Surfer’s Corner has been a popular place for all surﬁng enthusiasts for more than a century.
From prone surﬁng on wooden belly boards to the ﬁrst stand-up surﬁng recorded in SA and the establishment of local surfboard design and construction, Muizenberg has been at the heart of surﬁng in South Africa.
Branderplankry-entoesiaste stroom al meer as ‘n eeu lank na Surfer’s Corner. Muizenberg is die hart van branderplankry in die land – van maagbranderplankry op houtlyfplanke tot die eerste staan-branderplankry wat destyds in Suid-Afrika opgeteken is en die begin van plaaslike branderplankontwerp en -bou.
Surf-boarding made Muizenberg the most popular holiday resort in SA.
It became so popular in that the municipality hired out thousands of surf-boards, costumes, bathing caps, towels and deck chairs.
In an attempt to lure up-country visitors, The Cape Peninsula Publicity Association brochure of 1918 had this to say about surﬁng:
“In the Paciﬁc the islanders have made it an art. At the Cape it has become a cult. The wild exhilaration is infectious. It steadies the nerves, exercises the muscles and makes the enthusiast clear headed and clear eyed.
Life and good spirits are qualities of the surf bather.”
It seems nothing much has changed in a hundred years!
Returning from World War 1, pilot Tony Bowman settled in Muizenberg in 1921. After reading the Cruise of the Snark by Jack London in which he described surﬁng on Waikiki Beach, Tony set his mind to riding waves. He constructed his own versions of surf “boats” and wrote to the Honolulu Tourist Association for pictures of surﬁng from which he deduced the dimensions of the boards being used in Hawaii at that time.
Tony, Lex Miller and Bobby van der Riet constructed three boards using a hollow timber construction covered with canvass and painted to make the boards watertight. The ‘Three Arcadians’ made the boards in a workshop behind the Arcadia Tea Room and improved their boards with each attempt. Soon they were joined by many others and stand-up surﬁng became established at Muizenberg.
The earliest recorded stand-up surﬁng in SA took place in Muizenberg in 1919. A Cape Town woman, Heather Price, befriended two U.S. Marines whose ship had stopped over in Cape Town en route to America after WWI.
Heather posing with Hawaiian style stand-up surf board
The two men brought solid wooden “Hawaiian” Style surfboards. According to Heather they took their boards with them when they sailed.
The decade of the “Hippies”… The beach lifestyle became ‘fashionable’ and Muizenberg was the epicenter of the “Surf Culture” in the Cape as was Durban in Natal. Bruce Brown’s classic movie The Endless Summer gave fame and prominence to some of the best waves in the world.
1980s & 1990s
After the advent of Shortboarding in the late 60′s / early 70′s, Longboard Surﬁng waned as a formalised surﬁng discipline. However, in 1989 the sport was re-generated with the establishment of WP Longboard Surﬁng (based in clubhouse in Muizenberg).
The SA Champs have been held annually since 1989 with WP, EP and KZN each hosting the Champs in turn. Longboarders represent the biggest chunk of the surﬁng fraternity, as the Muizenberg wave is a gentle one, perfect for the classic manoeuvres of Longboarding.
The Earthwave global surf challenge is a Cape Town initiative which attempts to break the Guinness World record for the most surfers riding one wave simultaneously. This challenge takes place annually on beaches world wide in September.
The challenge seeks to raise awareness and offers practical advice on how to combat the threat of global warming and its effects on our oceans.