August Odysseys – Raw Waves

August Odysseys – Raw Waves

It was way back in 1962 and I was travelling through South Africa with the crew of “Endless Summer” looking for waves and surfers for the movie. We had seen some awesome beaches and terrific waves, almost empty as there were almost no surfers in that whole huge continent, until we met some surfers in Cape Town and included them in the movie. We heard that there was a small contingent of surfers in Durban, a few hundred miles to the North, so we set out to look for them.

The road ran along the coast about five miles inland, with many side roads cutting down to the ocean. Some were dead ends, and we followed others to find remote beaches, no population, no food, just gorgeous beaches and waves.

On one side road we reached the ocean on an incredible beach, empty as were all the others. Alongside the road were huge sand dunes. In the distance we saw a huge standing wave, but we could only see the back side of it. Mike Hynson saw something more to this wave, so he grabbed his board and became, almost certainly, the first person to ever surf this perfect standing wave. I joined him and we surfed all afternoon, maybe five hours, with Bruce (Brown) filming away merrily. Then Bruce had an idea: “Let’s have you guys come running down the dunes with your boards as if you had arrived that way, and we’ll include it in the film”.

We dutifully obeyed the director, climbed up those virgin dunes from the far side and ran down to the water while Bruce shot the sequence. “Great,” he said, “but I’d like to do it again. Come down in a different place so we don’t get your earlier footprints in the shot.”

At this point I mutinied: “Look, Bruce, I’ve been surfing for five hours; I’m tired and starving. I’m not getting paid for this, and you want us to run up and down those stupid dunes again!” I walked off the set and he gave up the idea.

After “Endless Summer” was distributed those beaches really took off and the developers arrived. Years later, while filming “Endless Summer II”, we revisited that beach and found miles of condominiums and the “Endless Summer Hotel”. The owner invited me to visit any time. “Everything’s on the house,” he said, “accommodation, food and drinks, as long as you stay.” I never took him up on his offer, but Bruce did and had a wonderful stay.


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