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Fri Oct 21 22:12:33 CAT 2016

Cape Doctor is no cure for the summertime blues

Roxy Davis | 18 January, 2016 00:09
Roxy Davis. File photo
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You don't have to be a surfer to agree that he Cape Doctor is fast becoming Cape Town's most unwanted house guest.

As the ocean is my office, my waking ritual is a cup of coffee and weather forecast check. The wind, ocean tides, groundswell and wave size are always variables that make surfing exciting and different every day.

Using these variables to make an educated guess on the surf is something every surfer does daily. What you decide will determine what board you load onto the car and which wetsuit you pack. When you pull into the car park realising your call was spot on, you have a sense of satisfaction knowing you made the right call.

A usual summer in Cape Town offers a fair share of southerly winds leaving the more capable surfer regularly heading to the Atlantic coast. I'm a keen advocate of a little wind as an offshore surf day offers great potential to hold up a wave's face for a longer ride.

For some reason this summer, the wind, usually just one of the many variables, has become a constant. One week of light offshore catapulted into five weeks of near gale-force winds - it has been a pretty bleak summer for decent surf. The prevailing wind has blown out the surf and pushed the water temperature down to sub 10C leaving ice- cream headaches and choppy sea horses a certainty.

Surfing in these conditions is an art in itself. You need to judge every wave before paddling in, as the back spray in your face can be blinding. It always helps to lay a little further forward on your board, stopping the wind from catching under the nose. When riding down the line, you've had to keep your centre of gravity low and a wider stance always helps get through the chop on the wave's face.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon: with the weekend winds downgraded from gale to "fresh" you can try some of the Cape's more protected beaches like The Hoek in Noordhoek, Sandy Beach and Koel Bay. It's better than a day on the couch.


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