Posts Tagged Cape Town

Surfsisters interviewed Cape Town’s big wave surfer Andy Marr to find out where he dries his wetsuit and other important questions

by Holle in Surf Brother of the Month | No Comments »

Cape Town surf community

It is supposed to be breast cancer awareness month, and big wave surfer Andrew Marr, 37, is rummaging through his wardrobe for pink clothing. He finds a purple T-shirt—one of several from his sponsor O’Neill. He also finds a bracelet that states “I love boobies—keep a breast’, which he got at a big wave competition Todos Santos in 2010. The bracelet is blue, but he used to have a pink one as well. As he moves on to chopping vegetables for dinner, Surfsisters catch up with him on some important issues.

Andy Marr big wave surfing rebel session

Andy Marr - Rebel 2011 - image courtesy of Andrew Brauteseth

Surfsisters: What do you wear under your wetsuit?

Andrew Marr: Zero. Like underneath any pants really. Haven’t worn undies for years.

Surfsisters: Do you put your wetsuit in the washing machine?

Andrew Marr: I never leave it in the sun to dry. I have many wetsuits so I have the luxury to let them dry out slowly out of the sun. Never, ever put your wetsuit in the machine!

Surfsisters: How high is your tolerance for salty, crusty and dry hair? Many surfsisters know we have no time for conditioning and sun and salt water is harsh on it…

Andrew Marr: I think salty, crusty, sunburnt hair is the best thing. Absolutely beautiful.

Surfsisters: What hair products do you use?

Andrew Marr: 2 in 1 Organics. [But since the 2 in 1 is more expensive than buying shampoo and conditioner separately, he mixes his own.]

Surfsisters: As a big wave surfer, do you ever hang out in Muizenberg?

Andrew Marr: Yes, on occasion. Love to surf Muizenberg, Came jolly close to barreling the other day! Someone must have got a barrel at Muizenberg before? Is it impossible? Must be half-possible…?

Andy Marr - Big wave surfing Cape Town

Andrew Marr - Rebel session 2005

Surfsisters: In your eyes, is longboarding or shortboarding more female?

Andrew Marr: I think it’s entirely up to the individual. But a woman can look very graceful on a longboard, walking the nose and stuff with a feminine touch is lovely. Like a ballerina. But there is definitely no gender association with any type of board! Wave riding is free, and your vehicle is your choice.

Surfsisters: Where can I store my boards at your house if I happen to stay overnight?

Andrew Marr: You can take your pick! See if you can find a gap in the rack or behind the couch.

Big waves at Cape Town's surf spot Dungeons

Andrew Marr at Dungeons - Image courtesy of Andrew Brauteseth

Surfsisters: What is your take on women on surf trips, and who is in your usual crew?

Andrew Marr: Women are a lovely asset to a surf trip. I usually travel with Mickey Duffus and Simon Lowe, and there has never been a women surfer with us…. Oh, there was Maya Gabeira. We tried to tow the Breederiver mouth, but got skunked/foxed. The banks weren’t right. It made no different that she was a woman, she was just another surfer on the trip. She blended into the programme just fine.
[Andrew starts chopping some more veggies, before he realises something…] “Ah, I have been on surf trips with you!”

Surfsisters: Can girls rip?

Andrew Marr: Girls can rip!

Surfsisters: Thank you for chatting to us Andy. Give us a final sentence please.

Andrew Marr: Surfing must be one of the greatest blessings on the planet- enjoy the ride!

Got what it takes? Please contact Surfsisters to be featuring in the next issue of Surfbru of the month.

Ladies wetsuit survey – lets find the best wetsuit in town

by Holle in Blame the equipment | No Comments »

Hello Surfsister!

Wetsuit survey Cape Town surf spots

Even dogs wear wet(pet)suits in Cape Town

A very warm welcome to this survey. We would like to learn about your experience with wetsuits. Being a woman surfing in Cape Town, we all know what difference a good wetsuit makes.

We believe that there are a number of gender specific needs and insides into this topic and would like to capture the views of as many women as possible to be able to report back to you so that you can make informed decisions when buying your new wetsuit.

