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Wasted Talent - A Time to be so small - Featuring Brendon Gibbens and Georoid Mcdaid. Namibia
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Wasted Talent | A Time To Be So Small - Namibia with Brendon Gibbens and Gearoid Mcdaid.

Nov 072022

Brendon Gibbens and Gearoid Mcdaid venture into the unknown with the fine folks from Wasted Talent Magazine, bringing back this souvenir of a time well spent hunting drainers on the desolate coastline of Namibia. Check out the edit and story below.

We arrive to Windhoek. Home of beer and, well, not much else. It’s a recurring theme in Namibia, there isn’t ‘much’. Welcome to Namibia, from the word Namib, or Nama meaning ‘vast place of nothingness’, enter the world’s least densely populated country after Mongolia. We pick up our trusty Toyota Hilux, the rental guys informed us to be careful of sandstorms, a real and apparent danger. Last week, the east wind brought 50-degree heat and a week of sandstorms. 

“Drive past the Salt Mine, keep driving until you reach the sand. Drop your tyres to 1.2 PSI or if you don’t have a gauge, 40 seconds of air from each tyre. Keep driving on the tracks to the left as the sand is harder. Don’t drive near the lagoon, it’s quicksand and you’ll lose the truck. Keep driving 5kms then veer right after the ridge of sand. When the tide comes in and you must cross the water keep in second and third gear and full gas. Whatever you do, don’t stop.”


We drive and drive and drive. We see seals. More seals. Seal carcasses. Whale bones and Jackals stalk our every move. We get stuck. We dig. Sand tracks. The Vans Duct Tape Joel Tudor ceremonial skateboard is our shovel. There are five of us, each man has a wheel and the driver, drives. We drive again. We get stuck again. We haven’t quite worked out sand driving at this point (speed is everything, wheelspin ain’t) We can hear waves, the familiar smell of salt. And shapes moving in the background, as if on cue the fog begins to lift. 

 

The wave reveals itself. 
 

Seeing Skeleton bay for the first time is hard to explain. The playing field is too big to comprehend. It spins it’s way down the point, gurling. Some sections fun, others square. It grows. It shrinks. It never sections. It seems rippable. It isn’t. We’re told that the bank isn’t the best; it’s a little out to sea but still. These are the most perfect waves we have ever witnessed. It looks 3ft, it is 6ft. A 4ft wave can grow to a 6ft’er down the line. A solitary post, hammered into the sand, marks the peak, but you paddle out 1km up from the marker to allow for current.


The end section is death, a pounding shore break of dead seals and alive ones looking on in indifference. That’s if you are lucky enough to end up there and not in the rip that sucks you out to sea, a watery grave awaits. 

 

Trucks with other surfers occasionally appear in the fog like ships in the mist, the haze of the sun above the fog shimmering like a mirage. The fog lifts, we scramble. We surf our brains out. Gearoid has a couple of absolute drainers, from the top of the point all the way down. He later says one of them was the best wave of his life. I watch Brendon from the shoulder park himself in a 300m double up, barreling the entire way to the horns and hoots from a collective of parked up trucks.

 

Now, surfing Skeleton bay is a physical affair. The current moves unbelievably fast, powering down the point. Surfers and bodyboarders of notable ability, do run arounds without catching a wave, oh, and the run arounds are 2-3kms, each time. Gearoid reckons one day he did 10 run-arounds. The mid-size ones go underneath you. The large sets run wide and the double ups are terrifying. It’s cold enough for a 4/3 and boots, but when the sun hits, and you are jogging k’s up the point – it’s torture. Exhausted, we make windbreaks and sleep by the car in the afternoon sun – waiting for the wind to drop. Sand is our life, in every orifice, it defines us. Sandwiches are made on the tailgate of the Hilux, the filmers spend all day on the roof, through the fog and then the sun and then the wind. We leave. 

We extend our tickets, The wave has us now. Our frontier town with two hotels and two restaurants (one worth eating in) has us now. The initial swell dies, so we opt to extend for the next one arriving in two days. Two lay days in the desert nearly sends us insane. Power cuts. No hot water. Just sand. We remind ourselves that the first crew to come and surf here, he of Wasted Talent reverence Mr Evan Slater, spent three weeks here. Three weeks!

 

We surf the last day. The swell has jumped, and spring tides have prevailed. A collection of 4X4’s leave at the same time, we inadvertently end up in convoy. Now, driving through the desert is quite something. With no road marks, and not well anything, it’s hard to gauge distance and direction. Especially when where once was desert is now a lake of saltwater, where the beach was is a river, is waist high and flowing fast, the far end is the quicksand lagoon and in the middle is just, well – sea. We’re told the only way is through. Nervously driving in convoy. We make it, just, water spilling in through the door sills and up into the intakes. We pack our bags and start the long drive across the Kalahari Desert.

 

Our trusty Hilux that dies on the way to the airport. 400ks from Windhoek. But that’s a story for another time…
 

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