Boardmasters is done for another year, everyone’s exhausted, needing a detox and in need of a decent night’s sleep but as always a blast was had by all. Here’s a selection of images from across the week and the official WSL releases on the comps.
Congrats to Emily Currie finishing third in the WSL Euro Longboarding season and Jack Unsworth fourth in the mens. BM wise Jobe made the semis, Gearoid the quarters in the shortboard and Bleakers, Skindog, Emily and Jack Unsworth all made the quarters in the logs.
All the highlights from the final day of surfing at Fistral beach! We crowned Jeep Longboard champions Antoine Delpero and Justine Dupont! Head here for full results http://www.boardmasters.co.uk/results
Ella Williams (NZL), 22, and Lliam Mortensen (AUS), 20, have claimed the Boardmasters Quiksilver & Roxy Open titles today in wind-affected three-to-four foot surf at Fistral. Competition resumed early this morning and culminated with the QS finals this afternoon in front of a packed beach.
Mikaela Greene (AUS), 23, upset the defending event champion and her compatriot Claire Bevilacqua in their semifinal matchup as she belted her ticket for the final. Former World Junior Champion Ella Williams took out the second semi against Josefina Ane (ARG) to join Greene.
In a wave-starved final, both surfers built their scoreboard on mediocre waves at first, before finding better opportunities through the second half of the matchup. Eventually it was Williams who found the best scoring rides in a really difficult lineup at low tide and walked away with the win.
Williams claimed her first event win of the season and a much deserved break from a string of average results. The Kiwi surfer has been consistently placing in the Top 30 on the Qualifying Series and will need to build momentum from her Newquay win and transpose her good form on the bigger events coming right up.
“It’s such a great feeling to win an event again, I’m so excited!” Williams said. “This has been my toughest season ever so far so it’s nice to finally get back in rhythm. Winning an event makes the place all the more special and I’m excited to go back to Lacanau just like I’ll be excited to come back here next year. My mom and dad take turns travelling with me and I really like having their support, it’s really tough doing it on your own.”
Mikaela Greene placed runner-up for the second time in 2017 and adds yet another great result to her season tally. Unfortunately the young Aussie’s best finishes have only been in smaller-scale events so far and she’ll need to step her game up in the QS6,000 where the big points are.
“Ella is a really tough competitor and if it was going to be anybody to lose to I’m glad I lost to her today,” Greene admitted. “Every heat is a learning curve and I definitely took away a lot from that heat. I’m pretty happy with my performance and I definitely hope I can get that first place before the end of the season. It gives you a lot of confidence when you have a good result behind you and I hope I can follow through in the next few events. This place has that real English vibe and it’s been a great experience for my first time in Newquay.”
One of the form surfers all-event, Lliam Mortensen eliminated the last British surfer in the opening semifinal, Jobe Harriss (GBR). He was joined in the final by Kairi Noro (JPN), 18, who came out on top of a tense matchup with Luis Diaz (CNY).
In the men’s final, Mortensen and Noro got off to a quicker start, with the first exchange going the Australian’s way for an early lead. Mortensen quickly put a second good score on the board to apply pressure on his opponent, eventually claiming his second back-to-back event win after the Murasaki Shonan Open in Japan last month.
Sitting right outside the Top 100 coming into Boardmasters, Mortensen is on his way to the coveted QS10,000 events and will have a chance to shine amongst some of the World’s best surfers if he can keep his momentum throughout the European leg.
“I had a super bad season last year and I couldn’t imagine turning it around with two event wins halfway through this one,” Mortensen stated. “I’ve been to England a couple of times but never here and I loved it. It’s summer time and everyone’s here, and to surf in front of a crowd is really cool. I’m definitely going to have a little celebration at the music festival now!”
Kairi Noro (JPN), 18, was the surprise finalist at Fistral, topping a stacked field to place runner-up for the first time in a Qualifying Series event. The 18-year-old from Japan will take a massive leap on the rankings where he stood in 256th position before this event.
