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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Jeffreys Bay

Jeffreys Bay

Port Elizabeth - Eastern Cape, South Africa

Surf

The classic Jeffreys Bay is located in South Africa, a few hours from Cape Town, in a 20 kilometre long arc-shaped bay, and exactly 45 kilometres west of Port Elizabeth. It’s quite possibly the best right point break in the world, especially in the kilometre that goes from Boneyards to The Point. A stretch of continuous slabs, vertical walls and barrels that can easily reach 150 metres depending on the conditions. This place has witnessed some great battles from the World Tour and is from where the expression ‘the green room’ takes its meaning. 

jeffrys-bay-south-africa

Jeffreys Bay has long a history which began in 1849 when Captain J.A. Jeffreys landed his ship in the bay and erected the first house, which was later replaced by a hotel. The pioneering South African surfer John Whitmore attempted to surf the waves in 1959 and in the middle of the sixties some surfers from Cape Town attempted Supertubes, but it was too fast for their longboards without leashes which ended up breaking on the rocks, and they were therefore limited to surfing the last sections of The Point and Albatross. In 1963, Bruce Brown accompanied surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August to film the legendary ‘Endless Summer’ where the right, nicknamed ‘The Perfect Wave’, appeared in Cape St. Francis. This was somewhat controversial and Surfer Magazine published an article titled ‘Quest for the Perfect Wave’, in which it criticised the lack of consistency at Cape St. Francis and highlighted the good conditions at Jeffreys.

There were times when legends like Mike Dora, Mike Tabeling, Gavin Rudolph and Bruce Gold (the living legend in J-Bay) were raving about Jeffreys. The Jeffreys Bay fishing port was transforming and in the seventies the first short boards arrived, making it possible to surf the fastest sections more elegantly. Derek Hynd was there with his single along with the Australian Terry Fitzgerald, nicknamed ‘The Sultan of Speed’ and the local idol and World Champion, Shaun Tomson. In 1978 Greg Huglin filmed the film Fantasea, in which Jeffreys Bay appeared with an epic 8 feet. These images captivated many and a prestigious championship was held there from 1981 until 1984 when the elite from the world surfing circuit arrived. The quality of the impressive Supertubes section and the duels that have taken place there means that for many surfers today, it’s one of the top ten waves in the world. In 1984, the World Champion Mark Occhilupo, who revolutionised backside surfing, managed to be crowned when he was only 18 years old at the right point break. The recent 2012 World Champion Joel Parkinson won the competition in 1999 as a wildcard at the same age of 18 years. Mick Fanning won in 2007 and went on to win his first world title.

Without doubt, the most memorable moments were the clashes between the legendary Andy Irons and Kelly Slater. In 2004, Andy won, lining him up for his third world title and in 2005 they gave a memorable final with sets of 8 feet in which Kelly got an excellent wave in the last second to beat Andy, and he later went on to win his seventh world title. It seems clear that this is a place of reference and where the correct combination of size, swell direction, period, bathymetry, tide and wind is synonymous with the perfect wave, and, if you add the control of all of the sections from Boneyards until The Point, the result simply is surfing at its best, and for some, the best ride in the world.

Conditions

Storms from the South of the Atlantic are the motor for Jeffreys, they border South Africa, not too far from the coast, getting stronger in their path and bringing with them meteorological instability and southwest winds which blow offshore on this side of the beach. Despite the weather conditions not being the best, the waves tend to last for 2 to 4 days and you’ll see that at the best moment of each swell the constant pumping of the sets is impressive. The best time is between April and September, with the strongest swells often coming in July and August. The best orientation is WSW and when there’s more SW, the sections are cleaner and hollower.

jeffrys-bay-south-africa

Like the dynamics, the range of peaks and sections is complex. At the right of Dolphin Beach is Kitchen Windows, a consistent reef break which works with little or medium swell. In general, the whole of this area is a good place for schools and surfers that are progressing. Further to the left is Magnatubes, a consistent and exposed peak that throws rights and the occasional left. The Magnatubes right ends very near to the next famous section, Boneyards, which starts to work with 4 or 5 feet and is a barrelling section that normally closes out but sometimes links with the famous Supertubes, a fast slab with constant barrels. Only those with a good level are able to link it to the next section, Impossibles, the fastest and most dangerous when it’s small due to its proximity to the rocks. Pay attention as the bottom is irregular and it separates into three barrel sections known as Salad Bowls, Coins and Tubes. Only when there is unusual sand build up and above all, a good period, do these sections become an extended barrel. In general, you’ll see that from Boneyards, speed is the key and a cutback isn’t recommended unless you’re very fast. The Point is the last section where the first surfers there began, it’s the smoothest and finishes at the beach with the last part, Albatross.

Depending on the section, it can be surfed with all tides from 4 to 12 feet. With average size it is more difficult to link the sections and many prefer to surf Magnatubes or Kitchen Windows. The climate is generally mild out of the water, but you’ll need a wetsuit because the upwelling that the West winds provoke makes the water very cold. Respect Jeffreys and the good locals, above all if you decide to pass through Boneyards.
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Right Pointbreak
  • Wind
    W - SW
  • Tide
    All
  • Swell
    SW
  • Bottom
    Lava Reef
  • Size
    4 to 12 ft
  • Time of year
    From May to September
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