you can bend into your turns and get a righteous groove and flow, but a small one will do you fine if that's all you got (just watch out for the wobblies). Longboards tend to have bigger wheels, wider trucks and, obviously, longer decks, thus giving you a greater amount of traction and control. Going faster squeezes your adrenal glands harder and thus you rush more and attain greater levels of the stoke. It also means you can throw out the back and pull slides at the end of each turn, which incidentally is what you do to slow down. Ocean made of water. Road made of tar, meeeep-meeeep. This introduces my two cents on safety equipment. Although you may look like the definition of 'cool surfer' in your flip flops, boardshorts and unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, wiping off the skateboard at 40kms an hour is going to be very nasty. Think about that dizzying moment when you lose it, the sickening wobble, the ground rush, the world of tarmac and rocks moving the other way like a cheesegrater. Think pain. Knee pads and a helmet. Hit by car = dead. Like Tupac. Here endeth the sermon. A new downhill skateboard will cost upwards of R1500.

Balance Boards

These simplistic monkey machines are fun for indoor and outdoor shenanigans. It has all the flow, balance and feeling of surfing but is a bit lacking in movement and adrenal stimulation. Originally designed as a surfing simulator, the balance board was never meant to be used as a substitute for the act itself. But when there's nothing else to do... Importantly balance boards allow you to mix your medias, giving you the unique opportunity of feeling like you're surfing while watching surfing videos. Another suggestion to ease the passage of time until the next groundswell, would be to take the balance out into the garden and place it under the sprinkler, close your eyes and imagine G-Land. To help lube up your imaginative faculties I would recommend the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Before you know it you'll be pig-dogging backside Uluwatu with your eyes closed. Do not open your eyes, you will remember that you are in the garden, and feel like a loser. If this keeps happening, drink more beer.

Handbrake Turns

Although not strictly termed 'board sports', there are some fun things you can do with your car. Sliding it sideways is one of them. For this you will need an empty dirt track or a high school playing field - obviously you wouldn't like to try this in the traffic, until you've got it down. Hop in the car jam it into first and get the revs up, ease her into second and really get it vrooming, then hit the clutch and simultaneously yank up the handbrake while swinging the steering wheel in the direction that you want to spin. Please be reminded that this should happen on gravel or grass and not tarmac - as this could cause your car to roll and kill your mates and yourself. Also keep an eye out for neighbours, pets, your kid sister, pedestrians and anyone else foolish enough to stumble across your reckless tomfoolery. Most importantly stay on the look out for the filth. Traffic policemen have no patience for punks like you.

Keep Driving

The final option for dealing with a prolonged lack of swell is hope, delusion and a full tank of gas. Keep driving, there must be a wave somewhere.

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