“I’m very happy with my result today,” Noro said. “I’ve had a great time here, we had decent waves and the people were super nice, I loved the food too it was an awesome experience! It’s only my second year on the QS and this is my best result ever so I’m excited and I look forward to my next events in France and Spain.”
BOARDMASTERS, QUIKSILVER OPEN FINAL RESULTS: 1 – Lliam Mortensen (AUS) 13.07
2 – Kairi Noro (JPN) 9.60
BOARDMASTERS, ROXY OPEN FINAL RESULTS: 1 – Ella Williams (NZL) 11.90
2 – Mikaela Greene (AUS) 9.57
Antoine Delpero (FRA), 31, and Justine Dupont (FRA), 25, have claimed the Jeep Men and Women’s Longboard titles today at Boardmasters in one-to-two foot surf at North Fistral. Longboarders took it to the lineup at 9 a.m with their quarterfinals, culminating with the finals early this afternoon in front of large crowds once again.
In the women’s final both surfers kept extremely busy right from the buzzer, and Dupont got off to a slightly better start than Steinriede with two medium scores on the board.
Things got interesting at the halfway mark with both surfers dropping an excellent score to tighten the race for the Boardmasters title. Dupont quickly backed it up with another good wave to distance herself from Steinriede a little bit more.
Eventually her lead was enough and the multi-talented French rider walked away with the Boardmasters, Jeep Women’s Longboard title at Fistral. This result rocketed her up to second on the European rankings, giving her the opportunity to qualify for the World Longboard Championships next season.
“I am so stoked to be able to do the World Longboard Championships next season again,” Dupont said. “My former sponsor kept me from doing them these last few years and I really missed it. It’s a different brand of surfing that I really enjoy, you can play with your board as much as you play with the waves and it makes it really exciting, even in small waves.”
A former World Champion, Steinriede had the best single score of the final but came up just short of finding the necessary backup to overtake Dupont. This second place marks the American’s best result so far this season.
“I was happy to make the final, Alice has been surfing great and I was stoked to get that win in the semis,” Steinriede said. “Congrats to Justine, she came back to the longboard and it’s cool to see. I loved coming here, it’s beautiful when the sun comes out. I’m also a huge dance fan, so we paid a little visit to the music festival and it was great fun!”
Alice Lemoigne (REU), 20, failed to advance through her semifinal matchup with Steinriede, but her consistency was enough to clinch her fourth European Women’s Longboard title. The Reunion Island surfer won the opening event in Caparica and placed equal third in Gaia and today, to secure the coveted regional crown.
“I’m really really happy to keep the European title again this year,” Lemoigne said. “I work really hard to improve my surfing and fitness so that’s a testament that all these efforts pay. Winning the title once is one thing but to defend it is really much harder.”
Lemoigne also placed equal fifth in the opening event of the World Longboard Championship in Papua New Guinea earlier this year and has set her eyes on the final event in Taiwan to try to belt an international win.
“I surf a lot and analyze videos with my coach Vincent Guelfi,” she continued. “That plus some work on balance, stretching and basically everything that can help get better and stronger. I need to improve on heat strategy as well, I lost my priority on a bad call in that heat and I feel like this cost me the win.”
In the men’s final, Antoine Delpero dropped the hammer early on with a solid 8.83 as his opening score, going up against younger brother Edouard in the final once again. But Antoine didn’t stop there and kept building with incredibly stylish and technical surfing for a 9.10 soon after and a perfect 10 point ride — the only one of the whole event, short and longboard included — to seal the deal.
“I was lucky all the waves came to me,” Antoine said. “That was an awesome final and thankfully it went my way, but Edouard is such a great surfer it could have easily been the other way around. We keep pushing each other to get better and better and I think without him I might not be surfing competitively still, so I really appreciate all the experiences and heats we share together.”
