Spot Check - TAND - South Africa

It’s a long way down - Photo:  @alanvangysen

It’s a long way down - Photo: @alanvangysen

“Situated just south of Paternoster - one of the oldest fishing villages up South Africa’s west coast, is a rugged stretch of nature reserve more famous for its crayfish (rock lobster), perlemoen (abalone) and bokkoms (dried fish - usually mullet) than it’s surfing. But a core group of bodyboarders - and the odd crazy standup, have been courting one particularly special bit of reef for over a decade now - and not for the sea creatures. With giant granite rock shelves and boulders strewn along the coast both in and out of the water it is little wonder that one of Africa’s best slabs would be found here - Tand. 

In colloquial Afrikaans Tand simply translates to tooth. Named for the giant granite spire that sticks out of the water like an ogres tooth in front of the wave - not to be confused with the slab itself, although it is equally impressive and dangerous, Tand produces impressive explosions of white water every set and makes paddling in very treacherous. Driving in along the dusty dirt road from Paternoster numerous other slabs, reefs and rocky ledges catch your eye as stacked lines from the horizon marched in and untold onto Southern Africa. These waves are legitimate options but certainly more fickle - preferring very specific conditions, making them difficult to commit to when you know Tand is on. The left inside the camping site is particularly mesmerising and picturesque.” - Alan Van Gysen

Tristan Roberts in full flight - Photo:  @alanvangysen

Tristan Roberts in full flight - Photo: @alanvangysen

“The best possible way to explain Tand, is picturing yourself taking off on a wall of water which has this first big boil you which you always paddle as hard as you can to get over, you looking straight at this massive rock which is straight in front of you as you paddling into it. Then once you feel you have momentum, you look down the line at this right hander and depending on how deep you are and how hard it’s wrapping on the reef, you either stalling for a picture perfect pit or you heading with all the drive you could possibly get into a bodyboarders dream ramp.  I guess the rock is what makes it most scary, if you nose dive or don’t make it over the step on the paddle in, you heading straight to doomsday.” - Tristan Roberts

The lineup - Photo:  @alanvangysen

The lineup - Photo: @alanvangysen

“Pulling into the mussel-caked carpark Tand can be clearly seen out right, through the car window. Usually a winter wave, it prefers season NW winds and clean groundswells. These swells make their approach - focusing on the slab, slow down as they hit the bottom - going top-heavy, and then lurch - throwing wide open on take-off into the barrel, before running off a short point like section - perfect for launching. It’s an intense wave, with lots of water moving around. The first time you jump in and paddle out your heart is in your throat beating like steady drum - you have to jump into a crevice formed between the wave itself and two other jagged sections of rock. Waves crash all around and the current is sucking hard in and out. Wait for the drain and then commit.” - Alan Van Gysen 

“The locals are some of the nicest people you'll find and they charge hard. They are called ‘The Weskuskinnes’ - They kept this spot secret for a very long time taking people there blindfolded. But word got out.” - Allan Horton

Photo:  @alanvangysen

“There is kind of a plan B, there is a beachy that gets real good around there but it is about 45 mins back in the direction you just came and it works on the exact same tide as Tand so if you’re with a crew that’s pretty on it and decisive you could still redeem your trip, it also doesn’t hurt that the town that homes that beachy also homes the best coffee shop and bakery on the west coast!” - Wilder Schultz

Tristan Roberts - Photo:  @alanvangysen

Tristan Roberts - Photo: @alanvangysen

“My most memorable session would have to be when I scored it alone with only photographers and filmers around . I rocked up with photographer Allan Horton expecting it to be crowded . And there was no one in sight with perfect 4-6 ft waves running along the reef . Michael Veltman and some friends who had been camping there and were keen to film and this day we filmed the clip which we dropped named “Felicity”  ! The whole time while I was surfing , I was expecting other cars to rock up and no one did . Every time I think about it ,  I start getting butterflies thinking of damn happy I was that day . It was honestly a crazy experience to paddle back and leave good waves in order to try pick out the more perfect ones. I was just overwhelmed at this point . I’d look around me and splash my face with water to try wipe the smile off my face.” - Tristan Roberts

