Since it was unveiled in 2008, Skelton Bay has become part of our everyday lexicon, a synonym for never-ending sand bottomed tubes. But unlike Pipeline, G-Land, or [insert your preferred iconic world class wave here], the two-kilometer-long left on the edge of the Namib Desert is in a constant state of flux. If satellite imagery is anything to go by, the wave we know today didn’t even exist 30 years ago.
The Story of Skeleton Bay
Mirage is a 15-minute doccie that traces the genesis of the Namibian sandspit and how it became one of the most sought after waves on the planet, as told by pioneering locals and some of the best tube riders in the world.
But before you put it on the top of your post-pandemic bucket list, perhaps take heed of Koa Smith’s veiled advice from the film: “People think oh, easy, Skeleton Bay aka Donkey Bay. I’m going to go get the barrel of my life. But then they show up here and realize it’s more like Teahupoo on sand.”
What a week in extreme sports this week! We had X games delivering world firsts, Donkey Bay was firing and the free ride MTB boys dropped the Loosefest XL edit. All the action from the week in the video below and I have put every featured video in the playlist below it (You can just press play, wide screen and enjoy all the videos back to back.)
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Here is the playlist of the featured Videos
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Beyrick de Vries comes across as a funny guy. Believe me, he is very, very funny. Just follow him on Instagram to find out for yourself. But, underneath the humour and laughs lies a very serious competitor and a perfectionist. Hence, it took a bit longer to get his signature film out than planned, because it had to be perfect.
A serious cast of surfing talent
I was fortunate enough to be in the water at a few locations where the film was shot. Beyrick was a standout at every session.
Joining him in the varied African lineups was a tight crew of his friends, who all happen to be some serious rippers themselves. Brendon Gibbens is probably the most famous free surfer to ever come out of South Africa. Shane Sykes is one of the most talented of the younger generation, hailing from Salt Rock in Ballito. Then you have perennial charger, Dale Staples, in the mix.
All in all, a stacked lineup of South African surf talent.
Location, location, location – Beyrick de Vries chose well!
You cant have a good surf film without some dam good surf locations. Beyrick de Vries knows this, so for “Higher Light” he took the crew to some of Africa’s top wave destinations. The crystal clear waters of Mozambique, deadly tubes of Namibia and the fun, exotic destination of Senegal give the film a real African flavour. Then you add some thundering tubes on the East coast of South Africa and the frigid waters of the Cape and you have all the ingredients for an A grade film.
Watch the film, you will enjoy it!
The crew under the direction of, Steve Michelson and Monster Energy have put out an incredible film. So sit back and enjoy one of the best South African surf productions to date!
One thing I can tell you from hanging with bodyboard crew, is that it is not about the quality of the wave, or making it as such, but about how bloody heavy it was. These guys smaak a deep, mutant pit, whether they make it or not. Michael is one of the top young film guys coming through the ranks and he spent a year following our top guys around the west coast of South Africa. Great footage, rad music and some mal pits!
“This year has been a blur of long car drives and pumping waves. We started filming at the beginning of 2016 and scored every corner of the cape as well as up in Namibia (unfortunately didn’t get too much footage up there cause I was too busy surfing haha).
With the African Fire series I’ve tried to capture the passion Allan Horton has for riding and chasing waves. He’s definitely missioned in the cape harder than any guy I know. He’s constantly checking the charts, amped to be on any swell that pops up. African Fire was the name chosen to describe the series because of the fire inside him, and so many other underground bodyboarders in the Cape, that ignites when it comes to bodyboarding. Not even work or the financial burden of it all stopped him from chasing a swell and him driving myself, Nik Martin and Tsevi Rosenthal for 24 hours up to Namibia in his Bantam bakkie. Haha that was definitely the gnarliest trip we did.
Allan and I chased swells so hard this year and definitely got our fair share of amazing sessions (as well as our fair share of skunkings) but in the end it’s all worth it and 2016 has been such a good year! Keep a look out maybe there’ll be an episode 3 in 2017.”
Why would I put a picture of a man running up a beach for a post on the best left tube in the world? If you have ever been to Skeleton Bay for a solid swell, you will know that what I write here is the absolute, honest truth – Andre Botha is the man at the Namibian freight train. He will literally ride a 100 waves all day long, he does not stop, he goes deeper than anyone and he runs back up the 3km point after every wave. He is almost not human! Watching him both inspires, blows your mind and makes you feel somewhat like a pussy. That is why I chose the image I did for this post, because while every other person is dragging their board back, fighting the worst wetty chafe of their lives and takin a breather, Andre Botha is going full tilt!
You will think 7 minutes a wee long for an online edit, but as I did, you will feel like this video is over in the blink of an eye. So enjoy!
Got sent this great mash up of surfing around SA and Namibia from my guy, Josh Rowe. Great little edit celebrating surfing. Pretty funny because I am in it driving a van in the desert and you can hear me say, “Frothing” in the Donkey section. Check it out!
A collection reminding us why we surf. Namibia, Robben island, Dunes, Sunset, Dungeons. Benji Brand, Matt Bromley, Emi Erickson, James Lowe, Natxo Gonzalez, Andrew Marr, Jurie Muller, Jason hayes, Mike Schlebach, Jeremy Johnson just to name some of the crew.
The world’s best wave? It sure blew my mind. I was lucky enough to finally make it to Donkey Bay for a proper swell and got to witness a great crew charge 3km long tubes down the sand bottom point. The wave weaves and warps much like it warps your mind. I hope the video can do it some justice, but to be honest unless you witness it yourself it is pretty difficult to understand just what you are dealing with. It is also super heavy and your average surfer is going to struggle to make the drop and the sections. Did I mention it is 3km long and there is now no lifting at the point, so that means a very long walk between waves and it is possible to have a “freshy”, or not catch a wave and be washed down the point. Granville West cracked a rib early in the day and soldiered on, getting at least one epic wave for his trouble. The standouts were Aritz Aranburu, the Brand brothers, Ari Kraak, Etienne Potgieter, Matt Bromley and it was great to see young surfer, Ntando Msibi giving it a go (See my next video.) All in all the Donkey should be voted a World Wonder! Keep your eyes pealed for the Day 2 video.
Yes we all know that that left in Namibia spits out incredible tubes at the drop of a hat. This tube is special though, just look at it, not a drop of water out of place. No speed checks, no misty chandeliers and no kooks floating through the lineup. Then when you time the real speed version in the 2nd half of the video, it comes out a ridiculous 27 seconds – almost half a minute of tube time. So go vote for the guy! Check it out, but be warned you may give up surfing haha.
By now we all know about the absolutely perfect, terrifying and mind blowing tubes on offer at a certain sandbar in Namibia. This video though will simply blow your mind and possibly induce you to make a voodoo doll of Koa Smith, as your jealousy levels may spike rather dramatically from watching the length and utter perfection of his tube rides. Sit down, take some deep breaths and just enjoy the view…
A LastNameFirst.tv short film feat. Koa Smith + Alex Smith, Travis Smith and Dylan Goodale.
In this arid African Desert, 1/5 of all the diamonds in the world exist. They were so common at one point that the locals could walk across the dunes on a full moon and spot them shimmering from a far. We went to this rumored place and found a diamond of our own.
Everyone by now is aware of the crazy session over a few days that happened at Donkey Bay, in Namibia. Most have see the odd Gopro photo or sequence, one or two photos, but no real video. Well roll up your sleeves and get involved as Matt Bromley, the Payne brothers and Dale Staples charge it over the swell, with Dane Staples there to get all the action.