This win at Boardmasters also came in the form of a fifth European Longboard title. Antoine gave a heartfelt speech on stage thanking all the public who came to support the longboarders on finals day, as well as the event organizers and sponsors who have a long history of promoting their discipline.
“I’m super happy to get the title again and it’s a great motivation boost for the second and last stage of the World Championships in Taiwan at the end of the year,” he added.
Edouard Delpero had a stellar run through the whole Boardmasters event, but unfortunately failed to elevate his surfing to the level needed in the final to beat his brother.
“I won the last three heats we surfed against each other, but today he was just too good,” he stated. “I’m a little bit gutted because I’ve won relatively low-consequences heats, but when the title is on the line he always gets me! Nevertheless we both cherish all these moments we share, and especially here in Newquay it’s always great to come compete and enjoy the festival.”
With Boardmasters, Jeep Men & Women Longboard completed today, the European LQS rankings are final with Top 5 as follows:
1 – Antoine Delpero (FRA) *** European Longboard Champion***
2 – Emilien Fleury (FRA)
3 – Edouard Delpero (FRA)
4 – Jack Unsworth (GBR)
5 – Alberto Fernandez (ESP)
Boardmasters are supported by Corona, Monster Energy, Cornish Orchards, VISA, Samsung, Quiksilver, Roxy, Carve Surfing Magazine, Surfgirl, Radio X and DJ Mag among others, with MagicSeaWeed.com as official forecaster.
BOARDMASTERS, JEEP MEN’S LONGBOARD FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Antoine Delpero (FRA) 19.10
2 – Edouard Delpero (FRA) 15.00
The best, or maybe the worst, thing about social media is you get all the action direct from the front line via news feeds almost as the action happens. When Indo gets this good it’s debatable whether this is a good or bad thing. Good if you are there, or on your way over, bad if you are STUCK IN A FUCKING OFFICE!
Anyway, I have rounded up see of the better moments so you can either tease or torture yourself as you see fit. Enjoy!
I won’t lie to you. I really hate getting up. I love my bed, I cherish my sleep and the daily transition from slumber to a state of awakeness pains me dearly. It’s always been the same ever since I was a baby, in the first few years of my life I apparently only woke up to eat and poop, sometimes at the same time, a few decades later nothing much has changed…
The simple fact is I love being horizontal. There is only one thing in the world that makes me wake up and jump out of bed like a CIA torturer has electrified the mattress. One pure reason: just give me a reasonable guarantee of good waves and a breath of offshore wind and I’m up before the sun has even thought about cracking its head over the horizon. Nothing else has this effect on me not even a fire alarm coupled with an overly pungent whiff of acrid smoke.
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” Aristotle, Greek philosopher bloke who knew his onions.
Of course that reasonable guarantee of good conditions is a lot easier to come by these days, with web cams, swell buoys and a plethora of surf forecasting systems at our disposal. Not to mention mini-computery iPhone devices that you can hide under your pillow.
The real super dawny days are easy to spot, generally the second day of a long range swell, after a day of big, leading edge, unruly, wobbly swell you know the more lined up, clean, perfect waves are coming on the morrow.
We had one of these days a few weeks ago. I’d been chasing the aforementioned unruly swell without much luck on the first day and after hundreds of miles and what seemed like a whole day in the car punctuated only by a few hours shooting on a lacklustre reef somewhere I collapsed in a delightfully chintzy £35 a night hotel room. The kind of hotel that doesn’t even have a star rating, just a rusty bracket where the star sign use to hang. It did have some snazzy free biscuits that sufficed for dinner, the walls were thick enough to mute the sound of the neighbours dumping and humping (not the same time I hope) and it had a sea view so it wasn’t all bad.
The forecast for the next day was perfect: three to four foot, sunny and offshore- the optimum conditions for Cornwall’s beach breaks.
“Morning glory is the best name, it always refreshes me to see it.” Henry David Thoreau, Early pioneer of environmentalism and log cabin fan.
