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ThE AFRICAN KIRRA, MOZAMBIQUE
If you place your finger on the map of Africa and draw a line from Skeleton Bay in Namibia straight across the continent to the east coast of Mozambique, you’ll find yourself at another sand-bottomed anomaly that barrels forever. Unlike Namibia though, the water is bath warm and the barrels are blue, earning it the moniker of the African Kirra.
The name is equal parts truth and irony. Easily comparable in quality to its Gold Coast namesake, the wave breaks minus the ever-present crowd Kirra has become synonymous with. In fact if you do luck into a swell here, chances are you will be surfing alone.
“When we first came here there was just a little shack on the beach selling beer,” says Ryan Ribbink, who leads surfaris into Mozambique and is as dialed in as you can possibly get to the coastline’s infamous vagaries. “I’d heard there was a wave there, but it was hard to imagine. The way the bay faces is completely opposite to the normal south swell direction.”
The same bay is now populated with dive schools and lodges, thanks to the placid waters that make it the perfect launch site for offshore scuba diving. In case you’re not reading between the lines, that means it’s fickle. Like, really fickle, only lighting up on cyclone swells that erratically bounce around the Mozambique Channel between January and April.
When it’s on, you’re just going as fast you can to make the barrel,” says Ribbink. “It breaks so hard that one session it blew out all the seams on my boardshorts from the compression in the pit.”
Even tube maestros like CJ Hobgood find it a challenge. “I’ve never had my back foot so far on the tail and still nose dived,” says CJ. “The wave sucks up hard”.
Like most of Mozambique’s sandy pointbreaks, the African Kirra requires a low tide and completely disappears when it fills in. Surf it too low, however, and the wave gets unmanageable with too much lip pouring into too little water. Oh, and did we mention the sharks?
Which all begs the question, is it worth it? Absolutely, according to Jordy Smith, who has claimed the best wave of his life here on more than one occasion.
“What trips me out the most is you have the best sand-bottomed right and left in the world on opposite sides of Africa, straight across the continent from each other,” says Hobgood. “I’m just glad I got to tick both off my bucket list.”