Are you ready? Because it’s time.
Nearly twenty years ago, in 2000, the women’s event last ran at J-Bay. (You know. The year Tom Hanks talked to a volley ball in Cast Away and Steve Tyler Didn’t Want to Miss a Thing?)
Well, down here in South Africa, we can’t wait. And today, we FINALLY got done with work and are in the car and on the road from Cape Town to JBay.
We’ve seen the men live in action before. Last year we road tripped down and watched those huge sets roll in around the point, we yelled for Jordy, were blown away by the perfect tens and just shook our heads at those air reverses.
But this year, with one week’s vacation in a two week window, we had to take our pick and we chose the women’s.
None of the women in the event have surfed the JBay Open before, because, well it’s been twenty years and there is only one Kelly-Slater-Aged-Forty-Six-Still-On-Tour. (Although, between me and you, I suspect his foot is a probably gonna be a bit crook forever.)
The number one ranked surfer on the women’s tour, regular footer, Lakey Peterson, commented on Instgram that she is “having the best time in South Africa…” And “Love this country and how alive it is. Incredible surf, animals and culture.”
The number two, also regular, Stephanie Gilmore says that her first visit to J-Bay has been “love at first sight. Love at first ride, definitely.”
Tatiana Weston-Webb says of her first time J-Bay, “it’s one of those places …, where you almost can’t believe it.”
I guess for Tatiana though, J-Bay is literally half way around the world. There’s a twelve hour time difference between South Africa and Hawaii. Which means that if you are travelling to Hawaii from South Africa and you overshoot it just a little bit, you will be on your way back.
The locals are stoked that Bianca Buitendag got the wildcard. Buitendag, a goofy footer, grew up surfing a right hand point break in the little village of Victoria Bay, just down the road from J-Bay. Bianca is very strong on her back hand as a result, so we’re amped to see her surf in Heat 3, possibly tomorrow.
Right now we passed a little town called Albertinia. The sun is sinking away behind us, leaving the mountains in a purple haze and the grasses, golden. We will have to make an overnight stop in about an hour, soon after we pass Buitendag’s home town.
Tomorrow we will get up early to get to J-Bay before the call. Perhaps in time to see the sun rise on the other side of the bay, casting the dawn through the lines of swell, turning them from grey to green, switching on the footlights of the liquid stage.