The Sixties Surfers Corner Reunion at the Muizenberg Pavilion on 19 March 2010 initiated by Nicky Hough and Charlie Moir went off like a blast from the past.  Not even middle age could disguise these surfers from the 60s.  There must be some truth in the saying:  “You do not stop surfing cause you get old – you get old because you stop surfing”.  Some `Sixties Surfers’ are weathered by sea and sun, some are comfortably retired from the physical demands of surfing, but all of them share the bond of having surfed together in an era that saw surfing mature from riding waves to riding boards.   This was the generation of big boards of 9’6” weighing in at 30-40 pounds – and before the comfort of wetsuits and luxury of leashes.  Surfers used to kneel on their long boards to ensure good leverage and joked with each other about the size of the resulting calluses on their knees.  When you were so cold that you could not operate your fingers, or too tired after swimming back to the beach to retrieve your board, you could warm-up and rest in the lee of the bathing boxes.  The up side of those days was that R1 could buy you a coke mid-morning, a coke and burger for lunch and another coke to drink after the day’s surf.  Board designs were also simpler and often a considerable amount of time was spent in dad’s garage repairing or building boards – sometimes at the expense of an exam.  It is amazing to think that the price of a good board today is equivalent to a year’s salary then.   

 A film clip from the soon to be released documentary by Carlos Feyder ’You should have been here Yesterday’ gave a brief expose of the magic that made Surfers Corner.  Equal measures of accessibility by train, wind protection afforded by the bathing boxes and the length of the waves at Muizenberg made it ideal for surfing.  And the growing interest in surfing and the increasing numbers of surfers and the girls that accompanied them put a whole new spin on The Corner at Muizenberg.  But surfing at The Corner almost came to an untimely end when the Municipality banned surfing because of the danger to swimmers of runaway boards.  For a while, surfers had to carry their heavy boards from the station all the way to Sunrise Beach.  It did not take long for the surfers who were (and probably still are) fairly anti-establishment to oppose the ban. A group of teenage surfers got fed up and surfed at The Corner in defiance.  The police responded by rounded them all up in a show of authority. Fortunately for the surfers, a lawyer friend got the charges dropped on the basis that the by-law did not adequately describe what a surf board was!!!!

Mingling with the reunion crowd of over 500 Sixties Surfers, it was clear that this was not an ordinary reunion.  Friends had come literally from the four corners of the world to celebrate a way of life and `old’ friends in the biggest reunion of Surfers ever in South Africa.  Polite hand shakes between long separated chinas warmed into enthusiastic hugs. In some cases recognition followed exclamations of  “Hey! Man you still have your hair!”. 

The organisation was excellent Hawaiian dancers, the Beach Boys and local band Fully Chilled and Friends set the scene.  Surfers who had passed on were commemorated in a list of names, and a particularly special tribute was held for John (Oom or Moon) Whitmore who was many things in the surfing world – friend, founder, board builder par excel lance and surf reporter.  “Look at all the lives he has touched – he is living on”, sang Andre de Villiers of Fully Chilled.  It seems to me, as an outsider, that the Sixties Surfers have touched many lives – may their camaraderie and their pioneer spirit live on and on and on….     

Images of the Reunion can be seen on www.surfpix.co.za and will be sold at R35.00 excl vat per image. The proceeds of the sales will be donated to the WPLSA FOR DEVELOPMENT KIDS THAT NEED TO FUNDING TO GO TO SA CHAMPS 2010 at Seal Point.

 The long awaited DVD of the Surfer’s Corner Sixties Reunion is now available – click here for details.

For the inside stories become a member of Facebook.  Look for the homepage of the group “Surfers Corner Sixties Reunion”.  At the top of the screen will be a box with an image of 2 peoples torso’s that says “Join”. Click on that box, and Voila, you’re now a member of the group.  You can browse through the more than 90 photos, add more images yourself or ‘Tag’ people in the images so everyone can see their names.You can also scroll through the other members of the group – click on their images and invite them to become ‘Friends’ of your homepage, send them messages, etc. To find the latest information on the group, click on “INFO” and on the page that appears you will find ‘Recent News’ – which currently consists of Bosco’s  memories of the Sixties

If you are not a member of Facebook, it is easy to join provided you have an email account and access to the internet:  Open an Internet page and type www.facebook.com in the interactive line, then click ‘GO’ to bring up the Facebook homepage and follow the directions.