Of course the night before a dawny is always tricky. You do your best to become a sullen hermit, blowing off invites to barbecues, avoiding drinks with friends and generally switching your phone off. All so you can get some of that magical sleep. Of course it never happens, the excitement of knowing the surf is going to be pumping taps into the elusive feeling you used to get as a kid on Christmas Eve.
The end result is you lie there staring at the ceiling tiles hour after hour as your sleep time ticks inevitably down on the cheap red LED alarm clock.
As animals we are prone to respond to our circadian rhythms: sleep when it’s dark out and hunt when it’s light. In these latitudes at this time of year it doesn’t get dark until gone 10 and starts getting light at silly o’clock. British Summer Time is a right twat for that.
Anyhoose. Exhaustion takes over sometime around three o’clock, and you get a few fitful hours sleep until the orangey-purpleness of first light worries the window. From this point on sleep is out of the question … the dawny is on. Thanks to the cheap hotel being built before anyone cared about land prices in Cornwall the sea view is a killer. Clean three-foot lines are rolling in and the dawny buggering sea mist is nowhere to be seen. It’s at this point you realise you’re exposing your naked self, full frontal, meat and two veg to anyone else daft enough to be up at this hour and go put some clothes on.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and the cool old dude in Gladiator.
As the fiery rim of the sun starts peaking over the moors I’m in the car and getting an eyeball check on the surf. The waves are for once, as predicted, the dawny has been vindicated. Corduroy lines are stacking to the horizon, there’s not a cloud in the sky and the wind is a light zephyr from the south-east. Of course more often than not a well-planned dawny comes to naught. The swell will have buggered off overnight, the wind made an unplanned switch to hell onshore and to add insult to injury it’ll be blowing in a heavy sea fog. This is normal, this is why I don’t dawny unless I feel in me bones the day is going to be epic or near as damn it.
First things first on the dawn run: a decent hit of caffeine. Getting a decent coffee at silly o’clock has always been a problem for those of us with a coffee addiction and liking for early surfs. Thankfully the arches that are golden now open at daft o’clock. So there is time for a sneaky cup of java and the ultimate in drive thru breakfast cuisine: the double pork pattie, cheese and chicken ovulation sandwich known by its trade name as a Sausage & Egg McMuffin.
From there it’s onto the beach. This is why we dawny: because there’s a) no one in the sea and b) you can park where you like, nailing those elusive free spots, sticking it to the council’s obscene parking charges and bully boy clampers. To borrow an awful cliche it’s a win-win situation.
The world’s a magical place at dawn you owe it to yourself to see the sunrise…
. DAWN FACTS
•Dawn is defined as the time that marks the beginning of twilight before sunrise. Recognisable by the presence of weak sunlight while the sun is still below the horizon.
•The duration of which varies wildly depending on latitude, lasting mere minutes on the equator to hours in the polar regions.
There are technical definitions of the different stages of dawn:
•Astronomical dawn: the moment after which the sky is no longer completely dark; formally defined as the time at which the sun is 18˚ degrees below the horizon in the morning.
•Nautical dawn: the time at which there is enough sunlight for the horizon and some objects to be distinguishable; formally, when the sun is 12˚ degrees below the horizon in the morning.
•Civil dawn: that time at which there is enough light for objects to be distinguishable, so that outdoor activities can commence, formally, when the sun is 6˚ degrees below the horizon in the morning.
Being a UK surfer is a tricky business. It’s ruddy freezing, inconsistent, and not exactly world class a lot of the time. If it was as simple as rocking up to the beach in your boardshorts like those softies in the tropics it wouldn’t be the same. The wild weather, diverse coastline and capricious nature of our waves make it fun. Character building even. The chase is always on.
