Surfer escapes police dragnet in South Africa in daring escape. | Photo: Pee Wee's Big Adventure

Watch: South African surfer makes daring escape from COVID cops on bike; man arrested on beach for “standing still; Jordy Smith stranded “without food and water at airport!”

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.


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.

Even cigarettes are banned.

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.

Read about Jordy’s plight here.

*Haircut only twice a year, so these exact days don’t happen that often.

Police drawing of the modern surfer.
Police drawing of the modern surfer.

A composite sketch of the modern surfer as revealed under the burning hot klieg light of pandemic disease!

A helpful tool.

This Coronavirus, evil, malicious, bad, etc. is evil, malicious and bad but we here are anti-depressive sorts, glass always at least half full, and over the past three odd months, under its burning bright klieg light, we have learned so much.

A composite of the modern surfer, for example, has become perfectly clear. This knowledge can be used to lift heretofore failing brands out of the wreckage. To dust off Santa Monica’s World Surf League and allow it to soar.

So who is he?

The modern surfer is slightly overweight.

The modern surfer rides a variety of surfboards but refers to them all as crafts or sleds.

The modern surfer is very anti-firearm.

The modern surfer loves to shoot a firearm, when culturally appropriate, and cannot stifle his giggle.

The modern surfer is hyper aware of his age and the tropes associated with his age, ironically sending them up while earnestly embracing at the same time. (Example: Instagram self-portrait featuring a full beard, jaunty hat, dangling cigarette or joint, pants cuffed high with caption: “Living that 34-year-old life!)

The modern surfer prides himself on being well-read and wise.

The modern surfer skims The New York Times on his phone and draws wisdom from something he heard Malcom Gladwell say on a podcast.

The modern surfer is a progressive free thinker deriving his own opinions from all available information.

The modern surfer is gregarious and handsy in public, head thrown back and howls of laughter when something funny has been said, hands on friends’ shoulders for a playful massage, etc. This behavior is ramped up by four when a camera is present.

The modern surfer has grown up soft but spices his history, in the retelling, with tales of daring-do from fathers, uncles, etc. (Example: My dad was a pirate, in a punk band, jailed, etc.)

The modern surfer decries the stupidity of dumb, ignorant, white middle American/Australian racist hicks.

The modern surfer is extremely tolerant.

The modern surfer drinks craft cocktails, craft beer, cheap wine.

The modern surfer is a feminist.

The modern surfer does not believe anything unless it first appears in establishment media and is backed by establishment-approved pundits.

The modern surfer believes himself to be a “power surfer.”

The modern surfer loves the ease and comfort of not having to break-up with chicks face-to-face anymore thanks to app dating.

The modern surfer drops phrases like “Get out there this morning?” “Couple fun little head dips.” “Might get out there later.” and will participate in every #HomeBreakChallenge “SprayChallenge” but also believes that defining himself as a “surfer” is limiting and pointless.

The modern surfer is “here for a good time, not a long time.”

The modern surfer makes sure to follow every edict that pertains to “staying safe” in the age of pandemic disease and quickly resorts to public shaming of those who put him in danger.

The modern surfer has done and will do cocaine in a public bathroom.

The modern surfer has blocked an average of 6 people on Instagram.

The modern surfer would never say it out loud but considers himself an “influencer” amongst his 3k – 8k followers.

Surfer-parent (pictured) getting hauled off in South Africa.
Surfer-parent (pictured) getting hauled off in South Africa.

South African surfers explode in rage over hypocritical, draconian “shelter in place” policing as toddlers arrested for being on beach!

Surfing is a crime.

Will the worldwide singling out of surfers as public enemies no. 1 ever end or has Coronavirus given police states the reason, the power, they need to deal our kind a decisive blow?

More to the point, should our kind be wiped from the face of the earth forever?

The sensible surf media has made its position clear with a resounding “Yes!”

“Surfing is a frivolous pursuit…” Stab, Surfline, The Inertia, the World Surf League declare “…a meaningless nothing especially when we can save billions of lives through science-based actions like being very scared, cowering indoors, hiding in the dark, etc.”

And I am certain the sensible surf media is applauding South Africa right where the police are arresting the parent, likely surfers, for allowing their toddlers, likely future surfers, to run out out on the sand.

Shall we learn more?

