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Muizenberg celebrates 100 years of surfing
It’s also where Agatha Christie liked to catch a wave
Muizies. The Berg. Muizenberg. Call it what you will, this hippie little corner of Cape Town has attracted locals and foreigners to its expanse of beautiful beach and impressive backline for more than 100 years. It’s also where Agatha Christie liked to catch a wave (true story). Here are a few reasons to love SA’s surf capital even more.
IT’S WHERE THE FIRST WOMAN ON A SURFBOARD WAS PHOTOGRAPHED
Back in the 1920s, UCT student Heather Price made friends with a couple of surf-loving US Marines, whose ship had docked in Cape Town on its way back to America post World War 1. She took a fancy to their old-school, wooden, Hawaiian-style surfboards (and possibly to them) and decided to pose alongside one of them. The shot – the first ever recorded of a woman with a surfboard – became a bit of a surf cult symbol and with some luck, can still be found in surf shops and on postcards today. In fact, it’s reported that Heather was the first person recorded to have ridden a surfboard at The Berg. Muizenberg was also a favourite surf spot among some rather notable women, including renowned author Agatha Christie, who liked to put Fred (her board) through its paces there.
IT’S BEEN SCHOOLING SURFERS FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS
At the end of World War One, pilot Tony Bowman decided to make Muizenberg his home. Riveted by a description of surfing at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii by author Jack London in his novel, Cruise of the Snark, Bowman became slightly obsessed with riding waves himself. He created his own kind of surf “boats” and contacted the Honolulu Tourist Association for surfing photographs so that he could improve on the dimensions of the boards he was building.
Tony, along with his mates Lex Miller and Bobby van der Riet (a.k.a. “the Three Arcadians”) built boards in a workshop behind the Arcadia Tea Room in Muizenberg, and eventually honed their skills to the point that their boards made it to the waves, and stand-up surfing became established at Muizenberg.
Since then, Surfer’s Corner at Muizenberg has become home to the local surfing community and is known for its consistently good – and mostly gentle – waves, making it the ideal place to learn to surf. Numerous surf schools operate out of Muizenberg, many of which are also involved in community outreach initiatives and passing on “the stoke” to local kids.
IT’S HOME TO SA’S OLDEST SURF SHOP
Actually, Africa’s oldest surf shop… complete with original owner, Peter Wright. Affectionately known as the godfather of surf retail, this beloved, white-haired local opened The Corner Surf Shop at 1 Clarendon Lane, Muizenberg, on 1 July 1971.
Peter started out building surfboards and his label, Wright’s Surfboards, soon became the choice of board among the surfing elite of the time. Several years later, around the mid-Seventies, Peter began importing skate- and surf-wear and by 1978, The Corner Surf Shop had more than doubled in size.
In 1979, The Corner Surf Shop established South Africa’s first surf-report line (021-788-1350), which – just like the shop – is still in operation today and held in high esteem by local and far-flung surfing enthusiasts alike.
“I guess it was just a real cross-section of life,” answers Peter when asked about life in Muizenberg in the Sixties and Seventies. It seems then, that the essence of Muizenberg has changed very little since Peter’s heyday – which is exactly what makes it such a Cape Town gem.
Show your support for mental illness by going to the 25th Annual Kite Festival.
Explore artistic endeavours behind every door at the Muizenberg Open Studio Tour.
Celebrate our 100-year-old surf culture and help break the World Record of 511 people in a paddle out.
Read more, If you want to know about safe surfing and shark attack danger around Cape Town.
Also we have listed the best surf spots in the area for you.