The Dune, or Dunes, is a world class break where many South African surfers have perfected their barrel-riding skills. Set in the middle of a long beach at Noordhoek near Cape Town, Dunes is named after the high sand dunes that protrude from the fynbos. In the old days, years before idiot settlers put down their roots, literally in the form of alien vegetation to contain the shifting sands, Dunes was one of the Seven
Wonders of the surfing world. With the endless and powerful southeaster blasting out to sea
during summer, the sand would whip off the tops of the dunes and get shunted out to sea, forming long spits of sand. When the deep ocean groundswells marched in from the far ocean,
these spits of sand would split the peak into a perfect A-Frame,
barrelling left and right. Of course, those spits of sand are no more, but Dunes still fires when the sand banks are right. What helps this break enormously is a outer reef that is perfectly placed about 300metres beyond the main peak. Long period SW to W swell focuses on this submerged reef, known as the mound. As the swell feels the bottom of the reef, that portion of the swell slows down, while the rest of the swell on either side continues at a deeper water speed. This has the effect of creating a wedge-shaped kink - or bunched up bump - in the swell. The swell continues its
journey with this bump. Because there is more energy and more water in this central area of ridged up wave, it pitches first over the low tide sandbars. On a solid 6-8ft day, the top guys will be pulling into ginormous standup barrels here. However, this wave is not to be taken lightly.
Everyone knows that peagreen sun-kissed feathered lip look that Dunes shows when she is at her finest, but the waves break on compacted sand that becomes like concrete. A wipeout can snap your board and your neck. Before the white sharks mysteriously vanished from Cape Town, there were numerous sightings of the men in grey suits. But needless to say, many of South Africa's top young surfers cut their teeth on this wave, including Mikey February and others.
Photographs by: Alan Van Gysen