Figuring out what’s going on is key. Weather charts are always being assessed. When there’s swell on tap the issue is wind. A kink in the angle this way or that makes a huge difference. The British are widely regarded as being obsessed with the weather and it’s true. Surfers even more so. Making the call for a dawny is tricky. Today was one of those ‘do I drag myself out of bed in the dark or not’ days. Some folks did and were rewarded with what can only be described as a fun session. Not epic but definitely worth fighting in to the damp wetsuit for. Hell it was even sunny from mid-morning onwards with some actual warmth in the air. Roll on spring… And it looks like we’ve got waves for days. A rare treat.
We’re rolling down the spine of an ancient volcano, tumbling down to the sea. Outside the window it’s the colour of deep earth, the colour of an island that’s been turned inside out, exposing its fertile guts and dark green belly. Giant palm fronds high five the car as we twist around the jungle track with 50 Cent and Lucky Dube riding shotgun. Lucky’s crooning right now, telling us, ‘Good things come to those, who go out and make them happen.’
Clearly Lucky never tried finding a road to the beach on the west coast of São Tomé.
‘I think it’s here,’ says John Micheletti. ‘The bay we saw on the map.’ He’s pointing out the window but all we can see is the same thick ribbon of jungle that’s hemmed us in for the past hour as we’ve unsuccessfully tried to poke the nose of the Toyota Prada towards the beach. John turns off the road into a narrow trail that cuts into the bush. Branches claw the doors as he nudges the car further down the footpath, barely wide enough for two people to walk side by side.
‘I don’t think this is a road,’ quips Beyrick de Vries from the backseat. There’s a hollow thud as the chassis connects a hump of rock, followed by a grinding sound that slows the car down, but it’s impossible to turn around. John pushes harder on the accelerator. The car breaks free and is catapulted into a clearing. Ahead of us lies the beach where impossibly tall palms dip down to the shoreline. Beyond that, an onshore breeze licks the back of a wedging beachbreak.
‘Ramps!’ shouts Beyrick, and we start taking the boards off the roof.
São Tomé is located off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, a dark speck that rises abruptly from the sea. Along with its smaller twin, Príncipe, the islands form part of the Cameroon Line, a 900-mile chain of volcanoes that stretch from the hinterlands of Nigeria into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
The entire island is in fact a volcano, formed by hot spot that has steadily bubbled up lava from the Earth’s mantle over millennia. The same type of volcanic activity forged the islands of Hawaii and has imbued São Tomé with its dark soil and wrinkled coastline. A coastline that, for the most part, remains unexplored.
The exception is along the east coast, where our eclectic crew had convened like the start of a bad joke: William Aliotti, a Frenchman raised in the Caribbean Islands, Beyrick de Vries from South Africa and John Micheletti from Nigeria. We were hardly the first surfers to visit this former Portuguese colony, however.
Back in 2001, Sam George and Randy Rarick had made their way here with legendary photographer John Callahan. George wrote that he thought they were pioneering the fun right point breaks they found, until he was joined in the water by a gaggle of São Toméan kids, riding boards fashioned from wood. It was a startling discovery.
São Tomé is isolated, lying 200 miles from the mainland, yet here was a wave-riding culture that George hypothesised had evolved independently of the Polynesians’ influence. He claimed the island holds definitive proof that surfing is an authentic African tradition. Proof like the board 12-year-old Jardel Félix holds under his arm when we meet him on the first day of our trip.
The board is four foot long with thin, pinched rails and a rolled bottom deck that ends in a sharp squaretail. The wide nose is rounded and mostly symmetrical, except for a kink on the left rail where the axe used to carve it had splintered the solid piece of wood.
‘Este é meu tambua,’ says Jardel proudly. This is my board.
It’s late afternoon and the tropical sun has unclenched its boiling fist. The air is warm but pleasant. We are still wet from surfing a zippy point break in front of the village of Santana where a group of kids on a flotilla of surf craft had joined us, riding the snapped halves of a thruster, an old bodyboard and even a block of Styrofoam. But mostly they were on tambuas, the rough-hewn boards made from the acacia tree.