Photo:  @alanvangysen

“Like any nature reserve or stretch of coast in Southern Africa wildlife abound both in and out of the water. Although I’ve never seen any apex predators give Tand a drive-by, they certainly are out there of that I’m sure. Giant southern right whales will come right into the bay to check out the show - making one realise how deep the drop-off is next to Tand. Dusky dolphins speed into the zone and launch out of the water to say hi. Penguins lazily swim on by in groups of three of four. And all kinds of birds and fish frequent the area.” - Alan Van Gysen

Allan Horton - Photo:  @alanvangysen

Allan Horton - Photo: @alanvangysen

“My most memorable session would have to be last week Friday - 11 January 2019. As mentioned it is traditionally a winter wave and best just before a cold-front. This usually means pre-frontal weather - clouds, light rain, strong side-off shore winds etc. Friday was completely different. Sunny, blue sky, light offshore winds, no rain and glassy conditions. Southern Africa is having what I believe to be an El Nino year again so we’ve already had some interesting big swells. Waves like Dungeons and Tand breaking completely out of season. To see the blue of the water and how clean everything looks through my lens was very special. Everyone out this day was saying it was the best they had ever seen it.” - Alan Van Gysen

Iain Campbell racing to get in front of ‘The Tand’ - Photo:  @alanvangysen

Iain Campbell racing to get in front of ‘The Tand’ - Photo: @alanvangysen

“This place is special, it’s one of those waves you hate missing a session at and when the chart comes around, I try rearrange any plans I had for that day as quick as possible. If you are willing to battle the cold waters, you are in for a damn good day on the boogie.” - Tristan Roberts

“The danger of this wave is intense because if you get caught at the takeoff you going over the falls into a massive black muscle infested dry rock. I've seen some really bad wipeouts there,broken backs broken knees broken noses are the consequences by taking on this wave.” - Allan Horton

Henk Esterhuysen in perfect little nugg - Photo:  @alanvangysen

Henk Esterhuysen in perfect little nugg - Photo: @alanvangysen

“Tristan and Jerry both have a freakishly good air game out there, but they kinda just do everywhere they go I guess? (laughs) But man, as far as just picking out the bombs and making them count goes I reckon it would be Henk Esterhuysen, one of the locals and pioneers there, I’m not too sure I’ve actually seen him ride a bad wave there!” - Wilder Schultz

Iain proving why he is one of the world’s best - Photo:  @alanvangysen

Iain proving why he is one of the world’s best - Photo: @alanvangysen

“It’s tough to say who rides it the best, cause to me I don’t really rate the barrel that hard as I love to watch the air game people have at such a perfect ramp. Of course the barrels can be so good, but when that ramp presents itself, I like to see people use it. The best guy I have seen really go at those has to be Jared Houston. He really sets the bar high and it’s so sick to watch.” - Tristan Roberts

No takers?! - Photo:  @alanvangysen

No takers?! - Photo: @alanvangysen

“There are some waves not far from it, but nothing really compares. If you drive out there and expect to surf Tand and it’s not happening. You either checking one or two beaches which could be good on it’s day, or you grabbing a coffee and listening to depressing music on the drive home.” - Tristan Roberts

Mafoos Lombard flaring - Photo:  @alanvangysen

Mafoos Lombard flaring - Photo: @alanvangysen

“Although the odd standup gives it a notable go - slab hunters like Matt Bromley, it really was made for bodyboarding. With little room for error the take-off spot is literally right in front of the dry slab, the drop and scoop-in is often under the lip while its barreling on the sets overhead. Just ask Peter Lambert about his near fatal back-breaking injury some years back. He’s ok now, but a wipe-out here isn’t trivial. Some of the best I have ever seen and heard charge Tand are stalwart regulars like Allan Horton, Iain Campbell, Tristan Roberts, Rupert le Grange, Peter Lambert, Henk Loubser, Andre Botha, Wilder Schultz and Mafoos Lombard to name a few.” - Alan Van Gysen

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