The Great Escape!
Clear lines have been drawn in South Africa when it comes to going surfing.
All the surfing bodies, like Surfing South Africa and World Surf League Africa, have made statements that any members breaking the law will suffer the consequences.
Most, including professionals like Matt McGillivray, Mikey February and Matt Bromley, have adhered to the ruling and have done what they can do help the situation.
Yet the professional surfing side of things, and the competitive side of things, is but an infinitesimal spec of what the real surfing population is in South Africa and in most parts of the world.
Most people don’t care too much about The League, are currently not working as a direct result of the lockdown, just want to go surfing, and they are pissed off.
The rules in South Africa are totally out of whack with reality, and the situation is riddled with utter ridiculousness.
We are currently on an ever-speeding downward spiral of death by poverty and related disease that will dwarf any deaths by COVID-19, but back to the subject.
There have been peaceful protests across the country, and most surfers and authorities dealt with it quickly enough and gave each other some begrudging space. If you have any knowledge of how our politics work and how many poor people are suffering and fighting for survival, literally, with no food and no money, you will understand that no one in the corridors of power cares too much about privileged surfers waving expensive surfboards in the air and asking #when?
In Muizenberg, a massive surfing hub, and mainly suited to beginners, longboarders and SUP surfers, a protest took place during the “exercise period” (more on that later), but the surfers were standing still on their protest vigil, so they were duly arrested for “not exercising”.
One surfer managed to escape into the back alleys of Muizenberg on his bicycle.
In a hilarious, medium-speed bicycle/motorbike/police van chase, he escapes the police dragnet, scattering furious local cops.
Live from Surfer’s Corner:
Surfer protesting for right to surf is placed under arrest by police.
But then makes daring getaway on bicycle.
Police give chase at speed.
— MURRAY WILLIAMS (@NoSurrenderRSA) May 5, 2020
How bad is the situation in South Africa?
Surfing is banned, and all booze is forbidden.
Bottle stores are closed, and if you are buying or dealing in alcohol, you’re going to jail.
Haircuts are also illegal, and pies are outlawed.
I know. Some crazy shit there. To be clear, let’s unpack:
Curfew 8 pm to 5 am, to stop people socializing.
Jogging (exercise) window 6 am – 9 am. But the first hour is pitch black, with sunrise at about 7 am. So, at 7 am the streets are jammed with people desperately trying to exercise, walk their dogs, keep social distancing and do the right things, but there are so many of us all at once it’s a bit counterintuitive.
Surfing – banned. Beaches are closed.
Booze – banned. It is to keep the hospital beds free for COVID patients, as so many hospital beds are usually filled with booze-related emergencies.
Restaurants are closed, and only deliveries are allowed.
Cigarettes – banned, to help the nation build up healthy lungs before they succumb to the disease.
Haircuts – banned. Hair salons are places where people gather and drink coffee and could easily transmit the disease.
Pies and all hot foods in stores – banned. In case people working with hot food are infected, and to prevent the handling of food.
A few months ago a weekend day might have consisted of having a quick haircut*, maybe having a pie, going for a surf, enjoying a few post-surf beers and perhaps a ciggie or two in the car park, picking up the family and going for a pizza and maybe a few more beers.
That has all gone.
It’s like a dream, as we sit around at our house and homeschool our kids and wonder what the fuck just happened and where all the pies are.
And as for Jordy Smith?
After a challenging transition from his repatriation flight from Hawaii, he’s now safe in a hotel in Johannesburg for fourteen days of isolation. He was stuck on the tarmac “without food or water” with 270 fellow South Africans, but they eventually made their way to the quarantine accommodation. He’s in there with Lyndall, so he’s going to be okay.
*Haircut only twice a year, so these exact days don’t happen that often.