We had heard about São Tomé’s homegrown surf scene and expected to find these local surfers in the water. We had not expected to find them busting airs.
Unlike the young kids on the inside, Jéjé Camblé was riding a fresh 6’0 Chili. Every time he did a big turn or hucked a frontside reverse, the small pack erupted in cheers. His face stretched into a broad grin when he paddled up to us and introduced himself in Portuguese.
Jéjé later tells us that he started surfing on a tambua after seeing an expat named Peter riding waves outside his village. ‘When I saw surfing for the first time I thought it was some kind of magic,’ he says. ‘Like walking on water.’
He soon discovered São Tomé had its own wave riders and, with their help, carved his own board. He started bellyboarding the whitewash, then catching open faces. Before long he was at backline.
‘For a long time I thought our generation were the first ones to surf using wooden boards in São Tomé’,’ says the 17-year old. ‘But then I started asking the adults. One of them told me no, we were surfing these boards long ago, when I was seven. Then I asked a man who was 50, and he said the same. He said when they were kids, they were surfing with wooden boards already. Then I asked my grandmother, she is 77, and she said back in the days when she was my age, younger people surfed with wooden boards. They rode waves just for fun.’
Aside from a trickle of tourists, São Tomé remains largely cut off from the outside world. Swathes of the island have no electricity and the economy relies on fishing and cash crops. The few scraps of modern surf equipment come by way of the occasional airline pilot who surfs and a handful of Portuguese expats. But São Tomé is the landing point for a deep-sea fibre optic cable linking Africa to Europe, and has excellent connectivity.
The following morning we spot the Santana crew hanging out on the wall of an old whitewashed church that sits on the water’s edge. They aren’t drawn there solely by their piousness. The wall offers the perfect vantage point to check the waves and pick up free Wi-Fi signal from the church. With thumbs scrolling, they sit glued to their phones, connected to their heroes around the world courtesy of the good Lord.
‘If I want to train my rail, I watch Tom Curren, or Mick Fanning,’ says Jéjé , looking up from his phone. ‘If I want to progress in surf, I watch videos of Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina. If I want to be inspired, I watch Andy Irons.’
He pronounces Irons’ name with reverence, his Portuguese accent drawing the syllables out in a long shhh.
From Santana the road hugs the coastline heading south, giving way to impenetrable bays that we circumnavigate by driving inland. We had scoured the same coastline on Google Earth before arriving, marking off potential setups, logging GPS co-ordinates. But on the ground, amongst the crush of thick foliage, we are quickly disorientated.
John takes command, matching up the maps with his phone GPS, guiding the car west along the twisting dirt roads until we find a path to the beach or can drive no further. Then we get out and hike.
‘Are you kidding me?’ says Beyrick at the end of a sortie on foot. The band of dense bush we have just trekked through gives way to a crescent shaped bay. To our left is a rocky outcrop where a blowhole shoots plumes of water into the air as swells hit the headland, then refract into a left bowl. The wind is onshore but the waves are surprisingly well formed and powerful.
‘This reminds me so much of the setups in Costa Rica,’ says William out in the lineup, in-between sky-high punts. ‘Except there’s nobody here.’
That night back in Santana we tell Joao, a Portuguese expat who occasionally guides visiting surfers around the island, that we found the wave at the blowhole. He looks at us quizzically and shrugs, ‘I don’t know this wave.’
The next day we’re loading the car when William asks, ‘Who’s got music?’ But our iPhones are useless on the Prada’s old sound system, a frontloader and tape deck combo. Instead we make our way to the market where we find bootlegged copies of 50 Cent and Lucky Dube amongst piles of fruit and fish. The duo become the soundtrack to which we navigate São Tomé’s hidden coast, finding our way to beaches and bays where we are unsure if we are the first to ride these waves on our modern tambuas. We wonder what the punchy wedges would do in the dry season offshores and contemplate the slabs we’d heard about further north. But mostly we just surf and hunt fish along the reefs. Reefs that are dark and rich like the jungle, forged from the same volcanic basalt that the island is built upon.
