Luke Slijpen won a bronze medal at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship at Huntington Beach in California this week. The South African team came eighth. Photo: ISA Evans
A surfboard recently travelled 1650 kilometres to a remote part of the Namibian coastline.

You may think it belonged to a surfer flying to Namibia on a surf trip to maybe Skeleton Bay or the notorious Guns near Swakopmund with his surfboard. But you would be wrong.

This surfboard was a 10 foot big wave board lost three months ago at Sunset Reef near Kommetjie, during a rescue in which the victim and the rescuer had to ditch their boards.

The story is made for headline writing. These kinds of stories occasionally crop up. Who can remember the classic in The Scottish Sun in 2000? Sports sub-editors were apparently waiting years for top side Celtic to lose to lowly Inverness Caledonian Thistle. And Caledonian Thistle won emphatically, with the score 3-1.

The headline was Super Calley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious.

For this riveting yarn, perhaps Odd Odyssey will be the headline, not that I am dropping a hint to the sub-editor. The word Odyssey obviously originates from Homer’s epic mythological poem The Odyssey, which recounts the 10 year mostly oceanic journey by Greek hero Odysseus to return home from war in Troy.

Okay so what? Well, one of the guys who lost his board that day at Sunset was a young Swede from Kommetjie called Odd Grimm Persson. He fell hard on a wave and had to be rescued with a suspected snapped spine. I wrote about it several columns back. Fortunately he is okay, but the two surfboards belonging to him and one of his rescuers, Dougal Paterson, embarked on their own epic journeys.

About a month later, Paterson got a phone call from two hikers. They had found his board in the West Coast National Park near Hondeklip Bay 450km up the west coast (as the crow flies). Luckily, he had written his name and number on the board. The two who found it walked with it for miles, taking turns in carrying the heavy ‘rhino chaser’ until they had phone reception.

This, however, is nothing compared to the odyssey of Odd’s board. Another six weeks passed, and Odd received an email and a photograph: “Do you know anything about this surfboard?” The guy who sent the email had tracked down one of Odd’s Swedish sponsors after he Googled the information from a sticker on the board.

Where was the board? It was lying on an remote stretch of coast 140km south of Walvis Bay in the Namib-Naukluft Park, which encompasses bits of the Namib Desert. With an overall area of 49768 km², it’s the largest game park in Africa, and fourth largest in the world.

Quite astonishing! And apparently the find was by chance. The Namibian who has the board is a 4x4 tour operator. He got it from some of clients, who had naughtily ventured into an area they were not supposed because they didn’t have permits, and they spotted the board lying on a beach.

Talk about a needle in a haystack. Odd’s board had been lost for 11 weeks and drifted 1650km (as the crow flies). The wax was still on the board after its epic journey because it floated with the top deck submerged in the water and the bottom facing up.

The board is still in Namibia. Odd plans a little surf trip there to fetch it.

An odd odyssey indeed.

Paterson’s board is a part of an exhibition and Big Wave Night comprising more than 55 big wave “rhino chasers” next Thursday at Jack Black’s Taproom in Diep River. Big Wave Night is part of this year’s Wavescape Festival in Cape Town. Info at www.wavescapefestival.com

Weather Tip

A stiff southeaster blasts us today, with gusts to near-galeforce. The temperature of the water plummets on the Atlantic side, and a weak 2-4’ swell is hammered by the offshore winds. Muizenberg is of course awash with white-capped messy onshore winds and a building 4-6’ windswell that may open some contour wind options at certain breaks. Tomorrow, the wind has abated significantly, and we have one of those hot, flat, icy cold ocean days with deep blue skies. Muizenberg remains messy with lots of 2-5’ windswell.

Weekend Argus

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