The frustration in South Africa with ministers and police appearing to be more focussed on minor crimes – based on rules created during Lockdown – than on helping guide the public on social distancing measures that are safe and that prevent the spread of the coronavirus, has been highlighted by a meme which went viral today.

The meme shows four police officers attending to a solo surfer, apparently in the Eastern Cape, whilst meanwhile – in the picture below it – there’s barely an officer in sight to help as a desperate crowd of people are pushed up extremely close to one another.

Well known South African musician Don Clarke re-posted the meme this morning, and said: “The double standards being practised by our government right now are mind blowing!… Everything visible on stage is badly delivered, while behind the curtains the reality is absolute chaos.”

This morning in Muizenberg a handful of protesting #BackintheWater surfers were arrested (whilst one made a get-away on a bicycle) when they didn’t keep moving in accordance with the regulation that South Africans are allowed to exercise between 6am and 9am.

According to some reports, research shows that the virus could be easily discharged into the air by sea spray or foam.

Meanwhile a Muizenberg father, Liam Bulgen, described to Cape Talk how he and his partner were put into a police van after their 21-month-old toddler ran onto the beach and he went to grab her, whilst they were walking on the promenade.

I’m sure the 21-month-old toddler was put in the police van too, thereby arrested, but shame on South African surfers. They should all be science-based and participating in the World Surf League’s #HomeBreakChallenge.

It is extremely whimsical and fun.

Sponsored Post: Introducing a surfboard rack so tidy you’ll move those favorite li’l beauties from the basement to the penthouse and delight your spouse!

It's like magic!

I don’t feel the burning pangs of jealousy much but a man, or woman, with surfboards functionally displayed in a living space gets me every time.

Surfboards are, of course, our playthings but also undeniable works of art, those curves, that rocker, and keeping them locked in garages or basements is as cruel as it is stupid.

Like displaying Picassos into an outhouse.

My Picassos are displayed in the garage, standing on some moldy carpet, held in place by dowels drilled into a two-by-four.


Well, just the other day I received a brand new QuiverGrip system in the mail. It was minimal, functional, sleek. Adjectives I most admire in my surf accessories.

I wanted to go rip the two-by-four and dowel setup straight out of the garage but that seemed like work and the garage seemed too depressing.

That’s when genius struck.

I would move three of my favorite boards upstairs to the bedroom.

My wife wasn’t home so I couldn’t run it by her but who doesn’t love Picasso?

I am not a handy man but any dimwit with an electric screwdriver and level could sort out how to install and I had it up in five minutes flat.


The three boards I chose were my Vulcan pintail gun for big days at Turtles, the JC board that carried me across Yemen and an Album twin fin, my everyday go to.

I laid down on the bed admiring my work, when finished, and am excited for my wife to come home too.

Our bedroom is now a museum.

Make your bedroom a museum too.

Or an outside fencepost or backyard tree or… honestly anything.

Everything is better with a surfboard on it.

Order here!

Longtom reviews Hobgood documentary And Two If By Sea: “This journey into character and emotional transparency marks a shift in surf film-making!”

Ugly babies, beautiful men!

What baggage do you bring, what preconceived notions do you harbour when it comes to the question of the Hobgood twins?

To be honest my knowledge was shamefully scant, before I sat down and watched their doco: And Two If By Sea.

A variation of the question, what is a Hobgood, answered by friends, family and fellow travellers on the pro tour, anchors the opening and closing scenes of the film.

One proffered answer, “A southern fried chicken surfing hillbilly” put me on side straight away.

I’m a version of that human animal myself, minus the Jesus infatuation.

As far as paying attention while their storied careers played out, the Hobgoods were mostly a background hum for me, surfers I was vaguely aware of, who came into focus during Tahiti or Fijian interludes.

In the pantheon of smooth American goofyfoots, in the generation before I was a Machado man, at least until The Drifter was released. During the time of the Hobgoods’ Pro Tour reign that coincided with watchable webcasts (say post 2005) the harder edge of Martinez was more my bag.

As they’ve aged the twins have become more physically distinct.

Damo, more solid, square jawed and handsome.

CJ, a little rattier, more Florida dirtbag, if I could use that term in it’s most affectionate way.

Early family footage of Dad Clifton, with the moustache and the mullet, a boss hog of the south is eerily similar to current day CJ.

The doco, follows a traditional biographical precis, the early family life is detailed, as a by-product shedding more light on how small Floridian surf can incubate and birth such a prodigious output of world-class surfing talent.