‘I’m the diamond in the dirt, that ain’t been found,’ Fiddy spits out the speakers as we climb higher into the interior. The sea has gone flat so we are making our way inland, cutting deep into the belly of the island, throwing faux gangsta shakas as we go.
Eventually we reach Pico Cão Grande, the highest peak on the island. The needle of rock twisting into the sky was formed when a volcanic plug exploded abruptly, hinting at the powerful forces bubbling just beneath the surface. On the way back to the coast John points out the cacao plants that grow along the sides of the road, their bulging orange pods dangling on thin stalks.
Cacao makes up 95 per cent of São Tomé’s exports, a throwback from its colonial past when it was cultivated on large plantations that remain dotted around the island. The seeds are plucked from the pod and shipped around the world where they are processed into chocolate and other delights. But here in the jungle, the plants grow wild and free.
When the swell rises again we head to Radiation Point north of Santana, where George and Rarick found the loping righthander that would come to define São Tomé’s surf potential. The tarred road disintegrates the closer we get, until we are bumping along a rutted track where wooden clapboard houses lie squashed against one another, piled up in a settlement that runs down to the sea. The bad road forces us to drive slowly, a few miles an hour. A stream of kids run out the houses as we pass by, pushing their homemade skateboards behind the car.
When we come to a stop they gather round, showing us the boards. The deck of the ‘rolling car’ or trote is a block of wood joined to trucks made from smoothed-out branches. Old wheel bearings have been fitted onto each end of the branch, which has to be carefully selected: too thin, and the branch will snap or the makeshift wheels will wiggle off. Too thick, and the wheels won’t be able to turn around on the wooden trucks.
The kids squeal with laughter as Beyrick and William give the boards a go, jerking stiffly from side to side down the road. ‘Oleo, oleo!’ shouts a tiny boy, no older than eight. He whips a small plastic bottle out his shorts and grabs one of the boards, squeezing a few drops of used motor oil onto the bearings, then flips it over and skates expertly round in circles, the steel wheels hammering the ground loudly.
Radiation Point gets its name from the towering radio beacon that dominates the peninsula and sits perched on undeveloped government land. We duck under a dilapidated fence and make the 20-minute walk through tall yellow grass the colour of wheat, catching glimpses of the wave until we get to the shoreline.
‘No, no!’ shouts one of the local surfers as we start walking over the rocks to paddle out. He points down to a fat clump of urchins wedged between the boulders, then motions for us to follow him to a gully where we slip easily into deeper water.
A handful of São Toméan surfers are at backline, riding hand-me-down surfboards, some with no fins that they still manage to rip gracefully. The wave runs for a hundred meters from the outside to the inside, a mellow pocket that accommodates noserides as much as big turns, much like an African version of Malibu.
‘How good is this?’ says John, sweeping his hand to indicate the waves, the bay, the entire island.
Back in the water in Santana, Jéjé tells us surfers from his village and Radiation Point rarely surf together. The long hour-and-a-half walk between the two spots makes it difficult. None of them has a car. But when one of them does make the trek, the local surfers are stoked to see each other.
‘There are not many surfers in São Tomé,’ he says. ‘Modern surfing is just beginning here. We see each other, we learn together.’
A set rolls in and Beyrick takes off, races down the line and launches a frontside air. Jéjé lets out a loud whoop before stroking into the next wave and attempts a huge alley-oop, almost landing it but he comes unstuck in the flats.
The kids on the inside go wild as they watch this tit-for-tat unfold, then go back to bellyboarding the reforms. But one of them starts nudging further up the point, eyes fixed on Jéjé and Beyrick. His little arms are paddling hard, legs kicking off the back of his wooden tambua, as the past and the present draw closer.