Thoughts after a Miller's Run

Thursday, 09 February 2023 07:39 | Written by 
Rate this item
(2 votes)
Thoughts after a Miller's Run

A look back - aaaaargh! A mountain. Let it go through... A smaller one, with a glimpse of something massive lurking further out to sea. Catch it, catch it! Sprint, sprint, you’re on it, here’s the break zone, keep going, keep going, the roar from behind and the sudden acceleration as a massive foamy caught up to me, keep it straight, keep it straight... Phew. Arrived. Panting. Stop the watch. ok. Made it. Empty the boat, pick it up to prevent it knocking you down. Done.

A "Proper" Miller's Run

The forecast said the wind was going to be just over 20kt.

When I arrived at the club, the meter was reading 29-30kt with gusts over 40, and streamers of sand were flying across the road - a confirmation if any was needed of very strong wind.

We helped each other carry our skis to the trailer; it wasn’t a day for trying to carry a ski on your own.

Just before we left, Kenny Rice (current world champion) arrived back from his Miller’s. He had a wry smile on his face - and said that it was hectic at Miller’s Point with the wind reflecting off the mountain and gusting straight out into the bay. “The first run I got was towards Gordon’s Bay,” he laughed.



As we drove along the road towards Simon’s Town the bus was unusually quiet as we contemplated the maelstrom on the bay. At Glen Cairn, the sand was hurtling over the road, sandblasting the cars...

In Simon’s Bay, normally fairly protected, especially in a SSE wind, there were squalls lifting spray off the surface. Oh boy.

And as we left Simon’s Town, heading towards Miller’s Point, we could see a haze over the water - normally the spray is blasted off in distinct sheets, here it was just a continuous layer of spray as far as the eye could see.

My personal redline on launching at the south ramp at Miller’s Point is: is there a combination of sheeting spray and swell? A couple of elite paddlers (Mark Keeling and Dyllan Farrell) were launching so we all perforce went down to the ramp to look at the water. The sea outside Rumbly Bay was a boiling, churning mess... (Even so, I might have attempted it, had the wind not been blowing almost directly offshore.)

The rest of us drove to the north (chicken run) ramp, in the shelter of Miller’s Point itself.

Even if we’d wanted to, it would have been almost impossible to paddle back up to the rock that marks the "official" start of the Miller's Run - and we just paddled on a little way out before turning downwind.

The paddle itself was interesting; as expected, the first couple of km were quite unpleasant, the wind blowing us towards Muizenberg instead of Fish Hoek. The small, but rapidly growing wind chop pushed us diagonally across the even more rapidly growing swell which was breaking across from right to left.

After a km or so, the wind straightened out and we headed directly to Fish Hoek.


The bigger swells were running slightly from the east and I found myself having to work right to stay on course.

PHOTO 2021 03 16 19 03 46


The really big waves were coming through in sets, and were moving fast. If I wasn’t already on a smaller wave, I battled to catch the bigger ones. The sea seemed to have an irregular twitch in it and I struggled to find a rhythm. Normally in big conditions I catch everything I can and, by not pushing down the faces of the waves, and by leaning back, keep the nose of the boat up. But these waves were jacking up more steeply than usual, and more often than not, I found myself unable to stop the nose plugging into the wave in front.

Each time we’d decelerate violently, spray everywhere. As I was going through the motions on one big wave, another arrived, combining with the first to produce a steep and violent peak of water that caused the boat to corkscrew violently. I found myself sliding sideways down the face of the wave, bracing wildly and pummelled from the right by the foamy. I popped out the top of the wave still upright, but facing towards Strand... Hmmm...!

Fish Hoek Surf

Coming into Fish Hoek Bay, a couple of watery mountains rolled in underneath me, both of which I failed to catch, but which left me feeling even more thoughtful about the last 100m or so of the paddle...

Looking at Strava, I can see that my heart rate peaked at 172bpm over that final hectic stretch.  Compared with, say, Durban, the surf at Fish Hoek is seldom intimidating - but when it does jack up, we're not used to it and it becomes a bit of a lottery.  I pride myself that I'll get through it 90% of the time...

Respect to everyone who paddled through that, especially Mark and Dyllan who both achieved PBs.



Latest Forum Topics