Potentially, we can also feed information back to the surf brands and local suppliers.

We kept the questionnaire as short as possible. The more detailed information we get, the better, so please make extensive use of the white boxes below questions for comments. If your story doesn’t fit in the questionnaire, please send an email with the subject ‘wetsuit survey’ to

So, let’s do this! The survey is anonymous >>>> GOOooooo Wetsuit survey

Thanks a lot for sharing your time with us!


P.S. Sorry guys. I know there are quite a few male Surfsisters amongst us, but this survey is for ladies only.

The smallest weekend

by Linda Nordling in Soul Food | No Comments »

Paternoster, a picture postcard fishing village north of Langebaan on the West Coast, isn’t exactly famous for its waves. But that didn’t stop a group of surfsisters from bringing our boards to a girls’ weekend away.

I am sure many fellow sisters have faced this conundrum. You have a girly weekend away with your friends to book. You want a spot that will allow you to sneak in a wave or three between wine-drinking and gossiping sessions. But your non-surfing friends have other mod cons in mind: restaurants, hikes, views, swimming-friendly seas. The list can be long.

Yoga and surfing South Africa

Surfing Yoga with the girls - by Holle Wlokas

Paternoster, north of Langebaan on the West Coast, seemed like a good compromise. Not a Mecca for surfers, although it’s not far from the legendary left at Elands Bay. And the picture-postcard village has a well-stocked convenience store and even some bars for late-night reveling.

When we got there on the Friday evening, the town itself lived up to its reputation. The house we rented had a view straight onto the beach—not bad for budget accommodation. The surf, however, left something to be desired. Now, I don’t know what Paternoster beach looks like on a big swell. Mushburgers, perhaps. But on a small swell—the sort that graced our arrival—the bay looks the Mediterranean on a flat day.

The two of us with boards (a third would join us on the Saturday) took one look at the lapping waves and stored our boards under our beds. We cooked food, and drank some wine, and then drank some more, and played board games.

The next day, dawn broke on what was—if possible—an even flatter ocean. Stiff and hot from the 1.5 hour drive up from Cape Town, I took a stroll down the beach. But the waves just went from unsurfably tiny and clean to messy and 2 foot onshore slop. A drive to the other side of town produced equally disappointing conditions. So it was back to eating, and drinking, and some yoga. Some people went swimming, sans boards though.

On the Saturday afternoon, the sixth member of our weekend away and fellow surfsister Holle Wlokas arrived. Now we were three gals with boards. The evening was blissful and the weather sunny. But the ocean was flat as a tabletop.

To wash away our surf blues, Holle and I went for a swim, and marveled at the warm temperature of the sea. It was October, and we were in bikinis on the West Coast. When does this happen? As the first set of not-even-foot high waves rolled in, we looked at each other. Maybe we should try one wave, just in case…

Weekend surf spots near Cape Town

Paternoster at low tide - by Laura Vignoli

A minute and a half later we were back on the beach with our boards. We walked out to the back, which was about waist deep, and waited for a set. When it came, we both paddled, family wave style, into the minute waves, not hoping for much… And then, sliding down the tiny faces, we realized—this is possible!!

Hearing us laughing and whooping, the others soon joined us. In the end we were five girls playing on three boards. One hadn’t even been waxed, and posed a fun challenge for all of us. We surfed any way we could in the golden sunlight, trying to keep our bodies within the confines of our bikinis, laughing for a half hour straight. Disrupting a wedding on the beach.

It’s probably the smallest waves I’ve every surfed. But the session was one of the best I’ve ever had. Because in the end, finding your stoke isn’t always about chasing the biggest waves, or the longest ride. It’s about sharing special times in the ocean with your friends.
Linda Nordling

Surfing in South Africa - Paternoster

View with tiny waves - by Holle Wlokas

We stayed at MIKANOSTER, a self-catering cottage 150m from the beach that sleeps up to 6-8 people in three bedrooms. We paid 1200R per night for six people. The drive from Cape Town to paternoster is 150 km. There are food and wine shops in Paternoster, as well as restaurants for those who don’t want to cook. The town is also known for its art galleries.

