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The Hoek, a hidden place where the time goes fast

by Steve Pike,

Nestled beneath the towering mountain of Chapmans Peak lies a hollow right hander they call the “Hoek”.

In Afrikaans, hoek means hook, but also a place tucked away in a hok or hokkie, one likes to think anyway. The naming convention of surf spots are often lost in the mists of time, and a 1000 cases of broken telegraph.

A fickle breaks that does not like too much swell, and needs the right setup of sand, the Hoek can deliver the most sublime barrels when she turns on.

Years ago, excited surfers would congregate at a view point on Chapmans Peak Drive, when there was a small space for a few cars to park before they paved it all up. This effectively denied surfers that glorious top view of the aqua green clear water, and snapshot of their black-clad brethren disappearing into the curling crystal curtain of many a wave.

The swells march in from the deep ocean and pass over a rock about 150 metres out to sea off the break. When you see movement there, you know a set is coming in a few minutes. You also know that the rocks are a way to focus the swell onto the spot, with refraction bending a part of the wave towards the other part of the swell, creating a hook shape, perhaps another reason for the name Hoek.

And the waves come, like clockwork. Good surfers will backdoor the peak and get barrelled right from takeoff all the way onto knee deep sand. It’s the archetypal Cape Town A-frame peak that barrels over shallow sand, brushed into crisp perfection by the SE, a predominantly sumer wind.

The wind pumps at times, making the water so cold your eyes water, but because it is sucked away at the foot of a mountain range and protected by large granite boulders, it is shielded from the worst of the wind.

On bigger days, it’s quite a scary proposition. You have to constantly dodge feathering closeouts that are not ridable. Wave selection here is key, and experience of how and where its going to break is indispensable to the successful outcome of a surf session. You also have to avoid the occasional rip that shunts towards jagged cliffs a little around the corner, and sometimes surfing here can be fitness training.

At best, The Hoek is a world class tube - short, round but absolutely epic like poetry in motion. The lip sucks from the top to the bottom of the wave, making for a gaping hole where the thick wetsuit clad surfer stands. At worst, it’s a shifty, messy peak that is almost impossible to catch.

Between Kalk Bay, Dunes and the Hoek, you have Cape Town’s main barrel riding nurseries.

Photographs by: Alan Van Gysen

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