That combination of small, coastal towns, warm water, copious surf time and ultra-competitive sibling or small town relationships is now mirrored in current times in the Brazilian explosion.

The story of brothers has been compelling since Cain and Abel. Surfing brothers are no exception.

In the case of Bruce and Andy, it was a tale of competitiveness and risk taking that bordered on a death wish, with a tragic ending. CJ and Damo’s arc is less Greek tragedy and more classic hero’s journey.

They both make the Tour, enjoy life as globe-trotting studs, at one point being the highest-paid sibling combination on Tour.

An “accidental” World Title falls into CJ’s lap as a result of September 11, 2001. His humility in struggling to accept the legitimacy of the Title is refreshing. The regret overlaid onto the achievement by Damo makes it more poignant. Damo was surfing Pipe when the Title was awarded at Sunset.

He missed his brother’s signature achievement. Those misses cut deep.

The guts of the film deals with Teahupoo, and the fall-out on family life from pursuing passion and points in this extreme arena amidst the intense sibling rivalry.

In that sense the doco takes on an almost war-time feel.

You could slot the famous opening dialogue in the Saigon Hotel Room from Apocalypse Now in there. You know the one, where Martin Sheen can’t cope with the return to normal life after the intensity of Vietnam, gets divorced and heads back into the chaos of war: “When I was here I wanted to be there, when I was there all I could think of was getting back in the jungle.”

The best scenes of the film are found here.

CJ’s mind-blowing west bomb with Damo just inside. Damo’s dislocated shoulder on the opening wave of his Final with Kelly Slater in 2005. That’s the Final where Kelly bagged two tens, including the opened beer can inside the tube.

A move that Damo, who was absent from the Final on his way to hospital, described as “disrespectful.”

The agony and the ecstacy is real, as is the terror, and the consequences.

The modern American cult of optimism posits fear as nothing but a troublesome psychological construct.

The Teahupoo wipeout scenes are a stunning rebuke of that concept.

“What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing,” is the mantra put forth by Hollywood celebrities like Will Smith.

What’s on the other side of fear at Teahupoo is illustrated by Damo Hobgood in one of the most powerful passages in the film, when he talks us through an almost fatal wipe-out, describing putting his fingers into holes in his head after collision with the reef and a cool, divine breeze flowing through a deeply altered state of consciousness as his life swung in the balance. The post-traumatic impact is hinted at when Damo phones his Mum Maureen in a scene of deep emotional reckoning.

The film is worth watching for this scene alone.

CJ cops his own emotional reckoning in Tahiti.

The glamour and the temptations of tour life meant he couldn’t keep it in his pants and the weight of the infidelity caused a breakdown in the crucible of Teahupoo.

“The wages of sin is death,” is the mental self-talk that he mercilessly flagellates himself with. The resulting divorce once his babe finds out the news and the disintegration of his family unit is the first time the fallout of the pro surfing life is directly dealt with.

This journey into character and emotional transparency does mark a shift in surf film-making.

It sets this film, and others like Heavy Water, Kissed by God and even Momentum Generation apart from the more chest-thumping, boys own adventure, weren’t we all magnificent tone of docos like Riding Giants and Busting Down the Door, to name a couple off the top of my head.

I like this new wave of revealing, authentic type of film, much, much more.

The Hobgoods lose their sponsorship and in a long tail-end to their careers, Damo falls off Tour and CJ spends five long years struggling with no major sponsor. CJ gets his happy ending retirement lap after an injury wildcard while Damo struggles on with a sense of unrealised ambition, which challenges his own family stability.

A thousand tragic endings could be had from material like this.

But the ship rights itself and somehow the brothers find peace, at opposite sides of the country.

If you were religious, it’s an argument for the unexpected arrival of grace.

How much of the Hobgoods is a good thing?

I think, more than we have gotten.

I finished the film wanting more southern fried chicken surfing hillbilly in my life.

The denouement of the film takes pace with the brothers surfing Grajagan, playing out, with good grace now, the intense sibling rivalries that had determined their destinies.

I realised what beautiful surfers they were and that I wanted to see more of them.

The Tour doesn’t always bring out the best. Especially on the back end of a career.

I hope ELO has watched, there are many lessons within.

(Watch And Two If By Sea on iTunes, Amazon Prime etc.)