A beginners guide to – Size Really Does Matter

by Nailah Furnival in Blame the equipment | 1 Comment »

Ugh! I have chastised myself, all the way through writing this story, about sounding so ‘Cosmo’. So girly. But I am a girly, lest I forget. I love being a girl: painting my toenails, getting my hair done, flirting with the boys on the dance floor and such things. I’m a bona fide surfsister.
So, when I decided to get my very own, very first board shaped, I did the ‘Cosmo’, “oh woe is me! back of hand slapping up against forehead” thing. The damsel in distress vibe. Up until very recently, surfing in Cape Town has been a bro’s world. Somewhat of a gentleman’s club. Ha ha ha – you know what that’s a euphemism for? I digress.

Cape Town Shaper

Dave Stubb's surfboard factory

I’d only been on the scene for a year and I really didn’t know a whole lot about surfboards and all the different shapes they come in. I’d been mucking about on a friend’s 6’3, affectionately known as ‘the toothpick’ and had no idea of these things called longboards or minimals. I grew up in Sea Point, and being one of the most insular ‘hoods in South Africa, I had never actually seen anyone surf anything other than a shortboard. Still, that’s no excuse for my barefaced idiocy. I mean seriously, after my first trip to Muizies, one would think I would’ve developed some clarity on the matter. The fact that it took me six months just to paddle hard enough to keep up with the foamies, on that toothpick (I hadn’t even started standing yet) would’ve been a screaming message to me to GET A BIGGER BOARD . . . apparently not. All I wanted to know was – and herein lies my first biggest mistake in surfing – I was going to be a shortboarder! Riding the Factory. By next year. This story has a sub-moral to it too, which I’ll tell you later – it has to do with my little friend, Ego.

Back to size counts. I wanted to get my first board and really wanted one tailor-made just for me. A board that would take my dimensions and level of strength into consideration, as well as my level of performance, or lack thereof. So I went to the experts, my bros, for advice. What I found was that almost every surfer in the world has his own idea of ‘what’s-what’ when it comes to the right board. They’re all experts, and they almost all have opposing opinions.

Similarly, this is the case with shapers. Their opinions presumably are more valid as there is a good chance they’re actually mathematically sound. However, every shaper has his own personal style and favourite spots to surf and this affects his frame of reference. Perfectly acceptable. What I figured out later, with regards to shapers, was that we should allow for intuition when making this decision of who shapes our boards. It’s not just about aqua-dynamics and biology. Your shaper either understands your needs, or he doesn’t. And this you can feel in the first five minutes you’re in his company. Seriously: trust your gut. If you don’t click with him, chances are you’re not going to click with your stick.

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, any kind of expert. I can only tell you about what I deduced from my own little exercise – I compiled a short generic list of: ‘aah ssssh*t, if only I knew then what I know now.’ Besides width, length and thickness, I discovered aqua-dynamics, biology and hey-sjoe-wow: the shaper’s energy.

Like aerodynamics, but the water version. And please note, I’ve made this word up. I’ve yet to find two waves that are the same. And I’ve never even surfed outside of South Africa. In Cape Town for instance, the West Coast/Atlantic conditions are very different from that of False Bay. False Bay tends to be gentler, slower and less hollow, whereas the Atlantic is more powerful, faster, crunching and steep. Chances are that if it’s your first board, you’re probably surfing Muizenberg, Long Beach, Milnerton and maybe the Shipwreck. These spots are all good longboard and minimal spots, which are wonderful beginner boards. You may actually stand up in under six months. These waves are slower and sometimes have very little punch to them. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when these spots are pretty hairy, make no mistake, but generally you have some time to sort your life out. To compensate for the lack of push in the wave, it is advisable to have a bigger board, with lots of surface area to give you more buoyancy to help glide over the water. Also in the case of longboards, minimals and fishes, the rails tend to follow an almost straight line from nose to tail. This means that more water is ‘pushed’ out of the way, for longer, which enables you to propel yourself forward at a greater distance, with very little effort. The board does the work.

We’re actually chicks. As one shaper told me: ‘There is no way on God’s green earth that a woman will ever have the same kind of power in her shoulders as a man.” We’re just not made that way. My best friend, who is a surfer/physiotherapist/girl, with very large ‘cajones’ I might add, confirms this. She says, that due to our anatomy, we should ride differently shaped boards from boys. We simply don’t have the same power. It’s not a macho, chauvinist thing, it’s just biology. And quite frankly, I don’t want that kind of power if it means I’m going to look like Miss Extreme Body USA. I’d rather just compensate for my lack of power, by changing the shape of my surfboard slightly. Don’t be scared to have a nice wide nose if you opt for a slightly shorter board. It’ll dramatically increase your speed paddling into waves. And I know this because I’ve spent a fair amount of time getting caught in lips and whipped over falls, because I was too slow paddling into waves. The first day I paddled my wider nosed thicker board out, I dropped my rate of incidence by possibly 80%. The other 20% was due to my being a rubbish surfer.

A thicker board also helps. The more buoyant, the more effortless your glide. The faster you go, the less your chance of getting whipped over. The problem with a thicker board, your shaper will tell you, is it is harder to duck dive. And it is. But you’ll build the strength and eventually you’ll have your technique right so it won’t matter that your board is thicker. It might just be my personal preference, but I prefer to battle more when paddling out to the line up, and worrying less when paddling into waves. It means less panic at takeoff and you may also find that this will help you to set yourself up better to ride the wave. It’s a tradeoff.

The ‘Hey-Sjoe-Wow’ Factor of your shaper
Shapers are all sooooo sexy. I won’t bore you with my analysis on that, but they are. After all, these guys are the custodians of our happiness – like dealers. We want to do everything they tell us to, because they know Everything. They hold the key. Don’t get misty eyed by all that sexiness and clever surf talk. Try to stay objective and ‘outside’ of the situation. Most of what these guys will tell you will make not one ounce of sense to you. These okes have all been surfing for like 20-plus years. They quite literally are on a level we can’t imagine yet. When they do that, bring them back to the basics. If they suggest something in the shape of the board that will enable you to do something you don’t understand, bring them back to the basics – easy to paddle into waves, stability when popping up. At this stage all you need is something you can trim on, not something ridiculously responsive. If you ‘feel’ like you’re not being heard and you feel like there may be a little condescension going on, just be cool. Take in what you can and then go shopping. Shapers obviously know a lot more than you do, but you know when something is right and easy and when it’s not. If it’s starts feeling like a battle, leave it. It might be that you want your shaper to make all the decisions for you. That’s also okay; just do what feels right. Seriously, go talk to a whole bunch of shapers. You’ll learn shed-loads from them if you do, plus you will be able to gaze at all those sexy men. Don’t rush into making a decision.

Things I’ve learned so far

1) The learning curve in surfing is slow and so should your first board be. This will simply give you more time. It will slow the situation down and help you be more cognisant of what’s happening around you. This will enable you to plan your next move. The more experience you gain, the more responsive you’ll want your board to be. There are of course exceptions, but for most of us it’s a slow journey. Be grateful for that and enjoy every moment and every droplet of water while you’re out there.

2) It’s nearly five years now and I’m still nowhere near being ready to surf the Factory.

3) No matter what anyone tells you, there are no hard and fast rules regarding what style of board should be ridden where. That, as far as I’m concerned, is ‘jus’ some ‘ol bullshit’ that got made up in the 80s. Watch some of those old 70s Dick Hoole & Jack McCoy surf movies. “Bustin’ Down the Backdoor” and “In Search of Tubular Swells”, and then come and tell me you can’t get barrelled on a fat chunky single fin – ala Mark Richards. In terms of surfboard shapes, really the possibilities have only just begun.

4) Most importantly to trust my gut. To listen to the academics and then to feel how I feel about the person delivering it.
How fortunate I am to have discovered this way of life and how much better I am for it.

Later, hommie chickas.